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Finest Hour 168


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Finest Hour 168, Spring 2015

Page 49

On Tuesday, 21 April, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City,  The Churchill Centre presented the 2015 Churchill Leadership Award  to former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  She was introduced by Churchill Centre Chairman Laurence Geller  and former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. American journalist  Tom Brokaw acted as Master of Ceremonies. We produce her speech in full.

150421-0963I am deeply moved to be given an award named for a leader whom I have always revered, by an organization that has done so much to promote his legacy here in the United States and around the world. I am also delighted to be in the presence this evening of Randolph Churchill, Edwina Sandys, and so many other friends and supporters of the Centre—including David Miliband. David, thank you for your remarks, and for your tireless efforts on behalf of the world’s refugees. I am proud to call you my friend.

The size of tonight’s crowd reminds me of the time that Winston Churchill was asked, “Doesn’t it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech, the hall is packed to overflowing?” “It’s quite flattering,” Churchill replied, “but whenever I feel this way, I always remember that if instead of making a speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.”

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Finest Hour 168, Spring 2015

Page 31

By Michael McMenamin

ATD125 Years ago

Spring 1890 • Age 15

“I Had Built up Such Hopes about You”

In early June, Lady Randolph sent the most disapproving letter young Winston ever received from her. After telling her son she would not be coming down to see him at Harrow (“I have so many things to arrange about the Ascot party next week that I cannot manage it”), she got straight to the point.

Your report, which I enclose is as you see a very bad one. You work in such a fitful inharmonious way that you are bound to come out last…. Dearest Winston, you make me very unhappy—I had built up such hopes about you & felt so proud of you—and now all is gone…your work is an insult to your intelligence. If you would only trace out a plan of action for yourself & carry it out & be determined to do so—I am sure you could accomplish anything you wished. It is that thoughtlessness of yours which is your greatest enemy….

His mother’s letter greatly distressed Winston (“My own Mummy I can tell you your letter cut me up very much.”) but he owned up to the gist: “I will not try to excuse myself for not working hard, because I know that what with one thing and another, I have been rather lazy.” He assured her, however, that all was not lost: “[T]here is plenty of time to the end of term and I will do my very best in what remains.”

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Finest Hour 168, Spring 2015

Page 42

Brian A. Dementi, Churchill & Eisenhower Together Again, Dementi Milestone Publishing, 200 pages, $40. Available from www. dementimilestonepublishing.com

Review by David Freeman

This large, handsome, and lavishly illustrated new book brings together photographs and memories of Winston Churchill’s triumphant post-war visit to historic Williamsburg, Virginia, in the company of his wife and General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Churchill had just returned with President Truman from Fulton, Missouri, where he delivered the famous “Iron Curtain” speech. After a brief rest in Washington, Churchill set off by railway with his wife Clementine in the private coach of the President of the United States, bound for Richmond. Joining them was the victorious Supreme Commander Allied Forces Europe, Gen. Eisenhower. In the state capitol, Churchill and Eisenhower both addressed the Virginia General Assembly.

From Richmond the party made the one-hour train ride to Williamsburg, where Churchill and Ike were driven about the city in a horse-drawn carriage. At the Raleigh Tavern, the women in the party took tea in the Apollo Room, while the men assembled in the Tap Room for Scotch and soda. The capstone of the visit was a banquet at the Williamsburg Inn hosted by John D. Rockefeller III, whose father was responsible for the restoration of the famous colonial city.

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Finest Hour 168, Spring 2015

Page 38

Jonathan Schneer, Ministers at War: Winston Churchill and his War Cabinet, Basic Books,  320 pages, $29.99/$34.50 (Can).

Review by Mark Klobas

MinistersThough Winston Churchill stands today as the man who led Britain to victory in the Second World War, the nature of the British political system meant that he did not do so alone. Running the nation during wartime was a team effort requiring the assistance of some of the most able figures from across the political spectrum. One of Churchill’s responsibilities as prime minister was ensuring that this group of talented individuals worked in relative harmony towards their common goal.

Jonathan Schneer seeks to explain how Churchill accomplished this task. Borrowing openly from the approach adopted by Doris Kearns Goodwin in her study of Abraham Lincoln’s administration, Team of Rivals, Schneer describes Churchill’s ongoing efforts to keep his Cabinet members in harness throughout the war, something we see was no easy task.

From the start of the coalition formed in May 1940, Churchill faced a cabinet composed of many men hostile to his presence. Party loyalty was of little help to him, as many of the men most skeptical of his ascension were members of his own party. Most of these men were ardent supporters of Neville Chamberlain, and they felt that Churchill lacked steadiness for the top job. The preferred successor for these men was the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, whom Schneer argues was waiting in the wings to replace Churchill should the new Prime Minister falter. Rivals indeed.

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Finest Hour 168, Spring 2015

Page 42

Kevin Donnelly, Taming the Black Dog, Australian eBook Publisher, 2013, 100 pages, $10.99 AUD. ISBN: 9781925029666

Review by Harry Atkinson

Black DogWhen asked to review this book, I felt apprehensive. I expected it to be another long-winded screed about depression and Churchill’s supposed struggles with his Black Dog. I was surprised to find instead a short and thought-provoking autobiography about a man from less-than-normal beginnings struggling through life’s hardships and how this prepared him for an even greater challenge: dealing with the death of his son.

