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Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  343 ratings  ·  57 reviews
A friend once said of Churchill He is a man of simple tastes; he is quite easily satisfied with the best of everything.

But dinners for Churchill were about more than good food, excellent champagnes and Havana cigars. Everything included the opportunity to use the dinner table both as a stage on which to display his brilliant conversational talents, and an intimate setting
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published October 9th 2011 by Short Books Limited
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At the 20% mark, I wasn't thrilled. The blurb says it all well. The first introduction expands on this & is a bit long. The second isn't quite as long, but pretty much reiterates both. The text, so far, seems to just expand on these, but without any binding thread. We're bouncing all around from 1930 through the 1950s without rhyme or reason. There is little in the way of first hand accounts, just factoids scattered about. It's trivia. As another reviewer mentioned, it's like a museum tour. ...more
The audio version of this book was entertaining, but I can't say it added all that much to my knowledge and appreciation of Winston Churchill. Like good after-dinner conversation, the book bounced around among various topics, time periods, people, and events, all related in a witty, companionable style. It made for good listening, and the theme (food and drink) was a novel way to approach the subject. Kudos for mining what was obviously a rich vein in the Churchillian mines.
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
3 1/2 stars really. I liked the idea and the many stories sprinkled throughout, but I agree with some of the other reviews that this book is all over the place. Good material in need of a stronger editor.

The most important element of this book for me was Stelzer's debunking Churchill as a drunk. According to her research, Churchill didn't drink nearly as much as he liked to put on, and apparently no one ever saw him "drunk" or impaired. He watered down his whiskey to the point that it was practi
Jeff Kelleher
Mar 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Lavish stage settings but no performances.

Enroute through Scotland to Newfoundland for his August, 1941 meeting with Roosevelt, Churchill ordered a grouse hunt outside Perth for the Presidential dinner that would come later aboard HMS Prince of Wales. Is that interesting? Yes it is, along with a hundred other details showing Churchill's extreme care in planning and carrying out dinner parties as instruments of statesmanship.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked four months later, the US public was in a
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I think most readers have had exposure to World War II history. Most of us have at least cursory knowledge of the big players - FDR, Churchill, Stalin. I was attracted to Dinner with Churchill because of its subject matter - Churchill's use of the dinner table to forward his policies. We're talking food here - and cocktails, and conversation!

Churchill is an iconic figure. His size, his cigars, his whiskey, his indomitable spirit. He has always been a symbol of Britain's steadfast resistance to t
William DuFour
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
An interesting new take on Churchill and what, when and how he ate. An overlooked subject.
Really, this deserves 3.5 stars. Dinner with Churchill is a fairly delightful look at the banquets and dinners and eating and drinking habits of the King's First Minister, before, after, and mostly during the Second World War.

If there's anything holding the book back, perhaps, it's the rather sweeping claims about Churchill's dining representing so much of his character. I know the normal school of thought when it comes to history requires a thesis, but this one may have been a bit...stretched
Mike Gabor
This book should appeal to fans of Winston Churchill such as myself. The author explains how Churchill felt that good food and good conversation helped him achieve his goals. She gives us a quick overview of important dinners in Churchill's life especially the ones he hosted during WWII. She also runs down the menus for the dinners, tells us about Churchill's favorite food and drinks, and also gives us a list of important people that Churchill hosted. It's a very quick read and fairly well writt ...more
Jim Zubricky
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I consider myself a pretty good bibliophile on Churchill (although I'm working my way through the three-volume biography). This book is a very nice, easy, light reading on the subject of food, liquor, cigars: the things that Churchill loved. More importantly: how did Churchill use dinner parties to work his "magic" and win people to see his point of view. If you're interesting in Churchill, or hosting parties, or looking for a quick read, check this book out.

Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: at-my-library
I have been reading Manchester's "The Last Lion," and this was nice change of pace. Excellent but not-too-intense overview of Churchill's dinner diplomacy. It would probably not be interesting for those who aren't acquainted with Churchill's life -- but it is fascinating for a Churchill enthusiast. And I think that the appendix of "Diners" is the real treasure. It contains brief biographical sketches of significant guests -- who just happen to be major figures in UK and US politics.
A light, but still an entertaining, review of Churchill's use of social settings to achieve substantive political and personal goals. The stories about his interactions with FDR and Stalin are particularly enjoyable.
Scott Vander ploeg
Dec 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Author a little too in love with her subject.
Cole Kephart
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cita Stelzer (author of Dinner with Churchill) is most certainly a genius. Her grandeur attempt at describing the raw culinary power of Sir Churchill was not only a requiem for a political mastermind, but a love letter to Churchill enthusiasts such as myself. In Dinner with Churchill, Stelzer not only paints a picture of what Churchill was like in a diplomatic setting, but what it was like to dine with him. Mrs. Stelzer made it possible to know Sir Churchill, as if we were having tea together. T ...more
The first third of the book is very interesting - includes menus and conversations from Churchill's dinner with FDR and Stalin, as well as others. Churchill believed that food and conversation were the way to solve problems. He didn't like it when the US or USSR hosted and had music during dinner! The second third of the book is about rationing, and certainly made it easy to understand what made Churchill popular with the British people. He made sure everyone suffered from rationing to the point ...more
Andy Dollahite
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. My major complaint is the book fails to cogently outline Churchill’s policy/diplomacy at the dinner table. It reviews, in frequently alluring detail the meals and delicacies he imbibed and devoured. And it outlines the political players assembled for such events. But it failed to connect all of it under a coherent thesis. In terms of a providing a cheat sheet for Churchill’s culinary preferences and some of his work lobbying the Americans and the Soviets, it’s decent. I’d really only ...more
Mary Pat
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
A re-hashing of so many anecdotes that are better told elsewhere, with wonky copyediting where you have inset boxes thrown on the page haphazardly, breaking up one's reading. I can only imagine how this looked in e-book version.

