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Chirchill Response Paper - Essay Example

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The book takes on added credibility because Johnson is personally acquainted with Churchill and gives a lot of first-hand information and personal anecdotes. On the negative…
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“Churchill Response Paper. Paul Johnson’s biography, “Churchill” is packed with information about the great Winston Churchill. The book takes on added credibility because Johnson is personally acquainted with Churchill and gives a lot of first-hand information and personal anecdotes. On the negative side, it is obvious that the author is an ardent admirer of Churchill. The very first sentence, “Of all the towering figures of the twentieth century, both good and evil, Winston Churchill was the most valuable to humanity, and also the most likable” (Johnson, 5), sets the tone for the book. The reader debates the categorical use of such superlatives. Johnson is sometimes too kind to his subject: Churchill’s being a “Conservative, Liberal, Coalition, Constitutionalist, Unionist, and National Conservative” (15), is definitely the sign of a political opportunist and the author’s terming this “Churchill’s courage in crossing the floor” (15), is a little mild!
Churchill’s foresight is remarkable. His “prophetic words --- spoken more than a dozen years before the catastrophe” (Johnson, 14) of World War I, show him to be a man of awesome intellect. Another instance of Churchill’s remarkable judgment is the case of communist Russia, when he attempts to reverse Lenin’s Bolshevik coup in 1917, and nip communism in the bud. Again, his failed attempts to convince FDR to decisively combat communism in the final stages of World War II, show that he is the only senior statesman of that time to fully appreciate the dangers of communism. Johnson provokes the reader to wonder whether the Cold War, and the atrocities of the Gulag, could have been avoided if Churchill had his way. Churchill is one of the first to realize the threat posed by Hitler. Churchill’s early investment in Middle East oil, through BP, is another case which demonstrates his prescience.
Churchill is so completely identified with Britain in the period of war that it is a revelation to know that he was also an excellent peace time administrator. His welfare measures as President of the Board of Trade, and his prison reforms as Home Secretary, add to his stature. He is obviously an administrator par excellence. Britain definitely would not have had the navy and air force she did, if not for Churchill.
Johnson’s inclusion of many of Churchill’s witticisms adds to the appeal of the book and ensures that the heavy parts are enlivened and the reader is never bored. Some gems: “I trod on the Prince of Wales’s toe,” he recorded complacently, “and heard him yelp” (Johnson, 17); He joked, “The evidence shows we must back Plaster-arse. Let us hope his feet are not of clay” (Johnson, 74); “Yes, he is a modest man. But then he has so much to be modest about” (Johnson, 75). Churchill’s inspirational speeches during the war also make for great reading.
Johnson paints a picture of a man who has an undiminished capacity for life until the end. The range of Churchill’s talents is absolutely incredible. He is an amazingly multi-faceted personality: writer, historian, politician, painter, brick-layer, polo player, lake digger and a lover of birds and animals. Even at the last stage of his life, he adopts a new interest – race horses! The vignette of him being hauled up a cliff in a bosun’s chair is delightful!
As the author takes the reader through the intimate decision making and course of two World Wars, the reader cannot help wondering: how much of history is due to “the mistakes and ignorances of staffs and cabinets, of admirals, generals and politicians” (Johnson, 32). This is a very sobering thought.
Works Cited.
Johnson, Paul. Churchill. New York: Penguin Group, 2009. Print. Read More
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