Churchill Bulletin

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The June issue of the Churchill Bulletin: The Newsletter of Winston Churchill has been released. It includes articles on the opening of a new exhibit, Charting Churchill: An Architectural Biography of Sir Winston Churchill, at the National Churchill Library and Center in Washington; a recent lecture by Jon Meacham on the relationship between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Churchill; the Churchill Quiz: Summer Edition; and Churchill Collectables: Chancellor of the Exchequer bust. The newsletter is available here.

Churchill in the News

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An article in Variety comments on the recent appearance of Winston Churchill as a character in several television and film productions. John Lithgow played Churchill in the Netflix series The Crown while Brian Cox played him in the recently released Churchill and Gary Oldman will portray Churchill in the Darkest Hour, which will be released later in the year. A review of Churchill from the National Post which comments on the film’s “insipid screenplay” is available here.

Finest Hour

The theme of the Spring 2017 issue of the Finest Hour: The Journal of Winston Churchill and His Times is “The Churchill Men” with articles on Leonard Jerome, Lord Randolph Churchill, J.E.C. Welldon, Jack Churchill, Randolph Churchill, and Winston Churchill (the grandson). Other articles include “Churchill’s Marlborough as the ‘Sum of Things” and “Lincoln and Churchill: Commanders in Chief.” The website of the Finest Hour is here.

Book Review

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Quotes, witticisms, and maxims uttered by Winston Churchill, as well as some falsely attributed to him, have been complied in several books over the years. The Smart Words and Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill from Skyhorse Publishing is a recent addition to the genre. A pocket sized effort, the book provides 250 quotes in 14 sections (Sage Advice; Churchill on Churchill; A Cutting Tongue) with the text supported by several illustrations. It is edited by Max Morris who previously prepared The Smart Words and Wicked Wit of Jane Austen as well as the forthcoming The Smart Words and Wicked Wit of William Shakespeare. While researchers seeking a comprehensive resource on the British prime minister’s quotes should consult Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collections of Quotations edited by Richard Langworth, The Smart Words and Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill is pleasantly presented and suitable for the interests of general readers.

This Day in Churchill History

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On the evening of June 2, 1938, Winston Churchill declared that “volcanic forces were moving in Europe” in a speech on the European situation at a meeting of the League of Nations Union in Birmingham. He said that “the idea that dictators could be appeased by kind words and minor concessions was doomed to disappointment.” The “dictator countries” were preparing night and day to advance their ambitions and that Britain and other countries were in great danger. Churchill observed that at the moment Britain was sheltered by the strength of the French army and the supremacy of the Royal Navy. In the air Britain was, however, falling farther and farther behind. Speaking on the Spanish Civil War, he said that the German and Italian interference in the conflict was shameful and in that light he found it “very difficult” to remain neutral.

This Day in Churchill History

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On the morning of May 29, 1914, the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill made a flight from the Central Flying School, Upavon to Portsmouth. He had been at the flying school for a couple of days undertaking practice flights as part of his flying lessons. Flying aboard a military biplane piloted by Major E.L. Gerrard, the flight covered the 60 miles to Portsmouth in about 40 minutes. While he had been expected in Portsmouth it was not generally known that he would arrive by air. The biplane flew into Portsmouth over Portsdown Hill and made one wide circle before landing on the drill field attached to the Royal Field Artillery barracks at Hilsea shortly after 11 o’clock. After alighting from the biplane Churchill went to the officers’ mess and afterwards went by motor car to the dockyard where the Admiralty yacht Enchantress was docked. That afternoon Churchill made a tour of the dockyard before returning to the yacht where he was joined by his brother Jack, his sister-in-law Goonie, and Archie Sinclair.

This Day in Churchill History

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On May 26, 1922 Winston Churchill, then Colonial Secretary in David Lloyd-George’s government, conferred with Irish leaders and his own cabinet colleagues in an attempt to resolve the latest crisis in the implementation of the Anglo-Irish treaty. At 11 o’clock that morning Arthur Griffith, President of Dail Eireann, arrived at the Colonial Office where he was met by Churchill. A little later Eamonn Duggan accompanied by Hugh Kennedy, KC and Kervin Higgins arrived to join the meeting that lasted until 2 o’clock. The Collins-De Valera electoral agreement signed days earlier was discussed with Churchill closely questioning the Irish leaders about the precise meaning of the bargain with the anti-treaty forces. Later that afternoon Churchill attended a meeting of the British signatories of the Irish Treaty, that included Lloyd George, Hamar Greenwood, Austen Chamberlain, and Laming Worthington-Evans, at 10 Downing Street. The meeting lasted an hour and a half. Thereafter Churchill and others present at the meeting adjourned to the Colonial Office for further discussion.

