Creators.com - Over the Christmas holiday, I read a couple of books that, at least for me, may provide some guidance in the upcoming tumultuous and probably consequential year. The first book was "Munich, 1938" by David Faber (grandson of former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan), by far the most authoritative book on that world-changing event.
Beyond the obvious policy point that appeasement is generally bad, the value of the book is in its dissection of how the experienced leadership class of the then-leading power - the British Empire - was able to think, talk and deceive itself to a catastrophically bad policy decision. The author reveals in minute example how domestic politics, leaks and counter leaks to major newspapers shaped - and misshaped - both vital foreign policy judgment and how the world construed and misconstrued British strategic thinking.
Winston Churchill mobbed by crowd as attends wedding of his daughter
ATTLEE Arriving with Mrs Attlee at St. Margaret's, Westminster for the wedding of Mary Churchill to Captain Soames
MRS. CHURCHILL Present at the wedding of her daughter, Mary at St. Margaret's Westminster
WINSTON CHURCHILL Escorting his daughter into St. Margaret's Westminster for her marriage to Captain Soames. Later, receiving one of the greatest ovations of his career, struggling to get through crowds, Winston Churchill mobbed by crowd
Churchill's only surviving child visits the University
Press release issued 14 December 2009
On Saturday [12 December], Lady Soames, Winston Churchill's youngest and last surviving child, attended a commemorative event in Wills Hall at the University to mark the 80th anniversary of the official opening of the Hall by her father in December 1929, following his installation as Chancellor.
Lady Soames first visited the University with her father on 12 April 1941, when he conferred honorary degrees on the American ambassador to Britain, John Gilbert Winant, and the Australian prime minister, Robert Gordon Menzies.
The Wall Street joutnal (11 Dec 2009) - Paul Johnson is the most celebrated and best-loved British historian in America, especially by readers of a conservative bent. Astonishingly prolific, he has over three decades produced a series of serious best sellers, all of which present a refreshingly revisionist take on their subjects. Most controversial of all, perhaps, was his defense of Richard Nixon in his "A History of the American People." But there is plenty in each of his histories to startle readers used to conventional wisdom or the liberal conventions of academia.
Now, at 81 and after years of producing enormous, compulsively readable history books, Mr. Johnson has just written what, at 192 pages, is probably the shortest biography of Winston Churchill ever published.
It came about, he says, because the head of Viking Penguin approached him "saying that young people are very interested in Winston Churchill but we find they are most reluctant to read long books. . . . She said do you think you could do a short biography, and I said 'it's a cinch!'"
He gives credit to his success as a historian to his simultaneous and successful career in journalism. "You learn all sorts of tools as a journalist that come in extremely useful when you're writing history," he tells me as we sit in the drawing room of the West London house he shares with his wife, Marigold, "and one is the ability to condense quite complicated events into a few short sentences without being either inaccurate or boring. And of course a lot of the best historians were also journalists." He cites Thomas Babington Macaulay, the French historians François Guizot and Adolphe Thiers, and Churchill himself, "a very good journalist and in his own way a superb historian. . . . One of the things I hope this little book will do is persuade people to read Churchill's own books. 'My Early Life' is one of the best volumes of autobiography ever written-it's an enchanting book, full of fun and humor."
The Daily Telegraph (30 Nov 1954) - "A few curmudgeons have flamboyantly abstained from joining in this birthday greeting; but they are so few that their action merely emphasises the fact that personal respect and friendship habitually survive and transcend political conflict in the Mother of Parliaments. It is particularly appropriate that these all-party tributes on his birthday should be paid to one, the outstanding fact of whose character and career is that he has never been happier than when leading men of all parties and men of no party in some great national cause. He has never ceased to combine zeal for reform with reverence for tradition.
"And as in home affairs so in world affairs he has within him the stuff of which fertile cooperation is woven. The man to whom the Old World owes so much of its survival himself belongs by blood half to the New-he is, as has been neatly said, ‘half American and all English'--and this great citizen of an island realm has always had an unusual comprehension of Continental nations. Where he has loved them, he has marched loyally with them through dark hours. Where he has fought them, his hate has died with their surrender.
"Let us not forget that a birthday which has been made a national and indeed an international event is in its essence a family event. For half a century of sunshine and storm he has had in Lady Churchill as today, a stimulating and sensible companion, charming the magic casements of his life. Of all the birthday presents, none can be more precious than the sum of those years of undemanding and undeviating affection.
Jesus and Churchill - Who Would You Follow on Twitter?
Prospect Magazine - A fascinating poll was recenlty conducted by the UK's Prospect magazine asking 2000+ people in the UK which figure from history they would be most likely to follow on Twitter.
Sir Winston Churchill came top (34 per cent) followed by Jesus (30 per cent) and Darwin (28 per cent).
