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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-40

(The Last Lion #2)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  11,331 ratings  ·  414 reviews
In this powerful biography, the middle volume of William Manchester’s critically acclaimed trilogy, Winston Churchill wages his defining campaign: not against Hitler’s war machine but against his own reluctant countrymen. Manchester contends that even more than his leadership in combat, Churchill’s finest hour was the uphill battle against appeasement. As Parliament receiv ...more
Paperback, 800 pages
Published September 3rd 1989 by Bantam (first published October 28th 1988)
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The Last Lion 2: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone, 1932-40, another hit for William Maschester! I think nobody could have surmised better than Maschester who Winston Spencer Churchill was, as he begins the second volume of his The Last Lion trilogy:

"...But now, fourteen years after the Armistice of 1918, the Weald (of Kent) is an idyll of peace, and the explorer on foot finds that it possesses camouflaged delights... There, among eighty sheltering acres of beech, oak, lime, and chestnut, stand
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Manchester’s second volume is the shortest chronological time period of the three, yet is equally as exciting and jam-packed with information as the first. It tackles Churchill’s life, both political and personal, with the rise of the Nazis and the lacklustre activities of the British Government as its main backdrops. Manchester again depicts Churchill as a great prophet, standing alone while Hitler steamrolls not only to power, but turns Europe into his plaything. While the book is biographic i ...more
This second of three volumes by the masterful biographer covers the critical period of European history that encompasses the run-up to World War 2. The read is not quite as fun as the first volume because for most of this period Churchill was excluded from the governments in power. But it made for a thoroughly engaging tale of his persistent efforts to wield influence to counter the unfortunate policy of appeasement that Britain and France took while Nazi Germany grew ever more powerful and aggr ...more
Lewis Weinstein
A brilliant, comprehensive account of Churchill's role in the crucial time frame when England and the world refused to listen to him. I'm reading parts of this as research for my draft of a sequel to A FLOOD OF EVIL ... A Flood of Evil

Currently reading about the events that preceded Hitler's occupation of the Rhineland in 1936.

Lewis Weinstein
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A magnificent history, beautifully researched, well written ... a pleasure to read ... and lots of details I may get to use in the sequel to A FLOOD OF EVIL
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished The Last Lion Part 2: Alone, 1932-1940. It left me with a pit in my stomach. This reinforces my theory that the actions of the useful idiots: The naive, the pacifists, the isolationists, the self-loathing liberals, the peace-at-any-cost crowd are the cause of more wars and end up killing more Americans and more people than the so-called warmongers that they purport to despise. It is ironic that in this case it was Great Britain’s Tory (conservative) party that helped to create a ...more
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, history
Wow! I still have goosebumps from reading the ending of Volume II of this magnificent biographical trilogy. Churchill becomes Prime Minister as Nazi tanks roll across France. At 65 years old, Churchill assumes power to take on the dominating foe that he has been warning the nation about for years.

Manchester’s writing is so powerful and descriptive, you can almost smell Winston’s cigar. Well researched and with quotes from letters, and diaries, the reality of those times become authentic, and re
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eight hundred plus pages of Churchill in the wilderness. The book was hard to read as I found myself exasperated at a whole class of leaders, a whole nation, actually many nations, that could not see what Churchill could see. I understand that knowing the history of WWII gives me a special position to judge, but I found it nearly unbelievable almost no one for a decade did not heed the warnings in his speeches and writings.
Warned about a rearming Germany and calling for the United Kingdom to rea
Carol Storm
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an awe-inspiring man, and what a tremendously ambitious biography. Succeeds beyond all expectation!
Michael Perkins
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
The first volume of this trilogy reads like a novel. A friend of mine, based on the mixture of subject matter for volume 1 and the great writing, described reading it as "like eating candy."

This second volume was not only much shorter than many expected, but did not live up to the level of the writing in volume 1. I would learn many years later that the author was struggling with a serious case of writer's block. Which also explains why he never wrote the final volume, even though he had done a
Thomas Cook
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Perseverance and redemption defined
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the pinnacle of longform biography. This, the second in Manchester’s trilogy, covers the relatively brief excerpt of Churchill’s life from 1932—1940, but stands on its own as a symphony that reads in three sweeping movements.

Manchester opens with an Allegro tone, visiting Churchill in his beloved Chartwell home, describing his daily routine—which sounds mundane but is really quite something.

Then the clouds roll in. The idyllic, bright, energized scenery is dimmed by the growing twiligh
Mikey B.
Speech of March 26, 1936 (page 192, my book)
“When you are drifting down the stream of Niagara, it may easily happen that from time to time you run into a reach of quite smooth water, or that a bend in the river or a change in the wind may make the roar of the falls seem far more distant. But, your hazard and your preoccupation are in no way affected thereby.”

Speech of December 31,1937 (page 243)
“After all, it is a horrible thing that a race of people should be attempted to be blotted out of the
Deb Cutler
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was the most compelling biography I have ever read. For years I have wondered how to understand World War II-the forces that led up to it and the counties that seemed to just give up and allow Hitler and the Nazi's to take over their countries. This book weaves together the facts and the opinions of not just Winston Churchill, but the other politicians and observers in a logical, sympathetic (sometimes) way. I am going to read the preceding work and finally the WWII years so that I have a b ...more
An eloquent voicing crying out in the wilderness a warning of war and dismissed until vindicated when that war begins, the nation and the world towards him as the last shining hope of the war. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940 is the second volume of William Manchester’s biographical trilogy which deals with Churchill’s life during his political “wilderness” years as Europe slid towards war.

