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The Last Lion 3: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 (The Last Lion #3)

4.38  ·  Rating Details ·  3,426 Ratings  ·  418 Reviews
Spanning the years of 1940-1965, The Last Lion picks up shortly after Winston Churchill became Prime Minister—when his tiny island nation stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. The Churchill conjured up by William Manchester and Paul Reid is a man of indomitable courage, lightning fast intellect, and an irresistible will to action.

The Last Lion brilli

Hardcover, 1232 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company (first published November 6th 2011)
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Gaby Steven, Yes, it is quite the job to read, but very entertaining. Manchester was a wonderful historian. Very thorough. Have you read the first two…moreSteven, Yes, it is quite the job to read, but very entertaining. Manchester was a wonderful historian. Very thorough. Have you read the first two parts? I am currently reading the last one and enjoying it immensely.

A couple of my favorite bits so far are:

In his autobiography, My Early Life, he wrote: "I do think unpunctuality is a vile habit, and all my life I have tried to break myself of it."

Churchill contributed to the lengthening paper trail with his river of memos marked "Action This Day" and "Report in 3 Days." Many began, "Pray tell me...," or "Pray explain...," which earned his memos the moniker "Winston's prayers."(less)

Community Reviews

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Oct 23, 2012 Tony rated it it was amazing

Manchester chose wisely.

Having written the first two volumes of The Last Lion, and then taken ill, Manchester could have tried an amanuensis, could have named any of hundreds of credentialed historians, or, for that matter, could just have let the project die unfulfilled. Yet he chose Paul Reid, who came with Marines to visit the author, to talk of the war and baseball. And came, invited, again and again. Like those of us who have waited 24 years, Paul Reid must surely have known he held a sacre
To read a well written biography, and memoirs for that fact, can be an exceptional experience. The Last Lion 3: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 is a superb example. I loved all three parts of Winston Churchill's life story. Despite the death of William Manchester, Paul Reid did a superb job of concluding it. It was not the same, and we couldn't expected it to be just from the fact they are two different individuals, but was exceptionally done.

I suffered along with Ch
Andy Klein
I am sorry to say that Volume 3 did not come close to the two that preceded it. Lost was Manchester's turn of the phrase and grandiose style. This volume focused far too much on the minutiae of the war and far too little on the 20 years that followed it.

I challenge any reader to find any passage that even approaches this one from Volume I:

England's new leader, were he to prevail, would have to stand for everything England's decent, civilized Establishment had rejected. They viewed Adolph Hitler
Description: Spanning the years of 1940-1965, The Last Lion picks up shortly after Winston Churchill became Prime Minister—when his tiny island nation stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. The Churchill conjured up by William Manchester and Paul Reid is a man of indomitable courage, lightning fast intellect, and an irresistible will to action.

The Last Lion brilliantly recounts how Churchill organized his nation's military response and defense; compelled FDR into supporting
Mikey B.
Oct 05, 2013 Mikey B. rated it it was amazing
This is a magnificent conclusion to the life of Winston Churchill. It covers the period from May 1940 to when he died in January of 1965. It is the last volume of William Manchester’s trilogy on the life of this really oversized personality. This book just shines with so many stirring passages of the events of the era – Dunkirk, the air battles that saved England, El Alamein... His interaction and conflicts with those surrounding him, like Alan Brooke (Chief of the Imperial General Staff) and Ha ...more
Aug 13, 2012 Martin rated it liked it
Three hundred some odd pages in. I've read a fair amount about Churchill over the years, since reading the first two last lion books. There are a lot of good, and very good biographies of the man available. This is an excellent biography. It is more Paul Reid than William Manchester, but he has done an excellent job. He does not hesitate to leave the main narration to explain subtle points.

After I finished it, I forgot to update the review. This book is excellent
Brad Lyerla
Mar 16, 2013 Brad Lyerla rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
On May 10, 1940, King George VI accepted Neville Chamberlain’s resignation as prime minister of the United Kingdom and its empire. Early that morning, Hitler had unleashed the German blitzkrieg on the Low Countries initiating the western front of the European Theater of the greatest war in human history. Before the day ended, King George had appointed the sixty-five-year-old Winston Churchill to replace Chamberlain and lead the government and its war effort to oppose Hitler. Thus, begins DEFENDE ...more
Jun 06, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
I read the first two volumes years ago and was awaiting the third, but as Manchester got older and older I was afraid he would never finish it. Evidently he was afraid too and finally enlisted journalist Paul Reid to finish it. Manchester had done most of the research. The book finally came out last fall.

