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Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  182 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The imperial aspect of Churchill's career tends to be airbrushed out, while the battles against Nazism are heavily foregrounded.

A charmer and a bully, Winston Churchill was driven by a belief that the English were a superior race, whose goals went beyond individual interests to offer an enduring good to the entire world. No better example exists than Churchill's resolve to
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published March 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a biography of Winston Churchill, but rather an in depth analysis of his relationship to, and with, the British Empire. What it meant to him, how he related to it, defended it and believed in it. As a Victorian schoolchild, there is much on the influence of his father and his education - both at Harrow and Sandhurst. Although Churchill was to say that his time at Harrow was deeply unhappy, it is also obvious that he believed in the ethos of the major public schools and considered the ...more
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, group
This book is 'proper' history: well researched, well argued and discussed and told in a logical, chronological, comprehensive way. It is also a fascinating, detailed portrait of a man we all know something about (or thought we did). Churchill's views about the Empire and its peoples were finely nuanced and not always consistent. Those he expressed privately or in his books were sometimes at odds with those he expressed as a member of the government. He was certainly not the dogmatic jingoist som ...more
Shawn Deal
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A very good, very illuminating work on Winston Churchill.
Caidyn (BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review can also be found on BW Book Reviews.

I'm sure that if I had to ask most people for the name of a British PM, Churchill would be one of the names that came up. He's famous for many things. His books, his speeches, his leadership during WWII and the bombings in England, The Crown, his very forceful personality. One thing that never came to my mind was his imperialistic point of view. Sure, I realized he had it, like most British men in that time period, but it never stuck out as someth
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone has been waiting for this book. Sadly, it isn't me. I was interested in this particular book because it promised to look at areas of Churchill's life that have not been thoroughly studied. I had read a book on Churchill and FDR that had surprised me because Churchill always seemed to have his own agenda. He wanted FDR to run the war so that the British Empire would be preserved. In other words,their partnership wasn't quite as magical as we are led to believe. Naturally, I expected this ...more
Bob Mobley
Feb 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Richard Toye's inciteful, interesting and unique look at Winston Churchill's career makes for fascinating reading. Toye provides the first indepth and comprehensive examination and analysis of Churchill's relationship with the whole question of "Empire." Reading this fine biography, you will immediately be intrigued by the number of cultural and ethical conflicts that ran throughout Winston Churchill's career as a statesman. I think this is the first book I have read that examines Churchill's ow ...more
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book examined Churchill's relationship to the British Empire over the course of his career. Was he for holding on to empire until the end or was he pragmatic? Was he progressive or was he racist? Did he support decolonization or not? Did he become more conservative or more liberal over time?

The author thoroughly reviews the historical and documentary record and concludes that Churchill was a complex individual who presented multiple faces to multiple situations. He made racist statements bu
The three stars might be more reflective of how well I read (listened to) this rather than a reflection of the book itself. A lot of it was over my head because I know almost nothing about Churchill or the history of the British Empire. Many details just kind of floated there and I had no real way of grasping them and evaluating them critically. However, I did gain a deeper appreciation of just how vast the Empire was and found myself fascinated as I became aware of events that were unfolding mo ...more
Beth (bibliobeth)
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: byt
I have really mixed opinions on this book. Some parts were very interesting and I felt like I learnt a lot about Churchill - his attitudes to race, his upbringing, his career post World War II, his comments against Gandhi (!) but I found some parts a bit dry and laborious. Probably a great read for those interested in politics.

Please see my full review at
Jan 26, 2015 marked it as wish-list
Recommended to Bettie by: FutureLearn
Shelves: skoolzy-stuff
Toye is the lead educator on 'Empire' from Exeter University
Bill Christman
It was ok. It could have less to do with Churchill’s career outside of Africa which is considerable. For someone new to Churchill I can understand having that in the book.

Where I really appreciated it was the book did approach Churchill’s views in the way I see Churchill, nuanced. He was clearly a
Man of his times and held the racial attitudes as such but he also seemed to instinctually understand that progress can com. His second premiership is more fascinating in regards to the book’s theme. C
Jane Harris
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
learned a lot - interesting read
Noel F
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good overview of the history of the British Empire within the context of Churchill's role. Ideal of you're unfamiliar with the empires history.
James Williams
Nov 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Like most Americans (I would think), I never knew much about Winston Churchill. I knew he kept Europe from falling to Germany before America finally decided to get involved. I knew the speech from after the Battle of Dunkirk. And I've seen pictures of him with his fingers forming a V.

That was really about it. But I knew he was an important figure in modern history. And his life is on the long list of things I really needed to learn more about before I can really consider myself "educated".

