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Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  855 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
Pre-eminent military historian Max Hastings presents Winston Churchill as he has never been seen before.
Hardcover, 664 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2009)
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Lauren Albert
Nov 08, 2010 Lauren Albert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-british
The book lead me to the conclusion that while a war is never won by a single man, no matter how great, many a war must surely have been lost for lack of him. Winston Churchill was not a perfect man. He would not have been such a great man if he had been for isn't it more admirable to do great things despite your weaknesses? Perfection does not serve as inspiration. He did some terrible things. He did some amazing things. Through it all he was single human being facing sometimes terrible odds and ...more
Chin Joo
Jan 02, 2015 Chin Joo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I have read about Sir Winston Churchill and I'm glad to have picked one written by Sir Max Hastings, another first. Sir Hastings is British, and many would expect him to therefore have a great command of the language, but not all British can write like him. His arsenal of vocabulary and elements of the language is impeccable. He was able to summon the right words and phrase them in ways that express precisely what he was trying to convey. It was not only on the one or two ...more
Jun 10, 2012 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The description of this book contains not a shred of hyperbole. It is a masterpiece of history.

What makes Hastings's approach different is his reluctance to use Churchill's own words, despite his own status as a fairly eminent historian and chronicler of the time. Churchill was finely attuned to the call of history and the mystic chords of memory, which his words were carefully attuned to pluck for posterity.

Instead, Hastings, cognizant of Churchill's selective editing and memory, sketches the m
May 31, 2014 Xan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He empezado tres veces esta reseña y tres veces la he borrado. He leído docenas de libros sobre la IIGM, entre ellos los Diarios de Churchill, pero ninguno había conseguido levantar la capa de barniz heroico que decoraba la victoria de los Aliados. Max Hastings lo ha logrado: sin destruir la reputación de un hombre complejo ha ido descubriendo las tensiones entre sus colaboradores y sus renuentes aliados. Las zancadillas de los americanos para asegurarse una posición de poder sobre los británico ...more
Peter Ellwood
Sep 16, 2016 Peter Ellwood rated it it was amazing
An entirely marvellous piece of work. Pretty much unique amongst the various books I have jotted down comments on: if I could award six stars anywhere, then this might well be the recipient. A remarkable combination of lucid and sympathetic writing, and a subject matter that electrifies.

I’ve never especially idolised Winston Churchill. A good man at the right time and so on, but I didn’t exactly turn to this book to reinforce pre-existing adoration.

All the same, the man that emerges from these
"What, another Churchill book?" This was my wife's comment when she saw me reading this book. I've read Churchill's own account of World War 2 as well as several other biographies. So, beyond my admiration for Churchill, what possible reason was there to pick up this book?

What Hastings does is focus particularly on Churchill's leadership of England from his ascent to Prime Minister in 1940 during England's darkest days, to his ignominious departure from office in July of 1945, shortly after Alli
Mar 06, 2014 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This author has been on somewhat of tear as of late, this his third World War II book published in the last seven years, (Armageddon and Retribution the other two), and a fourth volume just out. Winston's War also adds to the recent spate of books - Carlo D'Este's Warlord; Andrew Robert's Hitler and Churchill and Masters and Commanders, and Berthon and Potts', Warlords - "analyzing" Churchill's leadership role and his success/failure as Great Britain's Commander in Chief. Hastings' new book diff ...more
Oct 07, 2015 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off... this is a tome, nearly 500 pages, but Hastings helps us along with his fluid prose. This is a “warts ’n all” biography of Churchill that confines itself to the period of his wartime premiership. It’s also the Churchill who is seen by those men and women who worked closely with him during the war, as opposed to those who only “knew” him through his morale boosting oratory. Hastings has obviously done a lot of digging into memoirs and diaries as well as official documents to achieve t ...more
Sep 08, 2011 Marks54 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a detailed bio of Churchill as war leader in WWII. It is well written and the author is very knowledgeable and a great specialist on WWII. The book looks at the really hard parts of Churchill's job - what made his accomplishment so great. It its material, it covers lots of familiar ground and provides few startling "aha" moments. But it does deliver on a number of important points. First, it details the opposition, both political and military, that Churchill had to surmount to keep Brita ...more
Karl Rove
This is a powerful, clear-eyed exposition of Churchill’s wartime leader. He details the great man’s strengths (including his indomitable will) and his weaknesses (his readiness to interfere with his generals in pursuit of wild schemes of dubious value) and finds value in both.