Manchester is, in my opinion, one of the best writers on contemporary history, well history written for the general public at least, though his books are wide ranging including a biog of Mencken
This outstanding narrative biography covers Churchill’s life from his return to government as Lord of the Admiralty soon after war broke out and on through his six years as prime minister during the war and beyond that to his death in 1965. The unfolding of the whole war from Churchill’s perspective was so compelling I almost didn’t want the book to end, despite a commitment that involved weeks with the audiobook version. It felt pretty mind expanding to be commuting along or stacking wood for t ...more
Nov 18, 2012 Craig rated it it was amazing
Oh my God, the conclusion to the greatest biography in the history of biographies! I never thought this book would get completed after Manchester died. I cannot express how urgently I want to read this book.
Nov 13, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
In the final volume of the Churchill biography, Manchester hands over the reins to Paul Reid. Hand-picked by the great biographer after a debilitating stroke, Reid picks up with Churchill holding the reins of power as Hitler has begun his sweep across Europe. Using Manchester’s style of historical writing and attention to detail, Reid plays the storyteller of the greatest part of Churchill’s life, the Second World War. The narrative shows both triumphs and pitfalls that could turn Churchill from ...more
Steven Peterson
Dec 01, 2012 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing
This is the third volume in a three volume series, a biography of Winston Churchill, begun by William Manchester. When it came time for the third volume, health problems forced Manchester to seek assistance--and Paul Reid finished the work after Manchester's death. Despite that sad history, the book works well and completes the trilogy very well.

This volume covers Churchill's life from 1940 until his death in 1965. At the outset, Churchill is named Prime Minister, achieving the goal of a lifetim
Jan 03, 2013 John rated it it was amazing
Americans suffer every day of their lives (individually and nationally) for their virtually complete ignorance of history. William Spencer Churchill was (my opinion) the greatest citizen of the world in the 20th century, making this book is a “must-read” for those seeking to understand the modern world. “Defender of The Realm” tells the story of Churchill’s life from his ascendancy into the Prime Minister’s job in 1940 until his death in 1965. Churchill’s finest hour was likely the year 1940 thr ...more
Aug 31, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
A truly fascinating look into the life of Winston Churchill. I definately recommend this book to anyone who is interested in WWII or in history. I enjoyed the insights into Churchill's life not only as the Prime Minister, but also as a member of the British aristocracy. There is never much written in history texts about Churchill and that was the only previous way I had learned about him, so this book was a great breath of fresh air. Now I'll have to read the first two installments to cover what ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Lori rated it it was amazing
Naively I used to think that the Brits would be speaking German if it had not been for Churchill; after reading/listening to this Amazing history -53 hour 27min - found that there would not be England as we know it or Europe or perhaps US. Hitler had plans to conquer Britain take all the men to slave labor camps . .. One can only imagine their fate and the fate of the whole world if Churchill had not lead the fight. This book give thorough history of WWII and could pass as a history book. It sho ...more
Mar 22, 2013 Ross rated it really liked it
This is a very good, well written book covering the war years and later that Manchester was not able to write himself. I enjoyed Volume 3 more than the first two volumes which Manchester did write. This is mainly because the war years were so important to civilization and to marking Churchill as one of the very greatest figures of history. It is very important, however, that the reader first go through Volumes 1 and 2 in order to better understand the Churchill that appears in Volume 3.
Aug 20, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it
This is the final volume of William Manchester's great historical trilogy covering the life of Winston Churchill. It was completed and published a number of years after his June, 2004 death by his friend Paul Reid. Manchester's failing health prevented him from being able to put words to print since at least 2001. Reid had befriended him several years earlier but it wasn't until late 2003, literally months before his death, that Manchester finally enlisted Reid to finish the book.

It is interesti
Jan 08, 2014 John rated it it was amazing
In my review of volume II of William Manchester's magnum opus biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion, I said the following in anticipation of beginning the third and final volume: "Thankfully, volume III was finished after his death by an author of his choosing, but it would have been invaluable to have Manchester at the height of his powers, as he is here, to finish the story." Now after having finished the final volume, The Last Lion 3: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, ...more
Loring Wirbel
Aug 01, 2013 Loring Wirbel rated it it was amazing
We already knew from the first two volumes, and from Manchester's reputation as a historian in other realms, that this book had the potential to be great. The concerns were two - would the coverage of Churchill during WW2 be too hagiographic, and would Paul Reid be able to take over from the deceased Manchester and finish the three-volume Churchill history in seamless fashion? The book passed both tests with flying colors.

This is a massive 1000-page tome that tries to give an overview of WW2 w
Brendan Hodge
Mar 04, 2013 Brendan Hodge rated it really liked it
I'd very much enjoyed the original two volumes by William Manchester, and Paul Reid makes a good job of the difficult task of completing the last volume of the late Manchester's work. If Reid falls at all short of Manchester's prose style, it is only very slightly. Like Manchester he provides us with a wealth of (sometimes contradictory) quotes from those who worked with Churchill, both positive and negative, and an even larger helping of Churchill's own words. Despite it's massive length it rip ...more
Apr 22, 2014 May rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
William Manchester wrote the first two volumes of his planned Winston Churchill biography (The Last Lion: Visions of Glory and The Last Lion: Alone) before suffering several strokes that resulted in his inability to continue writing. This third volume was written by Paul Reid based on Manchester's notes and research and covers Churchill's life starting with his return from political exile during World War II to his death.
In some ways, Paul Reid had an impossible task. William Manchester was a ly
Nov 05, 2012 Don rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Along with David McCullough, William Manchester is my favorite biographer. His first volume of The Last Lion is my all time favorite biography and I have read hundreds of biographies.

