Churchill's Shadow: An Astonishing Life and a Dangerous Legacy (Hardback)Geoffrey Wheatcroft (author)
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Clear-sighted and exceptionally entertaining, Wheatcroft’s refreshing biography of Winston Churchill focuses equally on his achievements and his failings, examining how the former Prime Minister’s legacy, his views on race and empire and belief in British exceptionalism, have shaped the nation to this day.
In A.J.P. Taylor's words, Churchill was 'the saviour of his country' when he became prime minister in 1940. Yet he was also a deeply flawed character, whose personal ambition would cloud his political judgement - and as a result he was often plain wrong. While Churchill's Shadow gives due credit to the achievements, it also reveals some spectacular failures; indeed, it appears that for every Finest Hour there were many more Gallipolis.
But this book goes beyond the reappraisal of a life and a career: it reveals that Churchill has cast a complex shadow over post-war British history and contemporary politics - from the 'Churchillian stance' of Tony Blair taking the country to war in Iraq to the delusion of a special relationship with the United States to the fateful belief in British exceptionalism: that the nation can once again stand alone in Europe.
Geoffrey Wheatcroft takes a radically different approach to other biographies and studies of Churchill, zooming in on crucial moments in his life that help us understand the man in his many contradictions. Churchill's Shadow both tells the story of his extraordinary life and the equally fascinating one of his legacy, focusing on how Churchill was viewed by contemporaries and those who came after.
As we struggle to work out who we are as a nation, how our complex legacies of war and empire shape our past and our present, we do that in the long shadow of Churchill. He set about writing his own myth during his lifetime and it is a myth - with all the delusions and hangovers myths bring - in whose grip we have been living in ever since.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 640
Weight: 1162 g
Dimensions: 242 x 162 x 43 mm
'Stimulating, erudite and above all entertaining, Churchill's Shadow refreshes the soul like a good stiff drink at the end of a long hard day. For any reader tired of the seemingly endless round of Churchill-worship of the last few years, Geoffrey Wheatcroft provides a lively corrective' - Robert Harris
'Provocative, clear-sighted, richly textured and wonderfully readable, this is the indispensable biography of Churchill for the post-Brexit 2020s: of unmissable and sometimes uncomfortable relevance to both British exceptionalists and those who fail to understand the seductive allure of that exceptionalism' - David Kynaston
'Hagiographers beware; Wheatcroft has skewered the cult of Churchill hero worship. This book reminds us that while Churchill was Britain's saviour in 1940, his views on race and empire, and his military debacles from the Dardanelles to Dieppe, make it unwise to revere him like a saint' - Samir Puri, author of The Great Imperial Hangover
'A clear-eyed, incisive and superbly balanced account of Churchill, the man and the myth. Wheatcroft shows how a deeply flawed character, with outdated views on empire and race even by the standards of his own time but a 'Rossini of rhetoric', caught a wave of history in 1940 and became the darling of the British and American Right. Much to think about in the twenty-first century' - Robert Gildea, author of Empires of the Mind
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