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Winston Churchill (Penguin Lives)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  697 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
When today's world leaders need inspiration and strength in times of crisis, they often turn to Winston Churchill, quoting him and citing his heroic example. The son of a member of Parliament, Churchill, a poor academic student, wanted to be a soldier early in life. But after he escaped from a South African prison camp, his national fame catapulted him into a life of ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 14th 2002 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 2002)
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Mark
Mar 18, 2016 Mark rated it liked it
Winston Churchill biographies come in all shapes and sizes, from the massive to the svelte. John Keegan's contribution to the genre is definitely on the latter end of that spectrum; his book, a volume in the Penguin Lives series, covers Churchill's nine decades in less than 200 pages. To achieve this, Keegan must condense a long and active life, one that stretched from participation in Queen Victoria's "little wars" to an effort to achieve detente with the Soviet Union. This invariably requires ...more
Ed
Jul 24, 2010 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Churchill, biography and WW II enthusiasts.
One of the reasons I don't read more biographies is that they always provide me with more information than I want. I understand that the author, who has most likely spent years researching a person's life, wants to include as much of the research as possible, I'm just not sure I want to plow through so much detail.

This effort by John Keegan to deliver a short but comprehensive summary of Winston Churchill's life was a joy to read. I'm sure he used only secondary sources but he, somehow, managed
...more
Shelly Baird
Aug 23, 2008 Shelly Baird rated it really liked it
I love history and biographies but don't often read them. I appreciated this one because it was short, well-documented and showed both his military and political careers as well as his personal life.
Patrick
Dec 17, 2009 Patrick rated it liked it
Shelves: penguin-lives
Acceptable summary of Churchill's life. Much better books out there on Churchill, of course. Keegan is better as a historian than as a biographer.
Dr.
Nov 29, 2013 Dr. rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-history
Brief and to the point. Usually I don't read biographies, but this one was short enough to be enjoyable. Learned a lot about the man and happy to check another Keegan book off the list.
Farzaneh
May 04, 2012 Farzaneh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, political
وینیستون چرچیل
نویسنده برندا هاوگن
انتشارات ققنوس
Janessa James
Aug 04, 2015 Janessa James rated it really liked it
Winston Churchill is one of those historical figures that seem to get more famous and revered with time. His legacy has been told and refigured until, as a millennial, all I had heard about Churchill was his heroic deeds and unwavering patriotism. I hadn’t given thought to his life before World War II, or the mistakes that he made during the war. In John Keegan’s biography Winston Churchill: A Life, he gives the casual reader a brief, and at times skewed view of the famed Prime Minister.
At the v
...more
Andrew
Aug 30, 2010 Andrew rated it liked it
Keegan's 2002 book is one of a series of retrospective looks at Winston Churchill, who himself dominated the first 30 years after World War II with his own histories of the conflict. Now, with the perspective of time and additional research, there are some very insightful books appearing.

This book is largely an overview of others' work. It is very worthwhile if the reader is unfamiliar with Churchill but there are better books for an insight into the Battle of Britain, the fall of France and ev
...more
Brad
Aug 06, 2011 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A small book about a big man.

Without getting bogged down with minutiae, the book covers all the significant events in Churchill's life. The first several chapters include much of his political posturing before the war. (Although certainly enlightening, I confess it was easy to get lost in parts because of my unfamiliarity with Britain's political system.)

The significant sections of his storied speeches are recorded here, and because the backstory of each is provided the speeches are all the mo
...more
David Woods
This was my first foray into biographies, so it was nice starting with one under 200 pages. It actually read pretty quickly, and I enjoyed it. There was a lot of history about what was going on while he was alive, but I guess I would have liked a little more about him personally. Maybe more excerpts from things he had written, and from his speeches. I still feel like I don't know Churchill the man really well, but I learned a lot about WWII, since my last history reading was in high school!

