Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill
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Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  242 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Warrior and writer, genius and crank, rider in the British cavalry's last great charge and inventor of the tank-Winston Churchill led Britain to fight alone against Nazi Germany in the fatefulyear of 1940 and set the standard for leading a democracy at war.
Like no other portrait of its famous subject, "Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill" is a dazzling display of fact...more
ebook, 313 pages
Published May 11th 2004 by Random House Trade (first published May 11th 2003)
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May 23, 2010 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History" podcasts - 4/08
Shelves: read-biography
13 ways to look at Gretchen Rubin's 40 Ways to look at Winston Churchill:

1) Bathroom reading for the overeducated (apologies to Tom Hahn).
2) Lists are easy to write because they don't have to have thematic unity or cohesion.
3) Lists are easy to read and fun to quote from.
4) Lists of historical details are deceptively hard to compile accurately, but Gretchen Rubin does so, repeatedly.
5) Ways to look at Winston Churchill that were not considered in this book, but could have been: bricklayer, inven...more
Aug 21, 2011 Babs rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Babs by: ACRL
I adore reading Winston Churchill, the past is more important, compelling, and real to me than the future, and serves as a good road map for navigating the hazards of the present. But this biography I devoured. Not only is WC an heroic, tragic, figure larger than during treacherous times that begat heroism and oratory, the author's treatment of WC is unique in that it begs the reader to come to their own conclusions, based on an extensive bibliography of sources,...more
Stafford Davis
Gretchen Rubin is a former lawyer that has been a clerk for Sandra Day O’Connor, provided legal counsel to an FCC chairman, and has been a professor at Yale Law School. In all her free time she wrote a book and started a family. Eventually she chucked the lawyer thing and decided to devote herself fulltime to writing, thus producing her second book; 40 Ways To Look At Winston Churchill.

This book is unique because it’s a short 300 page romp through an amazing life, where 40 questions are asked in...more
Albert Brennamin
An absorbing account of Winston Churchill through 40 anecdotes ranging from memorable quotations, to his sex life (or relative lack thereof) and love for England. A quick read with many overlapping ideas and observations, Rubin at times repeats herself, but not with any emphasis, suggesting she recycled material from earlier chapters with no new spin. However, this repetition does not weigh down the book any more than the few fluff chapters do. For example, the one paragraph “How He Saw The Worl...more
This is the book Gretchen R. wrote in 2003. It's an interesting approach to autobiography. She says that a single biography read alone is almost always convincing because of the way it chooses and presents the facts. Janet Malcolm observed, "The lay reader, who knows only what the biographer tells him, a state of bovine equanimity." What Rubin does in this book is take forty different aspects of Churchill's life -- leader, husband, politician, father, etc. and give lots of info on eac...more
This is an interesting concept for a biography. Rather than a chronological review of Churchill's life, Rubin comes at the various perspectives and thoughts on him from 40 different points of view (sort of). This allows her to present a multifarious method of considering one of the most prominent people of the 20th century. The downside to this idea is that she drifts into repetition more than a few times. After the first few chapters, the reader has a good sketch of the major events in Churchil...more
Gretchen Rubin has presented a biography in an unusual style. Recently, I found myself wanting to read about Winston Churchill, but found the huge number of biographies, as well as their great lengths a little daunting. This book has 40 short chapters that each looks at Churchill in a different way. Some chapter titles are: Churchill the Drinker: An Alcoholic?; Churchill as Husband: A Happy Marriage; and Churchill as Father: A Good Parent? The writing is of a style that is easily and quickly rea...more
In a word: disappointing.

In many words:

I liked several of the chapters but found many others felt too manufactured to fit the point, in which case they read like a middle school essay: thesis, evidence, evidence, generalized conclusion. I know it's intentionally different from most biographies but maybe just 20 ways to look at Churchill would have been better.

I also found the italicized chapter introductions invariably made the book feel cheaper and were unnecessary.

It wasn't badly written bu...more
An intruiging take at a biography of a very odd man. Aimed at, I would say, a freshman-in-college level audience, Rubin breaks up the story of Chruchill into 40 short chapters. In addition to hopping around Churchill's life, recounting his speeches and his oddities, she attempts to deconstruct the notion of a biography by writing parts of chapters from radically different points of view, some of them personal, some of them conflicting. Although occasionally repetative and not always 100% success...more
Biographies pick and choose the picture they present - Gretchen Rubin tries here to present many different facets of Winston Churchill and the complicated and contradictory life he lived by looking at him in forty different ways: father, painter, writer, etc. She doesn't shy away from his racism, insistance on colonial supremacy, and other more negative aspects of his life and worldview. There is some repetition of the same interesting facts (that he wore pink silk underwear has to be in there a...more
This was fine to dip into every once in a while over the year or so that I've had it -- to read a mini-biography here and there gave a good impression and a different perspective on biography. But, many of the 40 ways are less than interesting and she mines some of the same facts in multiple stories (Churchill had pink silk pajamas!) leaving so many more on the table -- after all, Martin Gilbert, his official biographer, only managed to pare down his one-volume biography to just under 1100 pages...more
A quick and surprisingly in-depth look at a great hero from WWII. Shows the many sides and extremes of Churchill: the racist/royalist/colonialist, the booze hound, the war hero (several times over), the prolific artist and author. Shunned by his own father, he spoiled his children to a fault... leaving them unable to live productive adult lives?

