The subject of numerous biographies and history books, Winston Churchill has been repeatedly voted as one of the greatest of Englishmen. Even today, Boris Johnson in his failing attempts to be magisterial, has adopted many of his hero's mannerism! And, as Tariq Ali agrees, Churchill was undoubtedly right in 1940-41 to refuse to capitulate to fascism. However, he was also one of the staunchest defenders of empire and of Britain's imperial doctrine.
In this coruscating biography, Tariq Ali challenges Churchill's vaulted record. Throughout his long career as journalist, adventurer, MP, military leader, statesman, and historian, nationalist self belief influenced Churchill's every step, with catastrophic effects. As a young man he rode into battle in South Africa, Sudan and India in order to maintain the Imperial order. As a minister during the first World War, he was responsible for a series of calamitous errors that cost thousands of lives. His attempt to crush the Irish nationalists left scars that have not yet healed. Despite his record as a defender of his homeland during the Second World War, he was willing to sacrifice more distant domains. Singapore fell due to his hubris. Over 3 Millions Bengalis starved in 1943 as a consequence of his policies. As a peace time leader, even as the Empire was starting to crumble, Churchill never questioned his imperial philosophy as he became one of the architects of the postwar world we live in today.
Publisher: Verso Books
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 346 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm
In Ali's telling, which draws on more honest existing historical scholarship than most popular biographies of Churchill, the two-times prime minister emerges not so much as deeply racist - some of his contemporaries remarked on it in shock - as profoundly authoritarian, with a soft spot for fascist strongmen, and a hostility to working-class assertion.
For Tariq Ali, Churchill debunking, like Churchill worship, is a political act.
Ali portrays Churchill as cruel, incompetent and blinded by prejudice
A Marxist insult to history.
A powerful corrective...shining a light on the nasty parts of the Churchill story that his supporters conveniently ignore. This book is an unreserved polemic against the man usually celebrated for standing up to Hitler
An essential antidote to the Churchill myth...This book could not be more timely.
A counter to popular mythology; an effort to peel back the curtain of propaganda and locate truth ... a worthy contribution in a crowded field
[Ali] seeks not so much to flush WC down the toilet of history, but to reassign him to his rightful place as one of history's most over-rated figures ... [a] highly readable book
The important thing about Ali's book, even after a thousand on the same subject, is that it is primarily interested in Churchill's years in service to British imperialism, and only secondarily interested in World War II, inverting the usual balance...a vital corrective.
Ali's book is a helpful corrective to the cult of Churchill that has come to dominate British culture. His study makes one thing clear: there is ultimately no path to a socialist and internationalist future without challenging this legacy.
Ali's examination remains an important corrective to the hagiographic praise that Churchill receives to this day.
Ali has produced a searing critique full of little known detail, of a long and powerful British life which did untold damage at home and abroad.