Monday, January 14, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jan. 14, 2008

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

In 1906 Churchill's two-volume biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was published in both Britain and America to mostly favorable reviews.

In America one of those who read and commented on the biography was President Theodore Roosevelt.

In Churchill and America (Free Press, 2005), Winston's official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert says Roosevelt saw some merit in the work but cared not at all for either Churchill. Gilbert quotes Roosevelt:

"I have been over Winston Churchill's life of his father," President Theodore Roosevelt wrote a friend. "I dislike the father and I dislike the son so I may be prejudiced."

TR said both the biographer and the subject had "real farsightedness." But they both possessed "such levity, lack of sobriety, lack of permanent principle, and an inordinate thirst for that cheap form of admiration which is given to notoriety, as to make them poor public servants." (p.50)
Gilbert then observers: "TR was closer to the mark with Randolph than with Winston."

I agree.

Part of what makes Winston Churchill such an interesting and admirable person is that he wished for public recognition and esteem as means of helping him secure government offices; and yet was willing throughout his political career to go against public opinion and endure "the wilderness" when he believed an important principle or his country's welfare was at stake.

There have been very few like him.