Churchill Exhibition

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The Midland County Library located in Midland, Texas will host the exhibition Winston Churchill: A Legacy of Leadership from November 17, 2018 to January 16, 2019. The exhibition includes over 50 items and artifacts, including a draft of the Iron Curtain Speech, a top hat signed by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, and a painting by President George W. Bush. The exhibit is organized by the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri. The library web site is available here.

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Churchill Research

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An extended review of the article “British Attempts to Forge a Political Partnership with the Kremlin, 1942-3,” by Martin H. Folly (Journal of Contemporary History, 53:1, 2018) prepared by the writer of this blog has been published on the Churchill Project. The article is available here.

Churchill Bulletin

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The October issue (#124) of the Churchill Bulletin: The Newsletter of Winston Churchill has been released. It includes articles on the 2018 International Churchill Conference, the opening of “Churchill’s Shakespeare” exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and John Campbell’s review of Churchill: Walking with Destiny. The Churchill Collectables column is about a Parianware bust of Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty. The newsletter is available here.

Churchill Research

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Joao Carlos Espada (author of The Anglo-American Tradition of Liberty: A View from Europe and president of the Churchill Society of Portugal) has published “Karl Popper, Winston Churchill, and the Tradition of Liberty among the English-speaking Peoples” in Philosophy (93, 2018). The article considers Sir Karl Popper’s view that the English-speaking peoples possess “a deep love of liberty, combined with a deep sense of duty,” with Espada ranking Churchill as the best representative of the Anglo-American tradition of liberty under law. The journal’s website is here.

Book Review

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Churchill & Attlee: The Unlikely Allies Who Won the War by David Cohen seeks to examine the “forty-year-long relationship” between the two prime ministers. There is much on the psychology of Winston Churchill with Clement Attlee largely spared “posthumous diagnosis.” The book gets off to a rough start when the author writes in the first sentence of the prologue (p. xi) that Churchill’s only short story was written two years after the end of the Second World War, when, in fact, he wrote his first published short story, “Man Overboard,” in 1898. The author rather overstates the case when he compares the Churchill-Attlee partnership with the Mandela-de Klerk and Paisley-McGuinness respective political relationships. Whatever party political differences Attlee and Churchill had to set aside in 1940 in the face of Nazi Germany, they were insignificant in comparison to what had to be overcome in the case of South Africa and Northern Ireland. Further, in Chapter One the author claims that as prime minister, Churchill was “eager to be seen as successful, perhaps a hang-up from his childhood” and that this “desire may have been the motivation behind why, in 1942, he called for two votes of confidence in his administration” (p. 10). The votes of confidence more likely reflected the political difficulties the prime minister was facing after the disaster at Singapore in February 1942 and later the fall of Tobruk in June 1942 rather than his desire to be seen as successful. Readers seeking an understanding of Attlee as well as the Attlee-Churchill relationship would be better directed to John Bew’s Clement Attlee.

Book Review

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From Blenheim to Chartwell: The Untold Story of Churchill’s Houses and Gardens by Stefan Buczacki is a very entertaining and wonderfully illustrated volume on the residences Winston Churchill lived in, purchased, leased, or were loaned to him, including holiday homes and official residences. Churchill’s “property adventures” are a fascinating array of purchases, sales, house hunting, disputes with architects and builders, financial issues, occasional falling out with friends, and the recourse to legal advice. The book has a wealth of interesting detail, including the letting of his Bolton Street house whilst Churchill was travelling in East Africa to Robert Standish Sievier, “one of the most seriously infamous rogues of the day.” Especially prior to becoming rather more settled in the 1920s, Churchill and his wife Clementine were constantly worrying about buying or selling houses and maintained a “pattern of having either too many houses or none.”

Appropriately much space in the volume discusses Chartwell, Churchill’s beloved country home in Kent, which he purchased in 1922 and kept until his death in 1965. While Churchill treasured Chartwell, Clementine did not warm to the property until long after its purchase. Indeed it was bought by her husband without her knowledge. As Buczaki writes, the “purchase of Chartwell revealed Churchill at his most implacable, his most egotistic, his most deaf and blinkered to outside reason and influence.” Clementine only came to enjoy Chartwell once she and Churchill were more financially secure after the Second World War, but tellingly she left Chartwell soon after her husband’s death and rarely returned. The story of Chartwell becoming a National Trust property is related by Buczaki and a chapter on “Chartwell after Churchill” concludes the volume.

Buczacki, author of several volumes on gardening, has written an excellent book that would have only benefited from the inclusion of a map of London showing all of Churchill’s residences. It is the definitive word on the topic.

Churchill: Walking with Destiny

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Andrew Roberts, author of the new biography Churchill: Walking with Destiny, has recently written and broadcast a series “Churchill’s Passions” for BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week program. The series has five episodes which are 14 minutes in length. The episodes cover Churchill’s humor, emotions, friendships, father, and sense of destiny. The series is available here.

Roberts will also be discussing Churchill and his new book at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Chicago at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, November 14, 2018. Information on the event can be found here.

Book Review

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As Sir David Cannadine (Princeton University and author of numerous works) writes of Winston Churchill in the introduction to this very interesting volume “with the possible exception of Mr Gladstone, no British prime minister has inhabited so many varied and different hinterlands, or done so with such energy, vigour, brio, and elan.”One such hinterland was that of painting. Despite not taking up painting until 1915 when he was 40 years old, he painted hundreds of pieces in his life and achieved a degree of distinction in the field.

Accompanied by a 44-page introduction and 32 color plates of paintings by Churchill, Churchill: The Statesman as Artist consists of two parts: “Churchill on Art” and “On Churchill’s Art.” The first section reprints all of Churchill’s speeches and articles on art, including the delightful Painting as a Pastime and 11 lesser known essays. The second section reprints six essays on Churchill as an artist with an article by Eric Newton reviewing the aforementioned Painting as a Pastime, articles by John Rothenstein and Augustus John describing their personal painting experiences with Churchill, and a piece by Thomas Bodkin evaluating him as a painter.

Churchill Research

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On the night of June 23, 1953, Prime Minister Winston Churchill hosted a dinner for the visiting Italian prime minister at 10 Downing Street during which he suffered a stroke. Remarkably the prime minister presided over a two-hour meeting of the cabinet the following day with no one noticing anything amiss save Churchill was more quiet than usual. The effects of the stroke, however, became more evident in the ensuing days. Churchill’s stroke and recovery in the summer of 1953, which was not made public at the time, is studied in detail by John W. Scadding and J. Allister Vale in the article “Sir Winston Churchill’s acute stroke in June 1953” published online by the Journal of the Royal Society for Medicine (2018). The authors conclude that Churchill’s recovery from the stroke by mid-August was “impressive” and that in doing so “he confounded the more cautious and entirely appropriate prognoses of both Moran and Brain.” The website for the Journal of the Royal Society for Medicine is available here.

This article is seventh in a series by Scadding and Vale on the medical history of Winston Churchill. The series has made a large contribution to the Churchill bibliography and it should be hoped the authors continue their research with further articles.

Churchill Research

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Winston Churchill’s medical history between 1950-52 is examined by John W. Scadding and J. Allister Vale in their article “Sir Winston Churchill: Cerebrovascular Disease January 1950-March 1952” published online by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (2018). During this period Churchill was treated by Lord Moran and Dr. Russell Brain. The authors conclude that during this period Churchill had “two definite acute cerebrovascular episodes and reported intermittent symptoms indicative of cognitive deficit.” The website for the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine is available here.