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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

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  467 Ratings  ·  64 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
ebook, 313 pages
Published May 11th 2004 by Random House Trade (first published May 11th 2003)
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Sep 10, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  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
Apr 16, 2015 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know much at all about Winston Churchill before I read this. It was markedly different from a typical, straightforward biography, but in a good way. There were 40 different chapters-one was a timeline, one was a map, one was true/false, one was all photos. Most of the others were information/analysis.

A chapter I liked a lot was one with funny quotes from Churchill. -Man: "Vote for you? Why, I'd rather vote for the devil!" Churchill: "I understand, but in case your friend is not running
Apr 28, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The layout of the cover is rather blocky and unattractive. The tan and red color scheme doesn't help much either. Thankfully if you keep it on the shelf you won't have to look at it much. The fact that the pages are the same tan color as the cover is an issue for me as well. I like a book to have white pages and these have an ugly jaundiced look to them. The top of the pages are also covered with unsightly little brown spots. The possibility that these are tiny bug poops makes me hesitant to eve ...more
Stafford Davis
Jan 05, 2010 Stafford Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I had high hopes for this one and it was a bit of a let-down. In the introduction she does a good job of explaining the problems associated with creating a biography (biases, personal opinions, politics, hindsight....) and her attempts to get around all of those things. She tries to tackle each issue from multiple angles in an attempt to come across unbiased, but it just reads like a lot of regurgitated information that we all already know about Churchill. Ultimately in the end she admits that s ...more
Jul 04, 2011 Babs rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Mar 05, 2013 Ginger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mac, Cyndi, Bree, Nate, Matthew
I've been wanting to read more about Churchill. He's a fascinating character, but frankly, the amount of excellent information out there is daunting. Where to start?

This was an excellent place. Very good information, and a simple overview of his life, from forty different micro-perspectives. As always, you're in good hands with Gretchin Rubin's writing. Though very different from her usual topics of habits and happiness from what I'd previously read, she treats Churchill with great clarity, hone
Jun 20, 2011 Erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Feb 28, 2017 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This isn't really a biography of Winston Churchill. It's a bunch of interesting ways to think about him. So it helps if you already know the broad strokes of his fascinating life. I enjoyed the author's point of view, and I definitely will add another biography of Winston Churchill to my reading list.
Feb 26, 2017 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Not only lots of info on Churchill, but a look at how a writer's preconceptions shape the message.
Jan 15, 2016 AngieA rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Biographies are fraught with issues; author bias, changing sensibilities, societal attitudes can all impact the product and color the final portrait of the subject. Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun) has taken what could and perhaps should have been a monumental task and broken it down into bite size pieces just right for a newby like me to handle. I have always ad ...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
Mar 30, 2010 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 23, 2008 CB rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
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
Brian Colella
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
Feb 28, 2012 Harlan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 23, 2008 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 04, 2010 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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
Dec 22, 2015 Brigitta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Knowing very little of Churchill previously, this book gave an excellent overview of his life. Rubin's deliberate style of highlighting every biographer's inherent bias gave a clear picture of this controversial figure. Namely, demonstrating why he is so controversial and why Churchill's boisterous persona continues to permeate imaginations, 50 years after his death. The book, skimming family life, political life, and the numerous facets making up a figure makes me feel as if I've read the tomes ...more
Aug 01, 2016 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have spent most of my life learning and reading about Winston Churchill, and yes my dog's name is Winston. This "brief account" of Churchill's life is a fabulous way to look at him. The author provides solid arguments, and for a book this size they are adequate and make you want to do your own research to see what side of her argument you fall on. If you are just entering the Churchill world or are a Churchill fan club member you will find something new! I sure did and I wouldn't never have kn ...more
Beth Dillman
Apr 08, 2015 Beth Dillman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This delightful book does not read like a traditional biography. Rubin is a woman after my own heart, presenting Winston Churchill as if he is on trial, examining every facet of his life — good and bad. Recognizing that biographies are inherently biased, she leans into that bias and presents both the favorable and the unfavorable as if this were a courtroom drama. She then allows the reader to reach her own conclusions about Churchill’s character.
Reasonable, as far as it goes - but therein lies the problem... it doesn't go far enough. Like a stone skimmed across the surface of a pool, instead of sinking down into the depths, this touches too briefly on Winston's life and achievements. I suppose it would serve as a good introduction to the man, to judge whether one would like to learn more about him. However if you've read any of the more detailed biographies that have been written over the years, this will leave little (if any) impressio ...more
Ahmed Assem
May 13, 2013 Ahmed Assem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kay Schenkel
Apr 28, 2015 Kay Schenkel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: enjoyment
I'm a Gretchen Rubin fan so when I heard about these earlier works of hers, I was intrigued. I didn't know much about Winston Churchill and this was a great introduction. Rubin's goal was to show that any biography leaves out details that don't support the author's views of the subject. In "Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill" she uses facts about his life to support opposing views about him. She also has done the same for JFK and I will be reading that soon. Very interesting introduction to ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Nolan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookshare
I enjoyed this book, since it at least gives you a kind of pocket profile of Churchill. It seems nicely balanced; there are chapters about Churchill the success and about Churchill the alcoholic. He was a good dad; he was an absentee distant dad. She seems to hae synthesized various interpretations of various biographers, and to that degree, it's instructive. This isn't an in-depth look by any measure, but it's a quick read that on balance you won't regret.
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.
Cynthia  Scott
Sep 20, 2010 Cynthia Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
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.
Sep 29, 2009 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!).
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I am the author of New York Times bestsellers The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before. I write about my experiences as I test-drive the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happy, to see what really worked. Happily, all three books became New York Times bestsellers. My newest book about the Four Tendencies, releases ...more
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“When Churchill was running for office for the first time, he went door to door to ask for votes. He knocked on the door of an irritable man who, when Churchill introduced himself, said, “Vote for you? Why, I’d rather vote for the devil!” “I understand,” answered Churchill. “But in case your friend is not running, may I count on your support?” 3 likes
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