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The Last Lion, Volume 2: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone 1932-1940by William Manchester
Synopses & Reviews
Alone is the second volume in William Manchester's projected three-volume biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion, the first volume of which was critically acclaimed:
Manchester has such control over a huge and moving narrative, such illumintation of chracter, and such a steady acceptance of the contrariness of a remarkable man...that he can claim the considerable achievement of having assembled enough powerful evidence to support Isaiah Berlin's judgement of Churchill as "the largest human being of our time." Alistair Cooke, The New YorkerIn Alone, Manchester challenges the assumption that Churchill's finest hour was as a wartime leader. During the years 19321940, he was tested as few men are. Pursued by creditors ? at one point he had to put his home up for sale ? he remained solvent only by writing an extraordinary number of books and magazine articles. He was disowned by his own party, dismissed by the BBC and Fleet Street and the social and political establishment as a warmonger, and twice nearly lost his seat in Parliament. Churchill stood almost alone against Nazi aggression and the British and French pusillanimous policy of appeasement.
Despite his personal and political troubles, Churchill managed to assemble a vast, underground intelligence network ? both within the British government and on the Continent ? which provided him with more complete and accurate information on Germany's rearmament than the government was able to gather.
Manchester, in an even more controversial vein, challenges the popular belief that appeasement was the weak policy of men ready to pay any price for peace. Digging in British, French, and German archives, Manchester finds the appeasers' motives far more complex and devious. He concludes that with the complicity of the London Times and in fear of the electorate's pacifist mood, the governments of MacDonald, Baldwin, and Chamberlain lied to both public and Parliament about the advanced state of German rearmament, believing that a mighty German army would serve as a bulwark against the Soviet Union.
Following their anti-Bolshevist sentiments, they cynically tolerated Hitler's expansionist goals, provided they were aimed east. Indeed, Manchester finds that by sabotaging Russia's attempt to form an anti-Fascist pact with France and Britain, the appeasers forced Stalin into his non-aggression treaty with Hitler.
Manchester tracks with new insights this complex, fascinating history without ever losing sight of Churchill the man ? a man with limitations, especially his callousness toward others (including his supporters) and his reckleessness, which could border on the foolhardy; but a man whose vision was global and whose courage was boundless. As biographer and historian, Manchester has provided us with a fresh perspective on one of the century's most fabulous men and stories.
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