The Churchill Factor : How One Man Made History, Paperback

The Churchill Factor : How One Man Made History Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


'The must-read biography of the year.' Evening Standard 'He writes with gusto...the result is a book that is never boring, genuinely clever ...this book sizzles.' The Times 'The point of the Churchill Factor is that one man can make all the difference.' On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of Winston Churchill's death, and written in conjunction with the Churchill Estate, Boris Johnson explores what makes up the 'Churchill Factor' - the singular brilliance of one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century.

Taking on the myths and misconceptions along with the outsized reality, he portrays - with characteristic wit and passion - a man of multiple contradictions, contagious bravery, breath-taking eloquence, matchless strategizing, and deep humanity. Fearless on the battlefield, Churchill had to be ordered by the King to stay out of action on D-Day; he embraced large-scale strategic bombing, yet hated the destruction of war and scorned politicians who had not experienced its horrors.

He was a celebrated journalist, a great orator and won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was famous for his ability to combine wining and dining with many late nights of crucial wartime decision-making.

His open-mindedness made him a pioneer in health care, education, and social welfare, though he remained incorrigibly politically incorrect.

Most of all, as Boris Johnson says, 'Churchill is the resounding human rebuttal to all who think history is the story of vast and impersonal economic forces'.

The Churchill Factor is a book to be enjoyed not only by anyone interested in history: it is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what makes a great leader.




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I have never been a big fan of Boris Johnson. I find his carefully constructed air of buffoonery particularly irritating - whatever his other shortcomings might be, he is very far from a buffoon - and I find his relentless self-regard irksome in the extreme. He is, however, a fine writer, and his analysis of Churchill's success as a politician is both informative and immensely entertaining.I was lamentably ignorant about the life of Churchill before reading this book. Obviously I knew of his steadfast leadership of Britain through the Second World War, and his powerful rhetoric and oratory, but I was unaware of the extent of his personal heroism throughout his own military career, or of his huge literary output. As Johnson makes clear, not only did his published writings exceed the total output of either Dickens or Shakespeare, they exceed the aggregate of both Dickens AND Shakespeare. Where did he find the time, with all his other responsibilities (which clearly weren't shirked).This isn't an exhaustive biography. Johnson chooses instead to focus on a series of aspects of the great man's life, and illuminates them with his own coruscating prose. It is clear that Churchill is one of Johnson's heroes, though this book avoids falling into the trap of blind hagiography. Johnson concedes that Churchill had his faults, and he addresses them fairly, offering some mitigation where appropriate, but clearly acknowledging them.For most of the book, which seemed to have been very deeply researched (prompting me to wonder where Johnson himself found the time among his other responsibilities), Johnson's prose was sharp, concise and clear. I felt that in the latter chapters, where he recapitulates his analysis of Churchill's successes, he slipped into a more jokey approach (that inescapable patina of buffoonery, again) which simply didn't strike the right note. A fine work overall, with just a few avoidable weaknesses.

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