The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 by William Manchester

The Last Lion

(New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2012), 1053

Themes

  • man of action:

    • "Reading, for Churchill, was a form of action" (6)

    • "he was working all the time, every waking moment" (Kathleen Hill, 9)

    • "he was absolutely incapable of doing nothing" (Sir William Deakin, 15)

    • squeezed two days of work into one (989)

  • "One problem with deception is that the deceivers deceive themselves." (142)
  • On being #2 (Beaverbrook, 311)
  • Churchill always saw ahead...

    • in the Cold War (444)

    • in the strategy against Japan (449)

    • implications of atomic weapons (995) and MAD (1025)

  • on sacking subordinates (560)
  • Churchill's strategy: impatience, flexibility, attack the weaker of two enemies (602)
  • Simplicity:

    • "He hated the intellectual arrogance of the left" (944)

    • "He spoke to the common man, and more important, could speak like the common man" (988)

    • dislike for PC speech (994)

Books He Liked

  • Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by Byron (among others on 23)
  • Gibbon (who contributed to his oratory style of winding up and then releasing, 28)
  • Fowler's Modern English Usage (30)
  • Hornblower (391)
  • Grant's war memoirs (which he read when he was 13!) (519)
  • Phineas Finn and The Duke's Children (871)
  • Jane Eyre, Trollope, Candide, Wuthering Heights, 1984, Phineas Finn, C.S. Forester (1023), Death to the French (1026)
  • movies (1041)

Quotes

  • "Gentlemen, we are engaged in a very serious business. We must conduct it in a serious way." (8)
  • called children "wollygogs" (like my chollywogs) (16)
  • Beyond just technology: "Projects undreamed-of by past generations will absorb our immediate descendants comforts, activities, amenities, pleasures will crowd upon them, but their hearts will ache, and their lives will be barren if they have not a vision above material things." (17)
  • "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." (56)
  • "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." (RAF, 147)
  • "Anger is a waste of energy. Steam which is used to blow off a safety valve would be better used to drive an engine." (304)
  • Never give in: "There is...this vitally important principle of stubborn resistance to the will of the enemy." (366)
  • Probability: "Fate holds terrible forfeits for those who gamble on certainties." (403, also 19, also 833)
  • "When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite" (426)
  • "I would rather be right than consistent" (438, also quote by Eden on 882)
  • "Truth is so precious that she should always be protected by a bodyguard of lies." (767)
  • "The idea that you can vote yourself into prosperity is one of the most ludicrous that was ever entertained." (871)
  • After losing the election: Clemmie - "It may well be a blessing in disguise.", Churchill - "Well, at the moment it's certainly very well disguised." (950)
  • "Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and he gospel of envy." (987)
  • "It was a nation and race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar." (1032)

Insults

  • on Stanley Baldwin: "Occasionally he stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened." (5)
  • "This report, by its very length, defends itself against scrutiny." (13)

Humorous

  • "One of his private secretaries, noting the rising smoke, offered, 'You're on fire, sir. May I put you out?' The P.M., not looking up, responded with nonchalance, 'Yes, please do.' And kept right at his work." (27)
  • on Mussolini: "the decline and fall of the Italian Empire...that will not take a future Gibbon so long to write as the original work." (286)
  • "If Brooke possessed a sense of humor, it was well concealed." (551)
  • "You might as well eat a porcupine one quill at a time" (680)
  • "I feel more like entering a lunatic asylum...than continuing with my present job." (Brooke 764)
  • "Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter." (991-2)

Quotes about Churchill

  • Simple: "Churchill had a natural sympathy for simple people, because he himself took a simple view of what was required; and he hated casuistry. That was no doubt why the man-in-the-street loved him and the intellectuals did not." (Jock Colville, 6)
  • "Churchill simply did not much care for what other people thought, and cared not at all about how they might feel" (8)
  • Respect: "Those who vehemently disagreed with him, and stated their case clearly, were those who won his respect." (14)
  • "He did not live in the past; the past lived on in him." (24)
  • "The idea that Britain was part of Europe but not 'in' Europe informed Churchill's political beliefs for his entire life." (119, 963)
  • "He often said that history would be kind to him, because he would write it." (207)
  • "He had a way of seeing gold where others saw dirt." (341)
  • "Churchill spent his entire life rehearsing his impromptu remarks" (365)
  • Maps: "Churchill loved maps, as much for their utility as for their ability to stoke his imagination" (427)
  • Constructive conflict: "Whereas a peevish Hitler squelched dissent, Churchill fostered an often-fractious give-and-take between himself and his generals, with the result that decisions taken were made stronger by having been annealed in the furnace of debate." (448)
  • "Neither Alexander nor Ismay 'felt in the least aggrieved' by Churchill's 'deliciously ingenuous lack of consideration' for their personal safety and convenience because 'we knew he would treat himself in exactly the same way—and worse—if he thought it would help the war." (689)
  • Faith: "Churchill didn't write prayers, and he didn't say prayers." (782-3)
  • "Churchill venerated tradition, but ridiculed convention" (833)
  • "For all that I thank God I was given an opportunity of working alongside such a man, and having my eyes opened to the fact that occasionally such supermen exist on this earth." (Brooke, 952)