I read volume 1 in 1984 and volume 2 in 1988. I looked forward to reading volume 3 and as the years went by Manchester felt he was not going to be able to finish it do to the affects of aging. Lucky for us, Paul Reid took on the difficult task of finishing the work from Manchesters notes. It is not possible to compl
Nov 09, 2012 John rated it really liked it
A detailed and engrossing look at a remarkable man, Winston Churchill, who led England during the traumatic and dangerous period of 1940- 1945. The authors demonstrated his dominance of the English war effort both in civilian and military arenas. Think of the range of issues that the English faced including their very survival as an independent and democratic nation/empire. The early evacuation of Dunkirk, the blitz of London, the Battle of the Atlantic where the U-Boats success had crippled mer ...more
Jul 04, 2014 Frank rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
A fine finish to this extensive and detailed biography of the one the greatest men of the 20th century. A vast majority of the biography covers the war years, as Churchill goes it alone against the Nazis and forges a relationship with FDR, and dealing with the British military. With America's, and the Soviet Union's entry into the war, Churchill begins to see the waning strength and influence of Britain as a world power. Thus truly by wars end taking a backseat to the decisions of Post War Europ ...more
Gilbert michaud
Oct 12, 2012 Gilbert michaud rated it really liked it
a 25 year wait was a looong wait no .way too long.
Robin Friedman
Dec 11, 2016 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing
Defender Of The Realm

"Defender of the Realm, 1940 -- 1965" is the final volume of William Manchester's massive three-volume biography, "The Last Lion", of Winston Churchill (1874 -- 1965). The first volume, published in 1983, titled "Visions of Glory", covered Churchill's life from 1874 -- 1932, while the second volume, published in 1988, titled simply "Alone, covered the years 1932 -- 1940. This new sweeping third volume covers Churchill's life beginning with his ascension to the office of Prim
David Glad
Aug 25, 2012 David Glad rated it it was amazing
I received this from a giveaway, but also got a hold of the audiobook (an epic 51 hours long) to accelerate my way through it.

Starting off, it really needs to be said that the United States has never had a leader as good as him at representing what's best for our country. Combined with Volume 2, you do get the distinct impression that if Britain either made peace after Dunkirk or didn't attack Germany period, that Hitler would have tried to snuff out the British Empire. Also a nice note near the
Sep 30, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, wwii, britain
Paul Reid did William Manchester right. Unable to complete his third volume due to health reasons, Manchester asked Reid to compile his notes and then complete the work. Reid has done an outstanding job of writing this book in the same style as Manchester's prior works. The book is very detailed and concentrates on the most important part of Churchill's life, the war years, 1940 through 1945. The last 10% of the book cover 1946 through 1965. Churchill's personality is revealed through the intera ...more
Feb 21, 2013 Douglas rated it really liked it
I decided to read all three volumes of The Last Lion after hearing an interview with Paul Reid on NPR in mid-December last. Since the year's start I read them all (3500 plus pages in all). I loved the loving care William Manchester took in delving into Winston Churchill's life up to the day he found himself Prime Minister while France was falling under the boot of Nazi Germany in May 1940. I have never read a biography which delivered such a complete portrait of it's subject. It likely was becau ...more
Bruce Cook
Dec 05, 2013 Bruce Cook rated it it was amazing
I was an avid follower of William Manchester and he became my favorite author. I knew he was sick and that he had bogged down in finishing the third volume of The Last Lion. He was able to squeeze in A World Lit Only by Fire, which I devoured in just a few days. I despaired when he passed away without having finished the last volume on Churchill. I was surprised and gratified when Defender of the Realm came out, having been finished by Paul Reid. I purchased the volume right away even though I w ...more
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William Raymond Manchester was an American author and biographer, notable as the bestselling author of 18 books that have been translated into 20 languages.He was awarded the National Humanities Medal and the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award.
More about William Manchester...

Other Books in the Series

The Last Lion (3 books)
  • The Last Lion 1: Visions of Glory 1874-1932
  • The Last Lion 2: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone, 1932-40

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“His effect on men is one of interest and curiosity, not of admiration and loyalty. His power is the power of gifts, not character. Men watch him, but do not follow him.” 4 likes
“In many ways Churchill remained a nineteenth-century man, and by no means a common man. He fit the mold of what Henry James called in English Hours “persons for whom the private machinery of ease has been made to work with extraordinary smoothness.” 4 likes
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