As one of the most admired political leaders of the twentieth century, Winston Churchill holds iconic status in popular memory. But in this incisive new biography, acclaimed military historian Richard Holmes offers a remarkable reappraisal of Churchill by examining the influences that shaped his character. Drawing upon never-before-seen materials such as letters between the young Churchill and his parents, Holmes paints the most complete portrait to date of the man who stood up to Hitler and led his people to victory against all odds.Detailing the decisive events of Churchill's life—from his childhood to his experiences in the Boer War through his rapid rise in politics—Holmes demonstrates the central role Churchill's character played in the key decisions of his public life. With an already inflated sense of self, Churchill had several lucky escapes in combat—in the Boer War and in the trenches of WWI—convincing him that he was saved for a reason and was destined for greatness. In the Footsteps of Churchill uncovers a surprisingly different Churchill—both admirable and difficult—through the lens of his character.
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Richard Holmes is Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science in Britain. He is the author of numerous books, and is the general editor of The Oxford Companion to Military History . He lives in Hampshire, England.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. A 2002 BBC poll established Churchill as history's greatest Briton. Leading British military historian Holmes offers not a biography but an interpretation of the man, one that highlights the ironic fact that the social and political order Churchill defended has virtually disappeared. His Churchill was an unquiet spirit; Holmes describes him as spinning from crisis to crisis for most of his life, gaining experience and wisdom the hard way: helping to commit an unprepared Britain to war in 1914; forging '20s economic policies that left later governments unable to undertake the military buildup Churchill then demanded; failing to maintain Britain's position as a great power after WWII. Both before and after that war, Churchill, Holmes shows, devoted his considerable talent as a historian to misrepresenting the historical record to his advantage. But in 1940 Winston Churchill was able to define his and Britain's century in battle against the Nazis, and, for Holmes, that has been enough to secure his greatness. Holmes has no use for the revisionist argument that Britain was best advised to compromise in the crucial summer of 1940. Instead he demonstrates that Churchill's eloquence, courage and honor left an unforgettable legacy to the British people, and to free men and women everywhere. Holmes similarly demolishes charges that Churchill was a racist and a warmonger. He presents a man truly larger than life. (June)
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