• Churchill

  • By: Roy Jenkins
  • Narrated by: Robert Whitfield
  • Length: 37 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-07-02
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.4 (317 ratings)

Summary

Winston Churchill is an icon of modern history, but even though he was at the forefront of the political scene for almost 60 years, he might be remembered only as a minor player in the drama of British government had it not been for World War II. In this magisterial book, Roy Jenkins' unparalleled command of the political history of Britain and his own high-level government experience combine in a narrative account of Churchill's astounding career that is unmatched in its shrewd insights, its unforgettable anecdotes, the clarity of its overarching themes, and the author's nuanced appreciation of his extraordinary subject. From a very young age, Churchill believed he was destined to play a great role in the life of his nation, and he determined to prepare himself. Jenkins shows in fascinating detail how Churchill educated himself for greatness, how he worked out his livelihood (writing) as well as his professional life (politics), how he situated himself at every major site or moment in British imperial and governmental life. His parliamentary career was like no other - with its changes of allegiance (from the Conservative to the Liberal and back to the Conservative Party), its troughs and humiliations, its triumphs and peaks - and for decades, especially the crisis years of the late 1930s and the terrifying 1940s, when at last it was clear how vital Churchill was to the very survival of Britain. He evaluates Churchill's other accomplishments, his writings, with equal authority.
Exceptional in its breadth of knowledge and distinguished by its stylish wit and penetrating intelligence, this is one of the finest political biographies of our time.
©2001 Roy Jenkins (P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks
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Critic reviews

"A first-class, well-sustained work of history and a masterpiece of biography." ( The Sunday Telegraph)
"This is far and away Churchill's best one-volume biography." (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Francis on 29-11-07

A biography worthy of Churchill

If anyone is wondering whether it is worthwhile to spend a day and a half of your life listening to this biography, I would answer resoundingly yes. Whatever your own political affiliations, Churchill remains a fascinating character and his biography is inextricably woven in with the history of the last century. Roy Jenkins is an excellent biographer: this is neither hagiography nor hatchet job.The narrative is clear and constantly interesting , the judgements on people and events are shrewd and judicious. In particular, as might be expected Jenkins is a masterly guide to the workings of the British political system. Robert Whitfield's reading is most competent: his Churchill imitation is only passable, but proves to be valuable as not the least pleasure of the book is the generous quotation of Churchill's own words from letters and speeches. No contemporary politician comes anywhere near his mastery of English. A measure of this biography's success is that it does not seem long or overdetailed despite its length. There are many biographies of Churchill -some even longer, others more concise -but this account of Jenkins impresses me as a fair-minded guide and a work worthy of its subject.

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22 of 22 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Francis on 29-11-07

A biography worthy of Churchill

If anyone is wondering whether it is worthwhile to spend a day and a half of your life listening to this biography, I would answer resoundingly yes. Whatever your own political affiliations, Churchill remains a fascinating character and his biography is inextricably woven in with the history of the last century. Roy Jenkins is an excellent biographer: this is neither hagiography nor hatchet job.The narrative is clear and constantly interesting , the judgements on people and events are shrewd and judicious. In particular, as might be expected Jenkins is a masterly guide to the workings of the British political system. Robert Whitfield's reading is most competent: his Churchill imitation is only passable, but proves to be valuable as not the least pleasure of the book is the generous quotation of Churchill's own words from letters and speeches. No contemporary politician comes anywhere near his mastery of English. A measure of this biography's success is that it does not seem long or overdetailed despite its length. There are many biographies of Churchill -some even longer, others more concise -but this account of Jenkins impresses me as a fair-minded guide and a work worthy of its subject.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By K. Ray on 15-12-02

Best of British Political Soap Opera

This is a LONG book (and thus great value for money). You get not only the portrait of Churchill as a confident, sometimes bungling, always charistmatic figure, but also Jenkins's insights into the British political scene. For instance, when he says that chancellors of the exchequer often expect to become prime minister, he making a wry comment on his own lost expectations. There is just enough analysis and just enough political gossip to make it all fun, and even to sustain suspense, given that we know how it is all going to turn out. The reader is great. He "does" Churchill just well enough to be believable, but not with such emphasis as to be annoying. I have listened to all 25 disks and when my Altzheimers does its job I'll start all over again. The ONLY negative is the time it took to download!

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54 of 55 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Arthur on 29-10-06

A Political Lifel

This is a gossipy, chatty, sometimes catty and not always favorable biography of Winston S. Churchill. Among other things, the author was a former MP and political insider holding various offices in government. His father, Arthur Jenkins was a parliamentary private secretary to Clement Attlee - the man who defeated Churchill immediately after WWII. Some of Churchill's most famous aphorisms were insulting to Clement Attlee (A modest man, who has much to be modest about) and one wonders how Roy Jenkins felt about that and if it had any influence on the book.

Regardless, the book presumes the reader is more acquainted with English history and the English system of government than is likely for most Americans. The book focuses almost entirely on the inner political workings of government during Churchill's (and Jenkin's) time. It's also marred by diversions about various political figures who appear only briefly and don't have much to do with Churchill. The reader in England may be familiar with these characters and be interested in what happened to them but the American reader will not. It's almost more of a memoir than a biography because the author often inserts himself especially in the years in which he served in Parliament with Churchill.

I would first recommend William Manchester for a more complete picture of Churchill, even though it's longer and, ironically, incomplete.

I will say the voice characterizations by Robert Whitfield are excellent. By a change in accent or tone he is able to indicate a change in speaker leaving no doubt who is being quoted. This was extremely helpful. In particular, he does a decent imitation of Churchill himself. Even 40 years after his death, Churchill's words and voice are so familiar that it would be disconcerting to hear them spoken any other way.

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16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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