Churchill Bulletin

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The May issue of the Churchill Bulletin: The Newsletter of Winston Churchill has been released. It includes articles on Lady Williams of Elvel (one of Churchill’s last-surviving secretaries) speaking at the 2017 Churchill conference, the awarding of the Winston Churchill Leadership Medal to John C. Danforth, and Churchilliana: the Roosevelt and Churchill Royal Winton teapot. Also included are reviews of the new book Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom and the movie Churchill. The newsletter is available here.

 

Book Review

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As Richard Toye (University of Exeter), the editor of Winston Churchill: Politics, Strategy, and Statecraft, notes in the book’s introduction the “sheer length and variety of Churchill’s career make it hard to get to grips with its full complexity.” To contribute to a fuller understanding of Churchill the volume provides a collection of 14 brief essays on the important issues of his life and career written by many of the leading Churchill scholars.

After the introductory essay by Toye that provides a biographical overview of Churchill, the thematic chapters in the book are “Churchill: The Young Statesman, 1901-1914” by David Thackeray (University of Exeter), “Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty, 23 October 1911 – 24 May 1915” by Martin Thornton (University of Leeds), “Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1924–9) and the Return to the Gold Standard” by Peter Catterall (University of Westminster), “Churchill and Labour” by Chris Wrigley (University of Nottingham), “Churchill and the General Strike, 1926” by Peter Catterall (University of Westminster), “Churchill and the Conservative Party” by Stuart Ball (University of Leicester), “Churchill and Women” by Paul Addison (University of Edinburgh), “Churchill and Empire” by the editor, “Churchill and the Islamic World” by Warren Dockter (University of Cambridge), “Churchill and Airpower” by Richard Overy (University of Exeter), “Churchill as Strategist in World War Two” by Jeremy Black (University of Exeter), and “The Birth of the Anglo-American Special Relationship” by David Woolner (Roosevelt Institute). The volume concludes with “Churchill and Nuclear Weapons” and “Winston Churchill and the Cold War,” both by Kevin Ruane (Canterbury Christ Church University).

Several interesting points are made in the essays including Stuart Ball’s observation in his contribution that Churchill’s relationship with the Conservative party went through many phases from critic within the party to party leader and that “it is easy to focus too much on his periods of conflict with the established leadership and therefore get this out of proportion.” As Ball notes “during his forty-three-and-a-half years as a Conservative Member of Parliament, he was a rebel for a total of only eleven-and-a half years.” Likewise in his essay on the general strike, Peter Catterall writes that Churchill’s actual role in the strike itself has been exaggerated as opposed to his part in attempting to resolve the coal dispute that had led to the strike. Paul Addison drew the difficult assignment of writing on Churchill and women. Lady Soames at an event several years ago remarked that she did not believe her father was particularly good on women, while Addison in his essay observes that Churchill was neither a misogynist nor a feminist. After his retirement, however, Churchill had reached the point that he did support the admission of women to Churchill College, Cambridge on an equal basis as men.

With 14 essays Winston Churchill: Politics, Strategy, and Statecraft, of course, cannot be comprehensive, but the volume would have benefited by having separate chapters on Churchill and the Dardanelles, Churchill and appeasement, Churchill and his second premiership, and, perhaps, Churchill and Europe.

Winston Churchill: Politics, Strategy, and Statecraft nonetheless succeeds admirably in its stated goal of providing “a short, accessible and analytical introduction to the key themes in Churchill’s life.”

Churchill in the News

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A new permanent exhibition at the Churchill War Rooms will study Winston Churchill’s involvement in the Middle East. In the Guardian article on the exhibit Warren Dockter comments that Churchill’s involvement in the Middle East, starting when he became secretary of state for the colonies in 1921, has been “wildly misunderstood” compared with his time as prime minister but is now more important than ever. Opening this year the exhibit will include artifacts such as maps, photos, souvenirs, and letters as well as employ digital technology. The Guardian’s report on the exhibition is here.