From the outset Manchester indicates that a biography is not just about a person,
Nov 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
This second volume is good, focused on the years 1932-1940... Manchester examines the internal politics of Britain and the international diplomatic goings on of Europe at the time. Churchill is the main character of course, but Manchester keeps this book very broad and zeroes in on quite a few political figures, especially Neville Chamberlain (to devastating effect) and quite a few other European figures.

Manchester makes it easy to follow the diplomatic strategies and decisions taken by various
Jason Russell
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Utterly brilliant. A mesmerizing read from cover to cover. It was a bit jarring to realize about 250 pages in that the focus would stray only briefly and infrequently away from the growing Nazi menace and Churchill's solitary voice warning against it. But that's where the story was.

This volume, tragically, paints a horrible picture of the British policy of appeasement, which dominated the cabinet, the media, and other stakeholders, well before it was infamously embodied at Munich. Looking back
Fr. Peter Mottola
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: overdrive
Winston Churchill's crusade to the warn the world about Hitler is painful to read about: the great admiration for the Nazis shown by so many Englishman will rile the modern reader. But the events of these years show Churchill's strength of character, which should be inspiring to anyone who has ever played the role of a lone voice crying out in the wilderness.
The audiobook narration by Richard Brown is vastly inferior to the production of volume one by Frederick Davidson, but the book itself is s
John Bohnert
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was very difficult to read how Britain repeatedly appeased Hitler. Churchill alone spoke out over the prewar years warning Britain that Hitler was a serious threat. But Winston was ridiculed.
Sherry Sharpnack
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Alone" is Book #2 in the three-volume biography of arguably the greatest Englishman EVER, Winston Spencer Churchill. It covers the years 1932-1940 when Churchill was a backbencher in Parliament, ignored for a ministry by his own party. He was the lone voice crying in the wilderness about Adolph Hitler. All the government, the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, and even the English people wanted was peace. Peace at any price. This led to the policy of appeasememnt, of constantly saying, "This ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I finished this book with several thoughts.

1. He was less than perfect. 1 affair, issues with racism (though when you compare him to Hitler and Nazi officials he's positively polite*), his bluntness, inability to live simply... they all are part of this very imperfect being.

2. I don't know the details of Manchester's illness(?) and death, but perhaps that accounts for his struggle to tell the story at times. He would get caught up in what Winston did during Baldwin's ministry and follow it for
Doreen Petersen
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
Loved, loved, loved this book! Churchill was a unique and complicated man but a man for his time. Definitely read this!
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I'm re-reading the first two books of the trilogy (more than 20 years after the first run through) to finally get to book 3, which hadn't been published at the time. Based on my really old memories, I rated them both five stars when I entered them into my Goodreads catalogue. After the second read, I'm happy to say I still think this installment deserves its five stars.

Manchester includes more than enough footnotes to demonstrate that he's fulfilled his academic obligations of writing a serious
This second volume wasn't quite as entertaining as the first, no boarding school adventures or prison escapes. A very large portion of this book was Winston Churchill repeatedly telling everyone Voldemort was back, and the Ministry of Magic being in denial and smearing his good name. Which was very frustrating to read with hindsight, but at the same time it is easy to imagine that after the horrors of WWI, with 100's of thousands of dead, in muddy trenches where neither army gains a foot of terr ...more
Keenan Johnston
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Certainly, it is the work Tuesday through Thursday which enables you to win a football game on Saturday. I shouldn't have been so naïve to think that I could achieve the same level of enjoyment out of Volume II without having slugged through Volume I.

Volume II is based on the years 1932 - 1940 as Hitler rises to power and preparations are made for World War II. Churchill is effectively in exile from Parliament, but is the only Brit who understands Hitler and writes / speaks on the dangers of Ger
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Manchester continues the telling of Churchill's, and picks up in 1932, as Churchill is out of the cabinet and exiled to the back bench. Here Churchill the outsider, takes on the mantle and exposes Hitler and the Nazis for what they were, much to the chagrin of the appeasing government in power at that time in England. We have McDonald, all but in effective and scared of his own shadow, Baldwin who couldn't be bothered with mainland Europe (one of most sneakiest of politicians who stabbed Churchi ...more
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best overviews of the run up to WWII. Amazing book about Churchill.
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought of some alternative subtitles after reading this book. "Appeasement in our Time." "With Leaders like this, you don't need Enemies." "When war winners become losers."

I'm not trying to trivialize this modern masterpiece. It's just that, the more one reads of the foolhardy actions taken by the great European democracies after World War I regarding their future survival, the more one feels a sense of unease over the incompetence and lies which allowed a threat to world peace to gain a foo
Carol Bakker
This volume covers the quietest period of Churchill's life. He is on the outside: out of Parliament, out of favor, out of work, out of funds. But he had inside information on German activity, in what to me is one of the strangest footnotes of history.

Church's curiosity and forethought prompted a request in the 1920's of the PM of state secrets concerning Germany's rebuilding. This was granted and never rescinded. New British governments were unaware of Winston's access, but he kept a pulse on e
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This is the type of book that goes on forever, and you wish it were longer. (Fortunately, the series has two other equally-long books.) It's just a wonderfully-rendered, magisterial look at Winston Churchill and the events of the 1930s: Churchill was remarkably accurate about... well, just about everything pertaining to Nazism, after a career of very often getting things wrong. I feel like I need to read a Neville Chamberlain apologetic after this, because Chamberlain comes out of this with the ...more
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Volume 3? 6 61 Dec 02, 2015 09:40AM  

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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.

Other books in the series

The Last Lion (3 books)
  • The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932
  • The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 (The Last Lion, #3)

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