After several decades of historical revisionism, Winston Churchill, the ‘Greatest Briton’ remains one of the most controversial figures in modern history. Critics allege he was a diehard imperialist and warmonger, a bitter opponent of the working classes and a maverick opportunist with an insatiable appetite for power. Despite his record as ‘the man who won the war’, he is often accused of being a war criminal.
This book sets out to correct the historical record in a stimulating collection of essays. Arranged in chronological order to show his life in the context of 20th century world history, these essays are both detailed and analytical while still highly accessible to a general audience. Each one answers a specific historical question (see ‘View sample pages’ above for Contents) about Churchill through a critical examination of the existing historical record.
The author believes that Churchill deserves to be remembered as much for his domestic policy as his wartime achievements. Of particular interest is an evaluation of his role in introducing old age pensions and unemployment benefits for the very poorest in Edwardian Britain. This, some historians argue, made the difference between revolution and evolution at the end of the war. A special section examines his political philosophy, which is revealed to be more consistent than many imagine.
While attention is given to Churchill’s prodigious political accomplishments, the book also shows how he anticipated many important debates facing the world today.
Jeremy Havardi teaches history and philosophy in London, works as a freelance journalist and is the author of Falling to Pieces: Self deception and the divided mind.
‘The [essays] are literate, well-written, and cite a variety of published sources… the book is best considered as a new introduction to Churchill and his times…’
‘Britain’s most famous politician of the twentieth century, Sir Winston Churchill, was not only a great wartime leader but also an inspiring orator, officer in the British Army, historian, artist, bricklayer and prolific writer, the only prime minister ever to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was the first person created an honorary citizen of the United States and is still revered at home, where he was overwhelmingly voted the greatest Briton of all time in a BBC poll. Nevertheless, Churchill remains one of the most controversial figures in modern history, with critics alleging that he was a diehard imperialist and warmonger, a racist, a bitter opponent of the working class and maverick opportunist. Was Churchill a democrat or a reactionary? Did he invent the tank? Was he a school dunce? Jeremy Havardi’s balanced, well-researched and generally sympathetic book demolishes much of the myth-making surrounding the great man, setting out to correct the historical record in a stimulating collection of essays. Havardi examines Churchill’s political philosophy and shows how he anticipated many important debates facing the world today.’