Also
...more
Peter Brickwood
Mar 08, 2014 Peter Brickwood rated it liked it
Good -- I like Keegan's accessible history style.
It is a relatively short read (listen in my case) with a comprehensive summary of the major influences and event is in Churchill's life. I recomend it or anyone wanting to familiarize themself with Churchill's life and times.
Keegan, who if I remember correctly was one of the children evacuated from a poor London home to an educated middle class country home, provides an intersting insight into how irrelavent "Winston" was to him. His discovery
...more
David
Nov 22, 2008 David rated it liked it
This was a good short bio of the remarkable man known best for his time as British Prime Minister during World War II. The author is a military historian, and this book reflects that, giving good descriptions of both earlier military experiences and the leadership of the British forces during the war. But I also enjoyed the introduction to Churchill's youth and later years.

One annoyance with the audiobook for me was the reader's attempt to put on a Churchill accent when he quoted anything, even
...more
Shawn Thrasher
May 07, 2012 Shawn Thrasher rated it liked it
Short, engaging sketch of Winston Churchill. It's hard to do justice to such a colossus in an almost pithy little book (the 1930s alone could be covered by a book five or six times the size of this), but Keegan covers all the necessaries. He injects his own ideas of Churchill the aristocrat, writer, politician, husband, father, soldier, and takes pains to both point out Churchill's libertarianism and the fact that some bits and pieces of the modern welfare state in Great Britain were either ...more
Jill
May 21, 2013 Jill rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Concise, well-written and informative, but I found it frustrating that some of the most important history was given just a passing nod. The excavation of Dunkirk was mentioned as an aside and the Battle of Britain only a short sentence. Plus many of the well-known anecdotes concerning Churchill are absent. I suppose it is too much to ask for a 200 page biography to have all the details, but the middle of the book slogs deep into British turn-of-the-century politics and I would prefer that ...more
Yasha Zhurinsky
Sep 04, 2013 Yasha Zhurinsky rated it really liked it
I truly enjoyed this book, it is a very nice primer to Churchill's life. Most importantly to me, Keegan tries to objectively describe different sides of Churchill's personality and how they both helped and hindered him. This biography is so much better than that by Paul Johnson that I had bought first but had to put away after the first page that says "None holds more lessons, especially for the youth: how to use a difficult childhood..". Keegan's book, in contrast to Johnson's, is inspiring ...more
JeHee
Aug 02, 2016 JeHee added it
I personally respect Winston Churchill and what he did for his country. I was interested in his past so I decided to read about the life that he lived until he became Winston Churchill the prime minister of United Kingdom. He went through many lucks and bumps since he was a kid and he grew into a better person by his experiences. I have learned a lot of thing reading about his past and I would like more people to have interest in Winston Churchill and know about him.
Urey Patrick
Delightful - short, perceptive, insightful and yet comprehensive as an overview of Churchill's life and impact. Perhaps the perfect introduction to Churchill - and certainly a marvelous refresher. Want to learn about Winston Churchill but daunted by the numerous - and weighty - books about him? Read this! It will inform and hopefully encourage you to read even more about this most remarkable figure of the 20th Century.
George Ronczy
Feb 07, 2016 George Ronczy rated it really liked it
A nice slim biography, 200 small pages. It gives you a sense of the man, much of which was new. It is encouraging me to read a more in depth biography, and perhaps investigating Churchill's own writings as he received a Nobel Prize for Literature.

