Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Churchill Series – Oct. 17, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In 1951 Churchill, age 76, published The Hinge of Fate, the fourth volume of his WW II memoirs. Reviews were on the whole very favorable. Here’s part of what The Times Literary Supplement said:

"It is a breathtaking book. To say that Mr. Churchill is a romantic, as immortally young as the hero of Treasure Island, is not to lose sight of the massive common sense of his judgment at the grimmest moments or his superhuman resilience in facing the ugliest facts squarely and taking tremendous decisions. It is rather to point at one deep source of his strength."
Churchill’s romanticism as a deep source of his strength.

That’s a wise observation we should remember when we hear people today talk disparagingly of it.

How can they do that?

I think at least part of the answer has to do with this: Almost all those disparaging Churchill’s romanticism have no first-hand knowledge of Churchill’s leadership during one of the world’s darkest and most dangerous times. The TLS critic did.

You’ll find the TLS quote in this Churchill Center document.


Jim in San Diego said...

Churchill's six volume history of the Second World War is available in inexpensive paperback form.

It is, by itself, an education in how to conduct public policy, at the highest level, for the highest stakes. When all the marbles are on the line, so to speak.

It is unfair to categorize someone like Winston Churchill as a "romantic", or anything else. It is best said that he is an "original". Like no other.

In thirteen words, Winston fully described the foundations of a successful foreign policy:

In War: Resolution

In Defeat: Defiance

In Victory: Magnanimity

In Peace: Good Will

This is not romantic, or cynical, or any other word of which I am aware. It is the distillation of what works as foreign policy, from one deeply educated and experienced in the art.