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‘Churchill: Walking With Destiny’ Review: A Life at Full Pelt

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Outline/WSJ

Tunku Varadarajan

November 16, 2018

Two reasons to be grateful for this new life of Winston Churchill: first, it is unarguably the best single-volume biography of the man; second, as a result, no reasonable person will write a Churchill biography for years to come

Some of the best accounts of Churchill’s life were written by Churchill himself, setting his biographers some daunting competition. How do you write more eloquently than a man who wrote prose so fine it was deemed worthy (in 1953) of a Nobel Prize in literature?

Unlike the politicians of today, Churchill wrote his own words. Those words were patriotic, humane and fortifying, and they united his nation in times of ordeal. They were also linguistically impeccable, and frequently handsome, even when he was writing purely for money. Churchill’s language was the lifelong fruit of his having learned English grammar from a talented schoolmaster at Harrow. “Thus I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence,” he wrote in “My Early Life,” “which is a noble thing.” By the time of his death in 1965, at age 90, he had published 6.1 million words in 37 books—more than Shakespeare and Dickens put together. And that’s not counting his speeches, letters and memoranda.

By some accounts, 1,000 biographies exist already of the man who was voted the greatest Briton of all time in a poll 16 years ago. And yet, forcing his way into this teeming herd of Churchill biographers, is another one, Andrew Roberts, whose “Churchill: Walking With Destiny” weighs in at 1,100 pages and cannot be read (as this reviewer will testify) without the support of a table.

(Snip)

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‘Churchill: Walking With Destiny’

 

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What a coincidence I just happen to be watching this tonight

 

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