The book is extremely readable for Keegan's writing. Not only was he a historian of great ability, he was also a writer of real skill, spare yet complete in his tellings, here and in his other books.
Teri Zipf
Jan 26, 2013 Teri Zipf rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
It was interesting to hear that Churchill was not quite the Tory he was made out to be, and it's sad that when he died he was more popular here than in England. It's too bad there weren't more quotes from Himself in the book, but I heard that English copyright law is such that the Churchill estate must be paid about 40 cents for each word quoted, whether written or spoken in conversation! I'm sure that constrained the author quite a bit.
Au Yong Chee Tuck
Dec 12, 2012 Au Yong Chee Tuck rated it really liked it
Historians and biographers seem to have found Sir Winston Churchill as a favorite subject. The reader is spoilt for choice. He can take his pick from detailed biographies or mini biographies.
For those readers who want a concise brief biography, this work is recommended. The author has not left out the essentials of Churchill's long life. And he has also taken care not to include superfluous detail.
The result is a delightful work.
Blaine Welgraven
Jun 13, 2015 Blaine Welgraven rated it really liked it
Simple proof that vigorous writing can be concise. Keegan's charming little biography does a consistently excellent job describing the major events and character traits of Churchill, while maintaining an informative yet trim narrative. The author's ability to both synthesize key sources and systematically summarize components of Churchill's personal philosophy allow for a remarkably complete understanding, despite the work's brevity.
Darren Sapp
Apr 02, 2013 Darren Sapp rated it liked it
Most Churchill biographies run 1000 pages, deservedly so. This one, at just 192 pages, covers his life in sufficient detail to understand this twentieth century colossus. His POW escape in the Second Boer War is the only event that seems to have been skipped over in detail but everything else, in particular World War II is adequately told. Great for students.
Robin
Apr 30, 2012 Robin rated it really liked it
An excellent insight into the man in a light and entertaining way. I was surprised how quickly I read this book as I am not a biography fan and don't normally read anything like this.

I learnt a lot and was inspired to find out more about Churchill and perhaps read some of his works too.

Well worth a read. Don't know the author but he is good at this genre.
Alex Rudder
this book shows the entire, historical and personal story of the man who was the key to world peace and an end to the most life threatening war in the history of the world. this book is different from other auto biographies because this one has quotes, from the man himself and ones he was close to, and gives an in depth analyzation of his world.
Daniel Kukwa
As a short get-to-know-you bio, it's deftly handled, and opens with a wonderful introductory essay about Churchill's greatness. That said, I find it gives short-shrift to his post-war life and career, which I personally find as fascinating as his early life. Still, in something this short, I suppose you can't ask for everything...but I do nonetheless.
Drew
Mar 27, 2016 Drew rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
John Keegan's "Winston Churchill: A Life" is a gilded biography -- it shines even if it skims. Or it might not be deep but it looks good. For anyone who oversimplifies the former British Prime Minister as a cigar-chewer who gave electrifying speeches during World War II, Keegan's slim profile is an expansive intro to one of the 20th century's most iconic politicians. This book gets my vote!
Andre
Mar 31, 2016 Andre rated it really liked it
I found this book to be very helpful and inspirational. To me Winston Churchill is one of the greatest leaders of his time, and I believe that Keegan gave a great reflection on the life and speeches of Churchill. He is truly a great role model that had great success. Reading this book gave me a good insight of what it takes to be a leader.
Daniel
Oct 07, 2013 Daniel rated it liked it
A pleasant enough, but too brief biography. In the final third, Keegan's background as a war historian and obvious interest in WWII militarism overwhelms the character at the center of the narrative, Churchill, and we hear more about battles than the man himself. However, Churchill's youth is given a fine, human treatment, and the short bio concludes with a touching review of his legacy.
Ross Cohen
John Keegan's slim volume on Churchill is an excellent overview of a man whose ninety years have produced biographies exponentially larger than this. Nevertheless, there is so much right with Keegan's work, I'm tempted to favor his single diamond over mountains of coal.
Martin Vaivods
Feb 28, 2016 Martin Vaivods rated it really liked it
A concise biography of an amazing, but probably still highly underrated, historical figure. I realized that no one book can really capture the incredible personality that is Churchill and I will probably have to read at least a few more of the books about / by him.
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Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan OBE was a British military historian, lecturer and journalist. He published many works on the nature of combat between the 14th and 21st centuries concerning land, air, maritime and intelligence warfare as well as the psychology of battle.

More about John Keegan...

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