Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Churchill Series - July 30, 2008

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

If you could ask Churchill one question, what would it be?

Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, was asked that question a few years ago during an interview conducted by Canadian Broadcasting Company news anchor Peter Mansbridge.

Mansbridge prefaced his question by reminding CBC viewers that Gilbert’s written not only a multi-volume life of Churchill, but more than a dozen other Churchill books. What’s more, Mansbridge said, it’s been estimated the total of Churchill documents Gilbert’s read weigh 15 tons.

So what question would Gilbert ask Churchill?

”It would be a question he asked [in his lifetime] and I'd like to know what his answer would be. He asked a friend, ‘Do you think I spent too much energy on the German question and not enough on the Soviet question toward the end of the war?’ “
I don’t know anything about Mansbridge other than what I learned from reading a post by Canadian blogger Mike Campbell who quoted from Mansbridge's interview but we can be grateful Mansbridge followed Gilbert’s answer with the question that was on most viewers minds: “What do you think [Churchill’s] answer would be?”

Gilbert responded:
”I'd like to feel that it would be 'No,' that he did his best but he was a very self-critical person so he probably feels that he did fail in that regard.”
What Gilbert said is, we know, speculative, but it’s very informed speculation by the person now alive who “knows” Churchill best.

Now some work for all of you: If today you could ask Churchill one question, what would it be; and what do you think his answer would be?


Anonymous said...

My question would be as follows: Mr Churchill, do you think that the abdication of Edward VIII not only saved the institution of the monarchy in Britain but also, with the ascension of the stalwart George VI and his wife Elizabeth, provided the public face to the stalwart speeches you gave during the Blitz?

While I am not sure of the answer to the first half of the question, I am certain that he would maintain that the example of the King and Queen sticking it out in Buckingham palace with the two princesses served as a piece of public assurance that the British people were made of the stiff upper lip that would enable them to defeat Hitler and his allies.