Gerry's Reviews > Churchill

Churchill by Paul  Johnson
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's review
Mar 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: bio, history
Read in March, 2010

Wow, for a short book (158 pages) Johnson provides an interesting overview of Churchill, a soldier, adventurer, journalist, pilot, politician, statesman, author and artist. OK, as a history buff I am well aware of Churchill though I admit I never knew his depth. In his 90 years of life he served 55 years as a member of parliament, 31 years as a minister and nearly 9 years as prime minister, he published nearly 10 million words, painted over 500 canvases and drank nearly 20,000 bottles of champaign.
I was aware of his Boer War adventure as a young journalist, taken as a POW by the Boers, only to escape and make his way back to British lines. But I did not know that prior to that adventure he was a cavalry officer and engaged in a punitive raid against the Pathans when stationed in India, and that he was in one of the last British cavalry charges in the battle of Omdurman (1899),a punitive expedition against the dervishes to avenge the murder of Gordon at Khartoom. Curiously, both of these actions were against Islamic fundamentalists, sound familiar. Churchill earned a metal and wrote a book about both actions. Also, I was impressed by his being an early pilot. I believe this experience gave him an added appreciation of air power.
His political career is astounding, with various party alliances, rises and falls, amid mistakes and triumphs. He was a prominent figure in the first world war and and a primary character in the second. And then there is his wit. My wife Deb enjoyed the Churchill characterization of Americas' Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles as, "The only bull I know who caries his own china shop around with him." But I like even better his observation, "That man makes a beautiful declension: 'Dull, Duller, Dulles'". Dull, Churchill never was.

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