Robert J. Sullivan
Toye's history focuses on Winston Churchill's acts, writing, speeches, and attitudes toward the British Empire and the widely varied people it encompassed. The author assumes the reader is reasonably familiar with the history and issues that presented themselves to the British from the late 19th century through the 1950's. Without that background, it would be easy for a reader to get lost.

Teasing out Churchill's core beliefs is a tricky task. There are contradictions, differences between public
This new book on Churchill pulls together all the evidence about his attitudes about empire, race, and political liberty, producing a highly complex picture. On the one hand, Churchill was a virulent racist who believed to the end of his life that Indians and Africans were incapable of self-government, and who derided Gandhi in terms as full of opprobrium as those he used to denigrate Hitler. On the other hand, he had a sincere attachment to political liberty and liberal institutions that motiva ...more
Ella Teplitsky
Oct 02, 2015 rated it liked it
I was surprised at the way the book portrays Churchill. Most books about him highlight his success. This book covers it all- the good, bad and the ugly. I enjoyed reading about a different view of Churchill. However, I disagree with some of the authors' analysis and views. Many of Churchill's policies and ideas are described in a misleading way. His imperial ideas, his dislike of foreign cultures and his behavior would be better understood if these were given a stronger background, like depictin ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A good overview of the variety of dealings Sir Winston Churchill had with the vast British Empire from its heyday during the Victorian period when he was a young, ambitious man right through to the Cold War and decolonization which dominated his second term as Prime Minister of the ?United Kingdom until his retirement in 1955. The book is free of bias but is largely a recount of facts; some more context, analysis and discussion would have been useful in allowing the reader to make a judgement as ...more
Tom Mueller
Aug 16, 2010 marked it as to-read
Raises the question of Churchill's record of being pro-humanitarian, while apparently being quite racist when it came to Black Africans. Churchill is attributed with quotes such as: "the Ayran stock is bound to triumph" and "I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes" among others. President Obama's grandfather was one of Churchill's targets, having been sent to "Britain's gulag".
Jim Gallen
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book traces Winston Churchill's involvement with the British Empire from his days as a soldier in India, a reporter on the Boer War, his cabinet posts before and during World War I, his prime ministership during World War II and his role in opposition and in government in the disolution of the Empire after the War. A well written book, it holds the reasder's interest to the end. It is a must for any fan of Churchill or British history one desiring a deep understanding of the World Wars.
Nicole Marble
Oct 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a detailed look at Churchills attitude toward British colonies - he was for them - and those colonized - he thought them too 'uncivilized' to rule themselves, unless they were white skinned, of course.
There is a LOT of detail here, so be prepared!
Underlying the authors story is the process of a parlimentery system which I found equally interesting.
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Having a really hard time enjoying this one. It should be such interesting material and it is turning into the worst biography I have read. And it is making me not like Churchill, he's portrayed as a little s**t! Losing respect for a great wartime leader based on his early career?....Strange bio, I'm tellin ya.

So glad I am finished. Was not an enjoyable read and didn't really learn too much.
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
2 strokes, rule seas and can’t flush sewers, TE Lawrence input, against appeasement to Germany, chief threat from Europe, empire last as long as will of people, one of few right about Hitler, Gandhi lay down arms, got to have power and keenly not use it, criticized for British colonization and for self-determination no win.

A great dissection of the political atmosphere surrounding the influence of Winston Churchill on the British Empire. This book is heavily themed on the dynamics of the British Empire and is written from a neutral perspective advocating both sides of an argument concerning the Influence of Churchill on the Empire and vice versa.
Oct 29, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read it for History class. It was a rough read, very dull, and it caused me to lose a lot of respect for Winston Churchill. At the same time, however, Churchill's actions weren't presented with a bias. Facts were given and it was left to the reader to pass judgements.
I liked this book overall but a review of the conflicts and British history of the time would have helped me follow the book better. This book assumes that you know much about British colonial history of Churchill's time.

I learned quite a bit and recommend this book.
John Stieven
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After visiting the Churchill Museum at Westminster College in Fulton, MO I wanted to learn more about the man who played such a pivotal role in WW II.

Book OK -- good overview of his life yet was expecting more in-depth about the 'war years'.
Assigned review for AudioFile magazine
Nov 03, 2010 marked it as to-read
Reviewed in the Viewspaper part of The Independent, London, 28 October 2010.
Jenny M
Nov 30, 2010 rated it liked it
To sum up, Winston Churchill:
Right on the Nazis;
Wrong on India, Ireland, Kenya, and everything else.
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“Churchill, Twain said, ‘knew all about war and nothing about peace’. Twain added that he himself disapproved of the war in South Africa, ‘and he thought England sinned when she interfered with the Boers, as the United States is sinning in meddling in the affairs of the Filipinos. England and America were kin in almost everything; now they are kin in sin.” 1 likes
“the early worm is likely to get caught.” 0 likes
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