Churchill won the most votes with Conservative supporters, men, those aged over 35 and the English. Jesus had the vote of Scots and Labour voters. But with Liberal democrats, women and the under 35s the pair were a "statistical dead-heat."
Churchill Collection Donated to University of South Carolina
On September 18, 2009, in ceremonies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, Dr. & Mrs. E. Conyers O'Bryan, Jr, presented their extensive collection of Churchill's writings, books and an oil painting by Winston S. Churchill to the university's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Dr. & Mrs. O'Bryan of Florence, SC donated more than 80 volumes of Churchill's writings, among which were several first editions of his books and an oil on canvas painting "The Garden at Wilton" by Churchill, circa 1935. Also in the collection is a portrait of Prime Minister Churchill in front of the official residence, Number 10 Downing Street, an Oscar Nemon bust of Churchill, five volumes from Winston Churchill's personal library at Chartwell and other memorabilia.
Expressing appreciation on behalf of The Churchill Centre were Mr. Ken Childs, president of the Bernard Baruch Society, a chapter of The Churchill Centre, and Craig Horn, Southeast Regional Director of The Churchill Centre. Also noted at the library was the world's largest collection of original "Movietone" News newsreels, many of which included fascinating footage of Winston, Clementine and Mary during WWII.
Spotlight Falls on Churchill's Forgotten Irish Right-Hand Man
The Irish Times (5 November 2009) - LONDON LETTER: Brendan Bracken left republican roots behind to become Churchill's key ally, a rich financial publisher and a viscount, writes MARK HENNESSY
THE EARLY morning mist rose from the grounds of Winston Churchill's home in Chartwell on the Weald of Kent, leaving wisps lingering on branch and hedge, exposing the black swans grooming by the side of the lake.
So much of Chartwell is Churchill's creation: the house was practically rebuilt in the 1920s; the lake and swimming pool were made to his orders, while many of the redbrick walls around the estate were put up by his own hand.
After his time in office ended in the late 1920s, Churchill faced the lean years of the 1930s, when his warnings about Nazi aggression went unheeded, and friends were notable by their rarity.
Brendan Bracken was one of them. Today, he features in just one photograph in the house, standing, appropriately, in the background as Churchill left Downing Street on the day after France fell in June 1940.
ScienceDaily (25 Oct 2009) - It has passed as fact among historians, journalists and politicians, and has been recounted everywhere from tourist guidebooks to the floor of the U.S. Congress: British forces used chemical weapons on Iraqis just after World War I.
But that claim has never been fully squared with the historical record, says R. M. Douglas, a historian at Colgate University. According to Douglas's research, forthcoming in the December issue of The Journal of Modern History, no such incident ever occurred.
Allegations of chemical bombings by the British erupted into the public sphere during the run up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iraq's history of chemical weapons did not start with Saddam Hussein's gas attack on the Kurds, scholars and critics asserted. It was Great Britain when it controlled the region under League of Nations mandate in the 1920s that first used chemical weapons in the region to quell Arab uprisings. Many scholars went so far as to root Arab distrust of the West in Britain's brutal chemical attacks.
The only man who could get WSC to do as he was told
As the Queen unveils a bust of herself by the late Oscar Nemon, Christopher Hope tells the sculptor's story.
By Christopher Hope
UK Telegraph (21 Oct 2010) - Nowadays, not many people know who Oscar Nemon is - but they almost certainly know his work. His statue of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery stands outside the Ministry of Defence, gazing unblinkingly at the Cenotaph on Whitehall. Nemon's statue of Winston Churchill, striding through the rubble of London in the Blitz, is in the House of Commons where his foot is polished by MPs for luck.
During a lifetime that spanned most of the 20th century, Croatia-born Nemon, who fled to Britain before the Second World War, sculpted dukes, kings, queens, lords and field marshals. Nemon collected famous subjects like Fabergé eggs: from American aviator Charles Lindbergh and the King of Belgium in the Twenties; Sigmund Freud in the Thirties; Max Beerbohm in the Forties; Churchill, the Queen and Monty in the Fifties and Sixties; to Margaret Thatcher and Diana, Princess of Wales in the Eighties.
Great-Grandson Speaks at the Annual Churchill Weekend
MK NEWS (10 July 2009) - Bletchley Park, whose codebreakers were praised for their secret but vital endeavours in Sir Winston Churchill's famous analogy, hosted its ninth event dedicated to the wartime Prime Minister.
The annual Churchill weekend saw a series of talks, including a short speech by his great-grandson, Randolph Churchill.
The 44-year-old descendant told a packed Ballroom that he was speaking to MK NEWS last week when he found out that a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of nearly £500,000 was to kick-start a transformation of the decaying buildings.
"I must say, it really brought a tear to my eye," he said.