Churchill: The Unexpected Hero

By Paul Addison | Go to book overview

Prologue

Winston Churchill won two great victories in the Second World War. The first was a victory over Nazi Germany. The second was a victory over the many sceptics who, for decades, had derided his judgement, denied his claims to greatness, and excluded him from 10 Downing Street on the grounds that he was sure to be a danger to King and Country. The roar of approval which greeted him on VE Day, as he addressed the crowds from the balcony of the Ministry of Health in Whitehall, was a moment of triumph in a battle over his reputation that had been going on ever since the turn of the century. The epic struggle between Churchill and his critics is the underlying theme of this short life.

Churchill's victory was never complete. Even at the height of his power and glory there were some who resisted the enchanter's spell. The day before he became Prime Minister in 1940 the Permanent Secretary to the Foreign Office, Sir Alexander Cadogan, wrote in his diary: 'I don't think they'll get a better P.M. than Neville [Chamberlain].' Nearly five years later he was writing: 'I long for poor old Neville Chamberlain again. He did know how to conduct business.'1 The general acclaim for Churchill as a war leader concealed the views of critics for whom he was at best a hero with feet of clay, and agnostics for whom he was never a hero at all. Nor was the permanence of Churchill's triumph guaranteed. In 1918 Lloyd George was the great war

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Churchill: The Unexpected Hero
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Prologue 1
  • One - The Youngest Man in Europe, 1874–1901 7
  • Two - The Renegade, 1901–1911 29
  • Three - The Lilliput Napoleon, 1911–1915 57
  • Four - The Winstonburg Line, 1915–1924 82
  • Five - Respectability Won and Lost, 1924–1939 112
  • Six - The Making of a Hero, 1939–1945 153
  • Seven - Climbing Olympus, 1945–1965 216
  • Eight - Churchill Past and Present 246
  • Notes 255
  • Bibliography 275
  • Index 287
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