Notes

Cyclone: May-Dec 1940

  • 9 months of nothing after invasion of Poland (41)
  • Norway campaign (57)
  • Nazi attack to low countries & France (61+)
  • Halt Order and Dunkirk evacuation (74-87)
  • June 22, 1940 France surrenders, British attack French fleet at Mers-el-Kébir (105)
  • Churchill's strategy: defend England; defend and attack in the Mediterranean (111)
  • Prepare for German invasion (121)
  • The Battle of Britain (133+)
  • The Blitz (161+) and X-Beam (214)
  • North Africa: Operation Compass; destroy forces rather than keep real estate (228)

The Rapids: Jan-Dec 1941

  • Cajoling Roosevelt & Lend-Lease: "Give us the tools, and we will finish the job." (295)
  • Battle of the Atlantic (314+)
  • Rommel advances (326)
  • Defeat in Greece (329), but amphibious landing learnings (334)
  • Malta (348)
  • Deputy Füher Rudolf Hess parachutes into Scotland (350)
  • Battle for Crete (353)
  • Sinking the Bismark (356)
  • Hitler could have crushed the British in the Mediterranean but overruled Rommel and Raeder (371)
  • Germany invades Russia (377)
  • First meeting with Roosevelt, the Atlantic Charter (389)
  • American ships sunk, but don't enter (398)

Vortex: Dec 1941 - Nov 1942

  • Agree to build A-bomb (420)
  • Pearl Harbor (421)
  • Ireland did not fight (423, and 922)
  • Prince of Wales lost to Japanese
  • Germany declares war on America, completing Churchill's Grand Alliance (440)
  • The Cold War started in 1941 (444) [also Katyn incident 669]
  • Churchill's portrait in Canada (459), and United Nations (461), and fly back to Britain but almost die (468)
  • Domestic political challenges overcome (472)
  • Fall of Singapore (480)
  • St-Nazaire raid (498), desperate naval situation (501), and Doolittle raid (503)
  • Staggering shipping losses (512)
  • Oil and attrition (516)
  • Midway (533)
  • Operation Torch (548, 578, 585)
  • Meets Stalin in Moscow (561)
  • The tide turns...the "end of the beginning" (589, 591)

Crosscurrents: Nov 1942 - Dec 1943

  • Strategic bombing of Europe (616)
  • Casablanca conference (621) and Roosevelt's "unconditional surrender" (631)
  • German's defeated at Stalingrad (636)
  • Montgomery defeats Rommel at Medenine (646) and victory in North Africa (677)
  • U-boats (648) and post-war discussions (651)
  • Start planning Overlord (681)
  • Invasion of Sicily (687)
  • Visit to US, with American command of Overlord (711)
  • Tehran conference (753)

Pilot: Dec 1943 - Jun 1944

  • Eisenhower to command Overlord (776)
  • Churchill's direction of landings at Anzio (785), which fail (798)
  • Battle of the Atlantic is won (786)
  • Economic competition and the decline of the Empire (809)
  • Italy campaign stalled (814)
  • Manhattan Project (825)
  • Lead up to Overlord (817)
  • Rome liberated (836)
  • D-Day (839)
  • America emerges as a "superpower" (845)

Anchorage: Jun 1944 - May 1945

  • V-1 attacks (853)
  • Operation Bagration (859)
  • Quebec conference (872)
  • Battle of the Bulge (886)
  • Visit to Athens (887)
  • Yalta conference (898)
  • Bombing of Dresden, but stopping the strategic bombing campaign (905)
  • Hitler is dead (918)
  • V-E Day (923)

Ebb Tide: 1945 - 1955

  • The "Iron Curtain" descends, Potsdam conference (933)
  • Plan for possible war with Russia: "Operation Unthinkable" (935)
  • Domestic socialism (940), and Churchill loses the election (949)
  • Nationalization of Britain under new leadership (954)
  • UN (955)
  • Churchill gives "Iron Curtain" speech in America (957)
  • Toward a united Europe (963)
  • Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan (966)
  • Churchill is finally rich (968), despite British austerity (975)
  • Berlin Airlift (982)
  • Korea (983)
  • Winston is back as PM (1016)
  • Churchill is knighted (1022)
  • Bermuda conference (1024)
  • Washington (1028)

Postscript 1955 - 1965

  • Challenges with his children (1035, 1038)
  • Honorary US Citizenship (1051)
  • Dies January 24, 1965 (1052)

Topic: Winston Churchill

New Words

  • doyen (115)
  • insouciance (900)

Created: 2020-10-19
Updated: 2022-09-01-Thu