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Winston's War: Churchill, 1940-1945

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,138 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
Winston’s War is a vivid and incisive portrait of Winston Churchill during wartime. Here are the glories and triumphs, the contradictions and blunders of the man who, through sheer force of will, kept Britain fighting in 1940. But as the tide of the war turned, historian Max Hastings shows how Churchill was often disappointed by the failure of the British Army to match his ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Vintage (first published 2009)
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Lauren Albert
Oct 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-british
The book lead me to the conclusion that while a war is never won by a single man, no matter how great, many a war must surely have been lost for lack of him. Winston Churchill was not a perfect man. He would not have been such a great man if he had been for isn't it more admirable to do great things despite your weaknesses? Perfection does not serve as inspiration. He did some terrible things. He did some amazing things. Through it all he was single human being facing sometimes terrible odds and ...more
Chin Joo
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2, history, biography
This is the first book I have read about Sir Winston Churchill and I'm glad to have picked one written by Sir Max Hastings, another first. Sir Hastings is British, and many would expect him to therefore have a great command of the language, but not all British can write like him. His arsenal of vocabulary and elements of the language is impeccable. He was able to summon the right words and phrase them in ways that express precisely what he was trying to convey. It was not only on the one or two ...more
”If the governance of nations in peace is best conducted by reasonable men, in war there is powerful argument for leadership by those sometimes willing to adopt courses beyond the boundaries of reason…” - Max Hastings on Winston Churchill’s wartime leadership.

Max Hasting’s magisterial biography of Churchill during the Second World War almost rises to Churchillian standards of eloquence but maintains a clear-eyed focus, bereft of romanticism and remaining bracingly objective. Churchill is so m
Aug 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The description of this book contains not a shred of hyperbole. It is a masterpiece of history.

What makes Hastings's approach different is his reluctance to use Churchill's own words, despite his own status as a fairly eminent historian and chronicler of the time. Churchill was finely attuned to the call of history and the mystic chords of memory, which his words were carefully attuned to pluck for posterity.

Instead, Hastings, cognizant of Churchill's selective editing and memory, sketches the m
Peter Ellwood
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An entirely marvellous piece of work. Pretty much unique amongst the various books I have jotted down comments on: if I could award six stars anywhere, then this might well be the recipient. A remarkable combination of lucid and sympathetic writing, and a subject matter that electrifies.

I’ve never especially idolised Winston Churchill. A good man at the right time and so on, but I didn’t exactly turn to this book to reinforce pre-existing adoration.

All the same, the man that emerges from these
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He empezado tres veces esta reseña y tres veces la he borrado. He leído docenas de libros sobre la IIGM, entre ellos los Diarios de Churchill, pero ninguno había conseguido levantar la capa de barniz heroico que decoraba la victoria de los Aliados. Max Hastings lo ha logrado: sin destruir la reputación de un hombre complejo ha ido descubriendo las tensiones entre sus colaboradores y sus renuentes aliados. Las zancadillas de los americanos para asegurarse una posición de poder sobre los británico ...more
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in British history, Churchill, WWII
So the honest truth is that I didn't read all of this book. My son and I were listening to an audio book, but weren't able to finish it. We were in the midst of 1941 before Pearl Harbor. It was extremely interesting to see the was in detail from Churchill's perspective, especially after the recent movies: The Darkest Hour and Dunkirk. What a difficult position Churchill and what bravado to keep up morale and the determination of the English people to fight, all the while knowing that it would ju ...more
"What, another Churchill book?" This was my wife's comment when she saw me reading this book. I've read Churchill's own account of World War 2 as well as several other biographies. So, beyond my admiration for Churchill, what possible reason was there to pick up this book?

What Hastings does is focus particularly on Churchill's leadership of England from his ascent to Prime Minister in 1940 during England's darkest days, to his ignominious departure from office in July of 1945, shortly after Alli
Jim Coughenour
I was about halfway through Max Hastings' Retribution when I picked up his new book on Churchill, and I pretty much read it straight through. This is an solid, admiring but hardly uncritical history of Churchill's legendary leadership of Britain through the dark years of World War II. Up to now my basic understanding of Churchill during the war has been filtered through several fine books by John Lukacs. Hastings reviews the same events and actions in much wider scope, and doesn't draw back from ...more
Keith Trullinger
Excellent book. A clear-eyed, objective look at one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This author has been on somewhat of tear as of late, this his third World War II book published in the last seven years, (Armageddon and Retribution the other two), and a fourth volume just out. Winston's War also adds to the recent spate of books - Carlo D'Este's Warlord; Andrew Robert's Hitler and Churchill and Masters and Commanders, and Berthon and Potts', Warlords - "analyzing" Churchill's leadership role and his success/failure as Great Britain's Commander in Chief. Hastings' new book diff ...more
Alan Gerstle
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not to be confused with the novel of the same name (or confuse them if you like: it's your choice now that I've mentioned there is novel with the same title), Winston's War is a fine example of the historical non-fiction book that focuses on one actor as the locus of the action while at the same time, providing enough context of the complex interstices of politics, event, character, personality, social history, cultural history --this is getting to remind me of the old saw, 'There's only one sub ...more
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off... this is a tome, nearly 500 pages, but Hastings helps us along with his fluid prose. This is a “warts ’n all” biography of Churchill that confines itself to the period of his wartime premiership. It’s also the Churchill who is seen by those men and women who worked closely with him during the war, as opposed to those who only “knew” him through his morale boosting oratory. Hastings has obviously done a lot of digging into memoirs and diaries as well as official documents to achieve t ...more
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a detailed bio of Churchill as war leader in WWII. It is well written and the author is very knowledgeable and a great specialist on WWII. The book looks at the really hard parts of Churchill's job - what made his accomplishment so great. It its material, it covers lots of familiar ground and provides few startling "aha" moments. But it does deliver on a number of important points. First, it details the opposition, both political and military, that Churchill had to surmount to keep Brita ...more
Karl Rove
This is a powerful, clear-eyed exposition of Churchill’s wartime leader. He details the great man’s strengths (including his indomitable will) and his weaknesses (his readiness to interfere with his generals in pursuit of wild schemes of dubious value) and finds value in both.

