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Finest Hour 123

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Alistair Cooke. Ronald Reagan. William Manchester. Churchill and America. George W. Bush on WSC. Myths: “Churchill Wanted to Use Poison Gas in Iraq.” Rumbles Left and Right. WSC’s Art of Negotiation. Cover: Churchill gazes out over Lake Maggiore from the Lido Palace Hotel, Baveno, Italy.

Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004

Page 05



The February 5th opening of the Library of Congress exhibit, “Churchill and the Great Republic,” was a significant event launching what may be our greatest year of accomplishment ever. Amid the glamour and excitement of the President’s unprecedented appearance at the Library, where CC people constituted twenty percent of his audience (page 29), and elegant dinners at the Library, British Embassy and Mayflower Hotel, something else occurred which for me at least was of more lasting value: The Churchill Centre held the first “open” meeting of its Executive Committee (its four officers and chairman of Trustees) on February 4th.

I have always strongly advocated open (some would say transparent) collective decision making for organizations like ours. The many of you who strongly support our work with time, donations or both must have full confidence that the Centre’s Governors are fulfilling their stewardship responsibilities. That confidence can be increased greatly if the Centre’s members know that key decisions are collective ones, reached by a process providing ready access to the Centre’s leadership.

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Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004

Page 21

By Michael McMenamin



125 Years Ago:

Summer 1879 • Age 4

“The Fund was warmly supported and grew apace.”


In his biography of his father, Churchill wrote of the difficult summer in Ireland and his grandmother’s efforts to alleviate the resulting hardships: “The wet summer of 1879 produced something like a food and fuel famine‚ in the South and West of Ireland. The potatoes failed, grain would not ripen and the turf could not be dried....But official aid was wholly insufficient without private charity and in these straits the Duchess of Marlborough came forward and appealed to the public. She was a woman of exceptional capacity, energy and decision, and she laboured earnestly and ceaselessly to collect and administer a great fund....

“The plan unfolded in her letters to The Times was welcomed not only by the Irish Conservative press, but by the Freeman’s Journal....The ultra-nationalist papers were less kindly, but the fund was warmly supported and grew apace. The Queen sent £500 and the Prince of Wales £250. By the end of the year, £8,300 had been subscribed; by March the receipts were £88,000; and before the Viceroy left Ireland [21 April 1880] on the change of Ministry, the fund was £117,000.”

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Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004

Page 47



To the Editor of The Spectator:

Michael Lind’s “Churchill for Dummies” [24 April; see Michael McMenamin’s “Real versus Rubbish,” page 34] contains much that is trite and much that is true, as Arthur Balfour once said of a speech by Churchill: “The problem is that what’s true is trite, and what’s not trite is not true.”

1) There is no doubt that American “neocons” who worship Churchill would praise him less if they knew more about him. (Had he a vote, e.g., he would have voted for the Democrat in the last eleven U.S. Presidential elections of his lifetime!) But this is hardly news to anyone who has put a modicum of study into the Churchill persona.

2) “Something called the International Churchill Society” changed its name to “The Churchill Centre” nine years ago, better to reflect its mission: which is not to worship at the shrine but to look at Churchill “in the round,” as Professor John Ramsden of Queen Mary College put it, “including listening to some pretty tough papers on the subject.” Our scholarly contributors range from Larry Arnn (not “Arn”) to Warren Kimball. They regularly tangle at our conferences and symposia.

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Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004

Page 44

Churchill at War: His 'Finest Hours' in Photographs, by Sir Martin Gilbert CBE, 160 pp., illus., published at £16.99, member price $24. Order from Churchill Stores, c/o Churchill Centre.



Nobody can produce Churchill photo documentaries like the official biographer. In this outstanding compilation commissioned by the Imperial War Museum, Sir Martin concentrates in six chapters on the six most memorable years of Churchill’s life: the Second World War. The book is not published in the United States but CC members can obtain it through Churchill Stores.

The great strength of this book is the collection of over 150 photos from the Imperial War Museum archives, coupled with Gilbert’s expert captions, supported by the usual authoritative text. We begin on 10 May 1940, Churchill’s first day as Prime Minister, and wind our way through the ups and downs of the conflict to July 1945, when he returned home to hear the disastrous results of the General Election which found him in opposition and Clement Attlee Prime Minister. In a most poignant photograph taken after he’d heard the news, the disappointment is written all over his face, while his wife is smiling broadly over what she had told him was “a blessing in disguise.” We all know WSC’s instant rejoinder: “At the moment it appears quite effectively disguised.”

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Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004

Page 16



“Shocking and awful,” wrote Kevin Whitelaw in U.S. News for 17 May, about the horrific images of Iraq prisoner abuse. Blame us: Finest Hour helped verify the Churchill quotation deployed in his lead: “Eight decades ago, British commanders called in punishing air-strikes to put down a fierce insurrection in one of its most unruly colonies. After pumping money into Iraq to support a deeply unpopular occupation, Colonial Secretary Churchill was fed up. ‘We are paying 8 millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano, out of which we are in no circumstances to get anything worth having.’” The text of Churchill’s complaint, to David Lloyd George, is in “Wit & Wisdom,” page 37.