While Churchill stayed true to himself and his devotion to the world-wide British empire, without the war and Hitler, Churchill would have likely been d...more
Ahmed Assem
Who was Winston Churchill? Was he a hero who rose at a time of need to save England in its time of need? Or was he a Warmonger and a drunk who caused the demise of the British empire? Winston Churchill is a contradicting character and Gretchen Rubin deals with him as such. She does not hide her affection and admiration for him. Still, for every characteristic that was known about Churchill she gives the pro-points of view and against-points of view and leaves you to decide what would you make of...more
Cynthia  Scott
This book had a very unusual structure, purposefully designed by the author. She studied Winston Churchill in depth though many biographys and his letters and autobiography, and compiled 40 chapters which identify varying opinions, and finally her conclusions about what he did that is truely significant for the world. I really enjoyed this book and I learned a lot and now think carefully about the nature of a "biography." I recommend it even for those who aren't drawn to history books.
The author makes her case for Winston Churchill as a complicated, contradictory man -- but this is not news. Still, her admiration for him despite his faults is obvious and infectious. The brevity of her book is disappointing, but clearly her aim was not to make it an exhaustive biography but merely to provide an overview of his life for those afraid to tackle a more complete work (such as myself - The Last Lion has been both alluring and intimidating me for years!).
This book gives an honest assessment and some times both sides of arguments of who Winston Churchill is. Part of my fascination with Churchill is his faults and Rubin displays them well. She doesn't analyze too much and gives a good layout of definitive actions by Churchill--who made him what he was. I know this isn't the first or the last book I will read about Churchill, but it did contain stuff I didn't know and I love random knowledge.
Not your typical biographical undertaking, Rubin was upfront from the start at the way she would address her subject- from both directions (she does this in both the Churchill and Kennedy "Forty Ways" books). I found her method to be a good way to "dip a toe" into a subject, by giving a more broad overview of the life of Churchill, before deciding whether or not to tackle more weighty material on him. An interesting read on an interesting man.
I think 4 stars more because the subject is so interesting, not necessarily because this author did it so well. She didn't do a regular bio of Churchill, but each chapter a different topic. For instance, one chapter was about Hitler and Churchill, another was about was Churchill a good father, another just about his most memorable quotes. Not very fluid, and not very in depth.
This is one of the best biography's that I have read in a long time. I could not put it down!! The style and format is far more interesting than the usual bios.
When I was finished I felt that the author had captured the different faces of Winston that made his personality so intriguing. The hour was made for him and he did rise to the occasion. We owe him much.
The biographies of Winston Churchill tend to be massive in size and thus a little daunting. I had hoped that this would be a good substitute for thousands of pages. It was not at all--but rather a gathering of snippets of his life. It is difficult to get a cohesive look at him as a person through this book, but still it was informative.
Really 4.5 for this one. I loved this biography! It was short, easy to read a little bit at a time, but still thoughtful and unique. The author looks at Churchill from several different perspectives and explains why each perspective may be right in its own way. It feels like an authentic way to look at a person's life. Read it!
Churchill light.
I really tried to read this. Really tried to like it.
But in the end, it just seemed like the author wanted to justify getting ALL the little interesting details that she had researched into a junk drawer of a book. Yeah, I get it, point- counter-point, but it ends up a mess.
This is just one of very many accounts of the life of Winston Churchill. It stands out because the author is a woman; very rare in Churchill biographies. Also, the author was born after Churchill died so her perspective is more objective than others might be. It is very well organized and annotated.
Good, informative.. but I don't quite like a biography that doesn't take a stand. Biographers should research their subject, develop an opinion, and put it forth in the text. Rubin provides a lot of could-have-been-this or could-have-been-that depending on your point of view.
Aug 27, 2008 Janet marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janet by: Paula U.
One of the members of my book club mentioned she is reading this for another club she is a member of... it sounded interesting - each chapter takes a different look at Churchill. Seems like a nice way to get an overall feel for the man and who he was really.
Jennifer Hudson

I really enjoyed her approach not only to Churchill, but to the art of biography itself. I enjoyed the discussion of Churchill as a tragic hero. Really good, simple read. Worth the effort - especially if you're as fascinated by W.C. as I am.
John Flynn
I love things like this...books that explicate their subject and themselves. FORTY WAYS asks how does history work? This is a book about that question...and a rather fun, spirited look at a massive figure from contemporary history.
Kelly Hayes
Not only was this book a good look at Winston Churchill in 40 small chapters (which made it easy for a beginner to digest), but the author also critiques the art of biography itself.

Very informative and thought-provoking.
Mar 01, 2010 ACRL added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: motw
Read by ACRL Member of the Week Scott DiMarco. Learn more about Scott on the ACRL Insider blog.
Interesting, fun, and easy read. But not really the story of his life - just a lot of snippets and random ways to look at him. Makes me want to read a good biography; maybe the one by Paul Johnson?
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Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project--accounts of her experiences test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project,, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happi...more
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