"Winston Churchill led the life that many men would love to live. He survived 50 gunfights and drank 20,000 bottles of champagne...and, of course, by resisting Hitler he saved Europe and perhaps the world." (Mark Riebling in Churchill's Finest Hour)
Was he "the greatest human being ever to occupy 10 Downing Street"? Or a man whose "brilliant but unsound judgement resulted in detrimental consequences for Britain and for the world"? Nearly 50 years after his death, debate still rages over Sir Winston Churchill's contribution to history. Indeed, now that wartime nostalgia has mostly washed away, in Britain in particular the views on Churchill are more divergent than ever.
On one point, though, the biographers and historians remain unanimous: Churchill led an astonishing life as a soldier, world statesman, historian, and Noble Prize Laureate. When he died at 90 in 1965, one of the most important figures in modern history had left the stage. From providing some of the 20th century's greatest soundbytes to successfully navigating Great Britain to victory in World War II against great odds, Churchill was at the forefront of global events for decades, becoming one of the most influential Britons in history. In 2002 he was named the Greatest Briton of All Time, and 40 years earlier he was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.
Churchill will forever be most associated with World War II, but his life was far more adventurous and complex than that, and these other aspects of the man are often overlooked and overshadowed.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors