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Publisher's Summary

Winston Churchill is an icon of modern history, but even though he was at the forefront of the political scene for almost 60 years, he might be remembered only as a minor player in the drama of British government had it not been for World War II. In this magisterial book, Roy Jenkins' unparalleled command of the political history of Britain and his own high-level government experience combine in a narrative account of Churchill's astounding career that is unmatched in its shrewd insights, its unforgettable anecdotes, the clarity of its overarching themes, and the author's nuanced appreciation of his extraordinary subject.

From a very young age, Churchill believed he was destined to play a great role in the life of his nation, and he determined to prepare himself. Jenkins shows in fascinating detail how Churchill educated himself for greatness, how he worked out his livelihood (writing) as well as his professional life (politics), how he situated himself at every major site or moment in British imperial and governmental life. His parliamentary career was like no other - with its changes of allegiance (from the Conservative to the Liberal and back to the Conservative Party), its troughs and humiliations, its triumphs and peaks - and for decades, especially the crisis years of the late 1930s and the terrifying 1940s, when at last it was clear how vital Churchill was to the very survival of Britain. He evaluates Churchill's other accomplishments, his writings, with equal authority.

Exceptional in its breadth of knowledge and distinguished by its stylish wit and penetrating intelligence, this is one of the finest political biographies of our time.

©2001 Roy Jenkins (P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"A first-class, well-sustained work of history and a masterpiece of biography." (The Sunday Telegraph)
"This is far and away Churchill's best one-volume biography." (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.)

What listeners say about Churchill

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Excellent from start to finish

I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to the world of audiobooks. Given Jenkins career, I enjoyed its focus on Churchill's 65 years involvment in parliamentary politics. Jenkins contrasts Churchill's experiences with his own parliamentary career sparingly and appropriately. Jenkin's experience as both Home secretary and Chancellor of the exchequor informs much of his analysis of Churchill's own stint in these positions. Given Churchill was never far from the center of govenment affairs for the first half of the 20th the book remained exciting throughout. Jenkin's fluent writing style is enhanced by Robert whitfields magnificent narration, who can do a top notch Churchill impersonation.

1 person found this helpful

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Churchill a great book

I like this book alot. Easy to understand, liked the Story. I liked learning about the most popular prime minister of the 20 century.. Book explains biography.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great political biography

A biography written by a politician and therefore providing a politician's eye view on Churchill. Fascinating for this reason.

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One heck of a story

This gives us a great insight into Churchill. Having listened to this, I'm inclined to agree that he was the greatest Prine Minister of the 20th Century. The mood of the period is captured and narrated beautifully. This is well worth the listen.

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Magnificent!

I was swept away by Churchill’s journey against the backdrop of twentieth century European history.

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  • Francis
  • 29-11-2007

A biography worthy of Churchill

If anyone is wondering whether it is worthwhile to spend a day and a half of your life listening to this biography, I would answer resoundingly yes. Whatever your own political affiliations, Churchill remains a fascinating character and his biography is inextricably woven in with the history of the last century. Roy Jenkins is an excellent biographer: this is neither hagiography nor hatchet job.The narrative is clear and constantly interesting , the judgements on people and events are shrewd and judicious. In particular, as might be expected Jenkins is a masterly guide to the workings of the British political system. Robert Whitfield's reading is most competent: his Churchill imitation is only passable, but proves to be valuable as not the least pleasure of the book is the generous quotation of Churchill's own words from letters and speeches. No contemporary politician comes anywhere near his mastery of English. A measure of this biography's success is that it does not seem long or overdetailed despite its length. There are many biographies of Churchill -some even longer, others more concise -but this account of Jenkins impresses me as a fair-minded guide and a work worthy of its subject.

47 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tom
  • 19-12-2009

A long book but very enjoyable

I read this book when it was first published and very much enjoyed it and it translates very well to audiobook - narration is excellent, perfectly paced with characters brought vividly to life.

Roy Jenkins presents a very believable and admiring portrait of Churchill - warts as well as genius. What amazed me when I first read the book, and now, is Churchill's indefatigable self confidence and energy. I am not sure that he was blessed with that much greater brains than the rest of us, but his courage, commitment, inexhaustible energy and vision is truly astonishing - it is hard not to compare to the current lot of politicians and find the latter severely wanting. And Roy Jenkins' prose is direct and readable.

I know it's 37 hours long but the journey is well worth the time!

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Peter Thomas
  • 15-07-2010

A fine Potrait of a Great Man

To do justice to the life of one of the Greatest Ever Politicians of our times is a difficult feet but Roy Jenkins in the main achieves this, I am certain that some will feel that perhaps too much attention is given to the art of politics but given the Authors background it is unsurprising. All in all it is an excellent Potrait of a Great Man and the Narrator does a fine job. A bargain and well worth the time.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ainslie
  • 22-03-2006

Iain Macleod

As a single book description of Churchill's life, this is an excellent biography. As a politician himself, Roy Jenkins analysis of Churchill is inciteful and always interesting.