***

Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt were homophobes,” writes John Derbyshire in National Review Online for May 14th. With respect to Churchill we doubt this claim sticks. His longest friendship, with the homosexual Eddie Marsh, his private secretary and literary collaborator, lasted nearly fifty years. Marsh appears more frequently than anyone else in the Chartwell visitors’ book. When he died in 1953 Churchill, who seemed to outlive everybody, wrote: “He was a master of literature and scholarship and a deeply instructed champion of the arts. All his long life was serene, and he left this world, I trust, without a pang, and I am sure without a fear.”

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Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004

Page 44

By Bret Begun in Newsweek, 10 November 2003, reprinted by kind permission.



Winston Churchill was such a prolific speechwriter that Never Give In! accounts for only five percent of his oratory. Bret Begun talked with Winston Churchill: editor, grandson, and trustee of The Churchill Centre.

How did you select the speeches?
Thirty years ago—across 8,600 pages, in eight volumes in small print—The Complete Speeches was published. Nobody is going to buy eight volumes. I wanted something manageable. One could fill one volume with the best wartime speeches. But I had the idea to do a panorama: to start with his first speech, at the age of 22 in 1897, and go all the way to his last in 1963.

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Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004

Page 38

By Michael McMenamin

“Churchill for Dummies,” by Michael Lind, The Spectator, 24 April 2004
“The Real Churchill,” by Adam Young, Ludwig von Mises Institute (www.mises.org)



Winston Churchill in 2004 has once again come under attack from the right and the left—a not unfamiliar position. The new attacks both originate in America. Both are prompted by opposition to the war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, as well as the frequent invocation of Churchill’s words by American politicians who supported the war.

The left-wing attack, in The Spectator, was by Michael Lind, Whitehead Senior Fellow of the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. (www.newamerica.net) which claims its politics are “radical centrist.” The right-wing attack was posted on the website of the libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute (www.mises.org) on 27 February 2004 by Adam Young, “co-founder of The Resume Store, a Canadian-based service offering resumes and cover letters.”

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Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004

Page 43

By ROBERT DISQUE & NEWSWEEK

Franklin and Winston, by Jon Meacham, 512 pp., illus., published at $29.95, member price $22. Never Give In!: The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches, edited by his grandson Winston S. Churchill, 592 pp., illus., published at $27.95, member price $22. Order from Churchill Stores, c/o The Churchill Centre.



I loved the book. While many of the episodes (not all) are familiar to Churchillians, Meacham’s description of the interaction between the two men is fascinating: one cool, crafty and devious; the other emotional, loving, thoughtless of others (Churchill, keeping his people up all night but napping during the day while his staff worked.) Although they were so different personally, they loved each other and were as one with the objective: win the war. Thank God for them both.

I was born in 1926 and remember listening to my parents at the dinner table discussing Chamberlain and Munich. They were both interventionists, even though my father’s father was born in Germany, and two of his brothers were in the German-American Bund. There were times when they would argue, and I was terrified that it would come to blows. I joined the Navy at 17, serving aboard a destroyer. —Robert Disque

Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004

Page 28

By Elizabeth Olson

The Library of Congress Churchill Exhibit



While on a trip to New York in 1895, Winston Churchill, then 21, wrote to his brother: “This is a very great country, my dear Jack….Not pretty or romantic but great and utilitarian.”

His relationship with Americans, beginning with his American-born mother, Jennie Jerome, was cultivated over visits spanning most of his life, and helped make him the best-known and most popular British leader on the American side of the Atlantic. That “mutual love affair,” as his daughter Mary Soames calls it, was celebrated in the first comprehensive exhibition on Churchill in the United States. It opened February 5th at the Library of Congress, with major contributions by the Library and the Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, ran until mid-July, and is now on tour. The Churchill Centre in Washington supported the cost of the program book, and produced two academic symposia on the exhibit theme.

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Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004

Page 29

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES



I’m honored to join you as we welcome this magnificent collection to the Library of Congress. I’ve always been a great admirer of Sir Winston Churchill: of his career, of his strength, of his character—so much so that I keep a stern-looking bust of him in the Oval Office. He watches my every move. [Laughter]

Like few other men in this or any other age, Churchill is admired throughout the world. Through his writings and personal effects, we feel the presence of the great man himself. As people tour this exhibit, I’m sure they’ll be able to smell the whiskey and the cigars.

I appreciate Jim Billington for hosting this exhibit, and for hosting me. I appreciate the members of Winston Churchill’s family who have come: Lady Soames, who is a daughter; Winston Churchill, who bears a mighty name, and his wife, Luce; Celia Sandys, who is a granddaughter. Thank you all for coming. We’re honored to have you here in America.

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