For example, Churchill’s schemes to aid Greece threatened the British hold on the Middle East and sent thousands of the ill equipped, poorly trained, and too often badly led British troops to their deaths or POW camps. But
John Gribbin
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the best insight I have seen into Winston Churchill as war leader, and through him into Britain's involvement in World War Two, as it declined from global superpower to America's poodle. The very factors that made Churchill the only person who could have made Britain keep up the fight after 1940 -- his anachronistic, Victorian-era jingoism and love of Empire -- made him essentially redundant by 1945, rightly viewed with suspicion by Roosevelt and only kept from disastrous strategic inter ...more
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book describes the life and politics of Winston Churchill during the Second World War. It is a superb book and gave some new insights in the strengths and errors of Winston. It does not spare Winston; especially in the chapter about operation Accolade in the Egean see. But in the end the author comes to the conclusion that Winston- with all his faults - was the best man to lead England through the war.

It gave me some new insights about the relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill and th
May 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not a typical war history, nor a biography. If you are highly interested in an objective look at Winston Churchill, his strengths and weaknesses, you will find it fascinating. I can't imagine how the author pulled all this information together in a coherent study of this unique and complex man and the political issues behind World War II. I found it to be a very good book, but it won't please everyone. I'm sure it's not intended to.
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Max Hastings says that ‘History must take Churchill as a whole…..rather than employ a smokeshave to strip away the blemishes crested by his lunges into excess and folly’. That has certainly been the author’s approach in this book. Here is an unsentimental, brutally honest account, not only of Churchill, but of Britain’s overall war effort. Churchill’s supreme achievement was to rally the British nation, and create the ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ during their darkest hour when under attack from the Luftwaff ...more
In many instances, the book read as though the author takes a hard British bias. He appears balanced in his assessment of Churchill himself, but i found him to be biased regarding the war itself.

He cites and even praises Liddle Hart (known widely to have coerced Nazi leaders to praise his own military strategy prowess). Not to say Liddle Hart should be omitted, just however qualified and caveated.

I also had some questions about his facts. He claims in chapter 17 that "just three thousand Ameri
Ivor Sheehan
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Churchill warts and all.

Enjoyed this book from start to finish. It seems to be well researched and strikes a ba!ance between praise and criticism. Having been born in the closing years of the war, Churchill was talked about until the day he died with admiration and reverence in our house. This book kicks over the ashes and looks at the human with all his faults that wasn't apparent or discussed then. It revealed to me for the first time how desperate the early war years were and how he steered a
May 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The consensus of historians is that the Nazis were defeated years before 1945. After the failure of Barbarossa in 1941, and the subsequent German losses in the Soviet Union, it became clear Germany were losing the war. This book seems to focus on the false premise that winning the war depended on Roosevelt's involvement. That it was Winston Churchill's primary objective to push the US into the war. I've read far more accurate and intriguing books about Churchill. This was a disappointment.
David P
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent overview of Churchill's finest (and not so fine) hours, which charts him from saviour of the nation in 1940 to the marginalised character he was by 1945.

Only on a few occasions does Hastings fall into the trap of eulogising him, he's mostly fair and realistic about his strengths and flaws, while placing into his time.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good read on Winston Churchill as he leader of the UK during WWII. Contrary to popular belief he wasn't a savior of the west but a person trying to save the British Empire.

This book does go into great detail on the operations and plans he oversaw that were not successful and the sellout of Eastern Europe in exchange for Greece and western Europe.

Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look inside the man who basically saved Britain during the Battle of Britain. We learn some not so flattering facts about him, but it helps to shape his personality on the whole, instead of a superhero on a pedestal. A truly fascinating biography.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"England kommer slåss till sista fransman."
Luís Bermer
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: libros-rese-ados
LA GUERRA DE CHURCHILL Aquí mi reseña completa.
Christopher Potter
20% interesting read on Churchill's role in the war. 80% clutter.
So many quotable passages, but thus far this one at a meeting debating whether to entertain peace negotiations stands out:

"If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground."
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Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings, FRSL, FRHistS is a British journalist, editor, historian and author. His parents were Macdonald Hastings, a journalist and war correspondent, and Anne Scott-James, sometime editor of Harper's Bazaar.

Hastings was educated at Charterhouse School and University College, Oxford, which he left after a year.After leaving Oxford University, Max Hastings became a foreign c
More about Max Hastings

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