LITERATURE

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965

. November 2012. 1,232p. 978-0-31654-770-3. 40.
COPY ISBN
This is the final volume of Manchester’s magisterial Churchill biography begun more than 30 years ago and producing its first two volumes in 1983 and 1988, after which Manchester moved ahead with this volume. However, with the decline of his health, he was unable to continue writing and asked Reid (former features writer, Cox Newspapers) to collaborate with him. Manchester died in 2004 and Reid took over, using Manchester’s vast collection of notes, interviews, and other sources to complete this massive work. Manchester’s voice permeates the text and the narrative is true to his style. Churchill is revealed, warts and all, as a complex man, given to temper tantrums and moments of brilliance as he led Britain and its empire to victory in World War II. The great majority of this volume is devoted to the war, which most will agree encompassed Churchill’s finest hours.
VERDICT This is a big book but reads easily, filled with anecdotes from the principals. Although not a practiced historian, Reid learned well from Manchester, and the finished book is a worthy conclusion to what must be considered one of the most thorough treatments of Churchill so far produced. An essential conclusion to Manchester’s magnum opus.

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