Monday, January 28, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jan. 28, 2008

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

One of the best of the one volume studies of Churchill's life is Lord Jenkins', Churchill: A Biography, published in 2002. Historian John G. Plumpton began his review of Jenkins' biography with:

"There are times," wrote the great Cambridge scholar, Sir Geoffrey Elton, "when I incline to judge all historians by their opinion of Winston Churchill - whether they can see that no matter how much better the details, often damaging, of man and career become known, he still remains, quite simply, a great man."

Sir Geoffrey would have likely judged the new Churchill biography by Roy Jenkins favourably. The octogenarian Jenkins, a biographer of Attlee, Asquith, Baldwin and Gladstone, among others, and a political colleague of Labour leaders since World War II, concludes with a startling admission: "When I started writing this book I thought that Gladstone was, by a narrow margin, the greater man...I now put Churchill, with all his idiosyncrasies, his indulgences, his occasional childishness, but also his genius, his tenacity and his persistent ability, right or wrong, successful or unsuccessful, to be larger than life, as the greatest human being ever to occupy 10 Downing Street."
Plumpton's entire review is here. (Scroll down)

Jenkins's biography is in print and available at many book stores, on the net, and in most public libraries.