This is a biography that will allow you to better understand one of the 20th Century's most important leaders.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nils
  • 13-04-2013

A rivetingly observant and well-written biography

I have never read/listened to a biography that was so immensely filled with well-written, well-researched and entertaining information as this one.



Be prepared to spend the time on this book - it is a very long biography of a man with a very long and extremely full life that changed the course of history for so many of us.



Jenkins' style of writing is a joy to listen to and expertly read by Robert Whitfield (who is unknown to me) - brimming with helpful and elegant interpretation and ever adding snippets of information setting the tone or background of a particular event, the part played by a side character, or simply filling in to help history-weak readers like myself.



Jenkins is rather ((too?) discrete about the darker moments in Churchill's life, but they are there, as they should be in a proper biography.



Little, often humourous, comments are interspersed thorughout the book - much appreciated.



As I have not read other biographies on Churchill, I am unable to make comparisons. Suffice it to say that I have enjoyed "meeting" Sir Winston in this way (I have been through it two - and partly three - times so far) and can wholeheartedly recommend it. Interested in Churchill? - read it! Interested in history? - read it! Just wanting to be entertained while being inspired by a great statesman? Enjoy!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul
  • 26-04-2009

Really excellent!

Really interesting. The besy audio book I have bought and worth every penny. Robert Whitfield is a very easy voice to listen to and Roy Jenkins has covered all the angles. I cannot rate it highly enough.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ian1956
  • 23-05-2010

Excellent

A fine and measured reading of Jenkins' inpeccable prose. The book may be too long for many, but it makes an excellent summary of British and European history in the first half of the 20th century through the career of Churchill.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris Rayner
  • 07-04-2013

A thorough portrait of a national hero

I was a young schoolboy during Churchill's last administration. His speeches and deeds resonated through my childhood, and the popular culture rang with praise and admiration for him. As I grew up I began to realise that he had not always been the figure of national reverence that he became in later life, but up until his death he remained a largely unquestioned icon of his times.



Roy Jenkins, although a political opponent, and coming from a later generation, nevertheless gives a well-researched and sympathetic account of his life and career. There is sometimes, for me at any rate, a little too much information on political and social facts of the time, but to those who are younger and less well acquainted with the politics and society of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries I'm sure this background would be helpful.



Robert Whitfield's reading, for me, is nigh on perfect. His accent and tone is perhaps to a modern listener a little antique, but it blends well in my ear with the era and habits of the people who are being described. It is always difficult to strike a balance between doing an imitation of Churchill's unique delivery and diction, which can all too easily become a sort of comic parody, and simply reading his words in a normal speaking voice. I think here the balance has been well struck. It is clear when Churchill is being quoted, the words are spoken in a voice approaching his accent and intonation, but the style does not approach mimicry.



All in all, this is an informative, complete, and entertaining account of a long and eventful life of a man who was arguably the greatest British statesman of his generation, if not his century. A life, moreover, which affected British, European and World history to the profound benefit of succeeding generations.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Francis
  • Francis
  • 29-11-2007

A biography worthy of Churchill

If anyone is wondering whether it is worthwhile to spend a day and a half of your life listening to this biography, I would answer resoundingly yes. Whatever your own political affiliations, Churchill remains a fascinating character and his biography is inextricably woven in with the history of the last century. Roy Jenkins is an excellent biographer: this is neither hagiography nor hatchet job.The narrative is clear and constantly interesting , the judgements on people and events are shrewd and judicious. In particular, as might be expected Jenkins is a masterly guide to the workings of the British political system. Robert Whitfield's reading is most competent: his Churchill imitation is only passable, but proves to be valuable as not the least pleasure of the book is the generous quotation of Churchill's own words from letters and speeches. No contemporary politician comes anywhere near his mastery of English. A measure of this biography's success is that it does not seem long or overdetailed despite its length. There are many biographies of Churchill -some even longer, others more concise -but this account of Jenkins impresses me as a fair-minded guide and a work worthy of its subject.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Wood
  • 14-01-2018

Insightful biography with not a stone unturned

Although a very long book this was well worth the time I invested in reading it. Roy Jenkins provided me with an informative insight into the orders of the day, the context and Churchill's actions. A great read.


It would be an enhancement if the Chapter Titles could be added rather than it simply saying Chapter 1 etc.

I would also like to see some additional speed options added. Currently they jump from 1.5 to 2 a 1.75 would be most helpful.

5 people found this helpful

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