For example, Churchill’s schemes to aid Greece threatened the British hold on the Middle East and sent thousands of the ill equipped, poorly trained, and too often badly led British troops to their deaths or POW camps. But
John Gribbin
Mar 03, 2016 John Gribbin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the best insight I have seen into Winston Churchill as war leader, and through him into Britain's involvement in World War Two, as it declined from global superpower to America's poodle. The very factors that made Churchill the only person who could have made Britain keep up the fight after 1940 -- his anachronistic, Victorian-era jingoism and love of Empire -- made him essentially redundant by 1945, rightly viewed with suspicion by Roosevelt and only kept from disastrous strategic inter ...more
Oct 31, 2012 Bou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book describes the life and politics of Winston Churchill during the Second World War. It is a superb book and gave some new insights in the strengths and errors of Winston. It does not spare Winston; especially in the chapter about operation Accolade in the Egean see. But in the end the author comes to the conclusion that Winston- with all his faults - was the best man to lead England through the war.

It gave me some new insights about the relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill and th
Jul 05, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not a typical war history, nor a biography. If you are highly interested in an objective look at Winston Churchill, his strengths and weaknesses, you will find it fascinating. I can't imagine how the author pulled all this information together in a coherent study of this unique and complex man and the political issues behind World War II. I found it to be a very good book, but it won't please everyone. I'm sure it's not intended to.
Mar 26, 2016 Edgar rated it really liked it
Max Hastings says that ‘History must take Churchill as a whole…..rather than employ a smokeshave to strip away the blemishes crested by his lunges into excess and folly’. That has certainly been the author’s approach in this book. Here is an unsentimental, brutally honest account, not only of Churchill, but of Britain’s overall war effort. Churchill’s supreme achievement was to rally the British nation, and create the ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ during their darkest hour when under attack from the Luftwaff ...more
Oct 20, 2016 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, audio
I have read many histories of WWII but this may be the first beginning to end book by an English author. It's a different perspective. It is difficult to imagine a world without Winston Churchill. As Hastings makes clear it would be very different from the world we live in and it would probably have been very much worse for hundreds of millions of people.
Carl R.
We seem to have an inexhaustible passion for WWII in all our worlds from the scholarly to the movies. No Hollywood year is complete without at least one or two anti-Nazi blockbusters. And now Max Hastings has found himself a previously unplowed corner of the field for his Winston’s War.
Never was a book more aptly titled. What you see in the title is what you get--WWII as Winston Churchill experienced it, or at least as one watching
Churchill might imagine his experiencing it.

Churchill is, of co
May 10, 2011 MisterFweem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the following bit – the concluding paragraph of the chapter “Bargaining with an Empty Wallet” in Max Hastings’ “Winston’s War,” an in-depth look at the work, successes, and follies of Winston Churchill during the war years, and thought it has a message that modern politicians ought to examine:

But the British people had by now hardened their hearts towards their rulers, even the greatest. Many felt less gratitude to those presiding over victory in the most terrible conflict in history tha
Michael Richardson
Jun 14, 2016 Michael Richardson rated it really liked it
Well this was an interesting read.
Not fast paced but interesting all the same.
For example, who knew just how many mistakes one of the most famous men in history made, during his tenure as PM throughout World War II?
Who knew how little the Americans were prepared to assist Britain, during our darkest hour?
Who knew how bad our armed forces performed through much of the conflict, compared to their Russian and German counterparts?
Winston Churchill, as we all know, was an exceptional orator, and f
Jean Poulos
Max Hasting well known British historian attempt to take a realistic view of Winston Spencer Churchill. The author has written a subtly revisionist account of Winston Churchill during the war. Hasting has taken a different method of looking at Churchill that is by looking at him through the eyes of others at the time. Hasting used diaries, letters and stories then he ties it together with a bits and parts of Winston Churchill speeches. That Hasting is never seduced by Churchill’s effortless apot ...more
Leigh Coop
Nov 30, 2013 Leigh Coop rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is is a very well-written biography of Churchill and the British part of WWII. the history is linear chronologically so that helps me keep the history in my mind. I have not read anything in-depth about WC prior to this so it's a lot of new information--keeps your interest. Author admires the subject but I don't feel like the work is too hagiographic all so far.