It really didn't take all that long to read when I actually sat down to read it. It was just so boring, I kept setting it aside for more interesting books. I'm donating it to my library sale .. maybe someone needs help going to sleep.
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's only so many meals I can read about.
Harriett Gamer
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good for Thought

An unconventional view of history. Easy read but informative especially for the casual reader. There are quite a few quotables.
Nancy Shaffer
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A really good book; a history book that reads like a novel, with bios at the end of the book on 120 people who dined with Mr. Churchill.
Mark Paul
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great angle, built on previous research!
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it

"Really the PM is a lunatic: he gets in such a state of excitement that the wildest schemes seem reasonable. I hope to goodness we can defeat this one." -Oliver Harvey, Eden's Principle Private Secretary

"My wife and I tried two or three times in the last forty years to have breakfast together, but it didn't work. Breakfast should be had in bed alone. Not downstairs after one has dressed." It is reported that Churchill's eyes twinkled as he reported this.

"When I dine after a hard day's w
Aug 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Title: Dinner with Churchill
Author: Cita Stelzer
Narrator: Davina Porter
Publisher/Date: Blackstone Audio, 04/15/14
ISBN: 9780792797050

So, I have to start this off as saying that, obviously, Churchill is one of the worlds most interesting men of the modern age. That being said, we have to take this audiobook to task for failing to deliver that in its narration.

The voice work was good. Very good. The choice of actress was wonderful - she has a very classic and upper class British accent that doesn
Donna Brown
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Dinner with Churchill was a pretty delightful look at Churchill’s idiosyncrasies, love of food, mannerisms and foibles. I’d read certain accounts of the meetings and conferences of the allies but this was a new experience. Instead of Churchill the leader, the politician, we see Churchill in a light he certainly seemed to thrive under: Churchill the schmoozer, the socialiser, the conversationalist.

Ranging from recounted stories to notes made on menus or housekeeper’s instructions, the captured mo
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book, history
The author’s purports to show the importance of Churchill’s dinners to his diplomacy, but is somewhat weak in developing this part of the book. On the other hand the book does reveal Churchill’s gastronomic taste. Eating, drinking and smoking habits were part of Churchill’s persona in his later years. The book covers these areas in great detail. Stelzer keeps pointing out that WSC followed the 19th century manner of formal dining with fancy china and cutlery and multiple courses. All dinners wer ...more
John Blevins
Sep 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Fun to read anecdotes of how Churchill used food and meals as diplomatic and educational opportunities.
Now meals to him meant 3 to 4 hours together, without Facebook, in conversation (or perhaps himself expounding..).
There was actually too much info on the menus, etc for me as a barely capable minimalist cook - but some foodies will love it. Though I must say that one serious handicap of the Kindle is its inability to display any detail (like text…) with images. I do hope Amazon can find a solu
Marc Cooper
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Honestly this book was not what I thought it would be, although it could be interesting if you really want to know just about what a historical figure ate. The subtitle of "Policy making at the Dinner table" was a bit deceptive as the book is 99% about 'menu making for the dinner table.' It is explained that dinners were important to Churchill for diplomatic relations and policy, as a sort of pretext, but there is little information about actual discussions at the dinner table that led to key tu ...more
Apr 12, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was written in a particular mood aiming to present and explain many wartime excentricities of Churchill and other members of his entourage and the ruling class as to show his proficiency in using the oldest method of diplomatic relations - food. It offers a surprisingly fresh and detailed description of an otherwise known and well-researched public figure, finally giving some rest to the myths and I daresay - even providing some arguments on productivity to other sufferers of an extrem ...more
Steve H
There are the usual biographies of political and war-time figures that focus on dates, philosophies, strategies, and political machinations. Here's one that paints a portrait of a well-known individual based on his stomach, or more accurately, his gustatory preferences and how those worked into his political and war-time negotiations. This is a relatively brief book, and my favorite parts are the more anecdotal sections of Churchill choosing foods, making seating arrangements, and planning parti ...more
Tom Hammer
Sep 07, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karl F.
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the techniques of persuasion used by Winston Churchill to further his strategic vision for fighting the war, this book focuses only on his use of dinner parties, which, he believed, could accomplished his objectives which conference rooms could not.

His success resulted from detailed planning of his dinner parties, his ability to make a case for his strategy of the moment, and with facts on the ground (For example, in late December 1941 British troops were fighting against Hitler while th
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A freelance journalist and a Research Associate at the Hudson Institution, Cita Stelzer previously worked for John Lindsay, Mayor of New York, and Governor Hugh Carey.
“It is well to remember that the stomach governs the world," wrote Churchill when planning the feeding of his troops on the north-west Indian frontier at the tail-end of the nineteenth century.” 3 likes
“Churchill had definite views on sandwiches, insisting that “the bread must be wafer-thin, nothing more than a vehicle to convey the filling to the stomach”, as he munched happily on some cold beef sandwiches he had brought with him.13 Because of Churchill’s sometimes troublesome indigestion, Dr. Hunt, his gastroenterologist, had, in 1936, recommended eating sandwiches before going to bed, a suggestion to which Churchill agreed.14” 1 likes
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