The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 by William Manchester

(New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1983), 883

Themes

  • man of tradition:

    • "In a thousand little ways he revealed his preference for the past and his reluctance to part with it." (11)

    • "I confess myself to be a great admirer of Tradition." (11)

    • "Fortune is rightly malignant to those who break with the customs of the past." (11)

    • "I like to live in the past. I don't think people are going to get much fun in the future." (12)

    • History: "The longer you look back, the farther you can look forward." (12)

  • War: he recognized war as a legitimate political instrument and devoted himself to a lifetime study of strategy (15)
  • strengths:

    • intense concentration on the matter at hand (35-36)

    • renaissance man (35)

    • incredible memory, quoting things he read from many years before (29)

    • beautiful prose (29-30)

    • rhetoric: "it was my only ambition to be master of the spoken word" (31)

  • weaknesses:

    • reading other people (21)

    • narcissism

    • depression (23)

    • "He had expensive tastes and he always indulged them." (28)

  • he strove to defeat his enemy entirely but be reasonable in victory (22)

Before the contents:

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
—John F. Kennedy on Theodore Roosevelt, New York City, December 5, 1961

The Preamble (which ends on page 39) is marvelous. It is worth reading this if nothing else. It gives you a sense of Churchill's life, his importance, and the beauty of his language. Manchester begins by outlining the dire straights England was in at the beginning of the Second World War and who would be needed to help, only to allude to Churchill in a magnificent way: "In London there was such a man." (4)

Quotes

"If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground." (6, to the War Cabinet)

"It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion's heart; I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar." (7, on his 80th birthday)

"If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or, as it were, fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on their shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you will at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances." (31)

Brevity: "This paper, by its very length, defends itself against being read." (31)

Finding himself naked before FDR: "The Prime Minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the President of the United States." (34)

Insults

  • "You're a modest man with much to be modest about" (34)

Quotes about Churchill

"Winston is a man of simple tastes. He is always prepared to put up with the best of everything." (26, F.E. Smith)

"He believed that of all languages, English was incomparably superior. On his tongue, it was." (31)

Notes

Jobs

Elected to parliament at 25 (I'm 27 as I read this), (8)

Published 56 books (13)

painted and was a bricklayer at Chartwell


Topic: Winston Churchill


Created: 2018-07-11
Updated: 2022-03-23-Wed