November 30, 2013. Just finished this great history of WWII focusing on Winston Churchill and the British command from 1939-1945. The a
Dec 15, 2015 Jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jean by: Audible BOGO
(Audible; Robin Sachs, narrator) All, I mean, all of the information in this book was new to me. So much often bleak and dispiriting information about the incompetence of the British armed forces that I had to take a break after the first third to listen to some lighter fare. Prime Minister Winston Churchill was also England's Defense Minister, and a very bad one at that. He pushed for guerrilla warfare in Europe to sabotage German operations; this led to terrible German reprisals against whole ...more
Jim Coughenour
I was about halfway through Max Hastings' Retribution when I picked up his new book on Churchill, and I pretty much read it straight through. This is an solid, admiring but hardly uncritical history of Churchill's legendary leadership of Britain through the dark years of World War II. Up to now my basic understanding of Churchill during the war has been filtered through several fine books by John Lukacs. Hastings reviews the same events and actions in much wider scope, and doesn't draw back from ...more
Jun 02, 2011 Kristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really was one of the best WWII books I've ever read. The tone Max Hastings has a writer is never boring. He never loses focus, as can often happen in the non-fiction genre. All and all well worth the time and effort to read. He fleshes out new stories and background regarding decisions Churchill made and didn't make. He emphasis the lack of drive of the part of allies was both a hindrance and a blessing, while at the same time pointing out, in the undercurrent tone that Churchill was the only m ...more
Jul 22, 2011 Franz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history, 2011
Winston's War begins with Churchill ascending to power in 1940. Britain seemed on the brink of defeat at the hands of the German Army. It continues through to Churchill's fall from power in 1945, in the closing days of World War II, when an election swept the Labour Party into power. I found several aspects of this book fascinating, including Churchill's inability to find a truly great field commander, his insistence on supporting sideshows (Greece and Yugoslavia are two examples), and the reali ...more
Feb 17, 2015 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good stuff from Max as always. No one combines the view from the lowliest non combat observer (via original research in archives) to the high strategy and top individuals involved into a cohesive narrative quite like Max Hastings. What I think he does especially well is explain to the reader the march of events as experienced by the participants and how their decisions must be understood in the contempt of the times. As such the seemingly bizarre dumping of Churchill by the electorate in 1945 is ...more
Oct 14, 2013 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an account of Winston Churchill’s dealings during the Second World War. It was interesting hearing the British account of US and Soviet involvement in the war. Specifically, the British felt the US enriched themselves at Britain’s expense at the beginning of the war before the US joined in the fray. The account also includes the Soviet perspective on many events. FASCINATING. The Soviets were dirty and conniving. They spied on the US and on Britain with high-level, cabinet-level contact ...more
Aug 13, 2011 Stephen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I mostly did not enjoy this book. It's the 5th book about Churchill I've read and Hastings sustained a good narrative up until the point when the United States entered the war. Then I got the distinct impression that Hastings had a number of insights that he wanted to lay out and that we didn't really need to hear the whole story because so many books have been written on the subject. The problem is that I felt that he lost his man and his way in the course of sharing his theories. Before Pearl ...more
Dec 08, 2014 Gerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
Sir Max Hastings is by far the most important historian of our generation currently writing on battles and wars and politics of the time. He speaks truth, even when it may not sit well - his fact based account is supported by the documentaion to which he has analyzed and then critically written upon.

Ironically I was in the middle of Sir Churchill's memoirs of the "Second World War" when I learned this book was soon to be released. I could do nothing more than to follow then, my recent completed
May 13, 2016 Quinndara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. I learned more details of the relationship between Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill. As the review states: this book is a "vivid and incisive portrait of Winston Churchill during wartime from acclaimed historian Max Hastings. Winston’s War captures the full range of Churchill’s endlessly fascinating character. At once brilliant and infuriating, self-important and courageous, Hastings’s Churchill comes brashly to life as never before."

Interesting point to me is that the Allies might n
Hastings, who already has a slew of excellent military history books to his credit, has outdone himself with this comprehensive and readable account of Winston Churchill's record as Prime Minister in World War II. Readers who are familiar with the military accounts of the conflict may be surprised at Hastings's accounts of Churchill's relationships with Roosevelt, with Stalin, with his fellow British politicians and with his military leaders. Churchill himself was something of an enigma; capable ...more
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Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings, FRSL, FRHistS is a British journalist, editor, historian and author. His parents were Macdonald Hastings, a journalist and war correspondent, and Anne Scott-James, sometime editor of Harper's Bazaar.

Hastings was educated at Charterhouse School and University College, Oxford, which he left after a year.After leaving Oxford University, Max Hastings became a foreign c
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