Dr. Kevin Donnelly graduated from La Trobe University in 1974 and has been teaching in Australia for the past 20 years. He is a controversial figure in Australian educational circles due to his ardent conservative values and belief that the Australian school system has been hijacked by leftists. Donnelly attributes his conservatism to growing up the son of an alcoholic father who belonged to the Australian Communist Party. Donnelly’s mother also suffered from alcoholism and was a victim of domestic violence. 

The book was written as a guide to help others who are suffering with grief, loss and hardship—factors often associated with serious depression and illness. The author takes you on a journey through his life as a young boy, a teenager, a man, and finally through the unbearable pain of a grieving father.

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Finest Hour 168, Spring 2015

Page 41

Nigel Hamilton, The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941 to 1942. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. $30.00/$24.00

Review by Richard A. McConnell

Hamilton“The American unknown soldier who lies here did not give his life in the fields of France merely to defend his American home for the moment that was passing. He gave it that his family, his neighbors, and all his fellow Americans might live in peace in the days to come. His hope was not fulfilled.”

These remarks, taken from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier shortly after the US invasion of North Africa in 1942, give insight into the kind of leader who piloted the United States through the Second World War.

Having served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the First World War, FDR was determined to learn from and avoid repeating the mistakes of that conflict. Nigel Hamilton provides an engaging description of how the President masterfully established relationships, built coalitions, and established the conditions for an enduring peace, all while grappling with what it means to be the Commander-in-Chief.

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Finest Hour 168, Spring 2015

Page 40

Timothy Heppell, The Tories From Winston Churchill to David Cameron Bloomsbury, 216 pages, $104.50, Kindle $20.22

Review by William John Shepherd

HeppellA politics professor at Leeds University studies the postwar Tories in a book without illustrations and one of the most outrageous prices we have seen. Heppell offers a good index and an impressive bibliography, though readers should note the use of in-text references listed parenthetically, as opposed to standard footnotes or endnotes.

Heppell examines electoral strategies, governing approaches, and ideological thought of the Conservative Party over five postwar periods. The first (1945–64) involved successful adaptation of the non-ideological “one-nation” strategy after the Second World War, with an orientation to the state and appeal to median voters. The Edward Heath era (1964–75) was characterized by failure of statecraft, as Tories were unable to dominate political debate or demonstrate governing competence.  The Thatcher era (1975–92) embraced the free market while moving away from the state, taking advantage of disarray in the rival Labour Party and winning four successive general elections. The post-Thatcher phase includes includes the John Major government (1992–97) and opposition years (1997–2005), including three devastating electoral defeats at the hands of Tony Blair’s revamped “New Labour.”  The fifth and current period, following Blair and his successor Gordon Brown, is David Cameron’s “Big Society” strategy, combining Thatcherite skepticism towards the European Union with a liberal social outlook.

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Finest Hour 168, Spring 2015

Page 43

Thomas Kielinger, Winston  Churchill, Der Späte Held. C.H. Beck, 2015. €24.95

Review by Alan Watson

KielingerThomas Kielinger has been doing his best to explain the British to the Germans since 1998, when he became the London correspondent of the powerful German newspaper Die Welt. He has now decided to explain the Churchill phenomenon to the Germans, a daring venture, since most Germans who know about Churchill focus entirely on his role in defying Hitler in 1940 and his subsequent leadership of Britain through the Second World War. A smaller number of them are aware of Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech at Fulton, Missouri, and even fewer know of his speech six months later in Zurich, Switzerland, in which he startled his audience by calling for a partnership between France and Germany to lead Europe’s economic revival and moral regeneration.

Kielinger tells a much richer and more complex tale that embraces Churchill’s youth, his adventures as a journalist and a soldier—in particular as a lieutenant in the Fourth Hussars, his spectacular escape from imprisonment by the Boers in Pretoria, his early-established celebrity status, his entry into parliament, his time as a trade minister, and then his decisive role in the first two years of the First World War in charge of the Admiralty but culminating catastrophically in the Dardanelles Campaign.

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Finest Hour 168, Spring 2015

Page 37

Review by Anne Sebba

Andrew Morton, 17 Carnations: The Windsors, the Nazis and the Cover-Up, London: Michael O’Mara Books, £20.00 and New York: Grand Central Publishing, $28.00/$22.40

andrew morton 3238407aSurely, not another book about the abdication, I hear you groan? Is there really anything more to say about the Windsors and the one-sided love story that offered a solution to this crisis?

And here I must declare an interest. Having recently written a book about Wallis Simpson myself, I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked that same question. Equally, I am aware of the perennial fascination with the story of the handsome king who gave up his throne to marry a twice-divorced American of no particular beauty. How to explain it?  So I was eager to read this new book by Andrew Morton, the journalist who wrote about Diana, Princess of Wales—Her True Story in Her Own Words—changing forever the way the world perceived her relationship to the Prince of Wales as well as the way the world now looks at the royal family. Could he pull off the same trick again with an earlier Prince of Wales?

Morton’s new book begins with a longish section retelling the story of the young Prince’s early life, his racy dress sense, his heavy drinking and smoking and above all his improper dalliances and threats of suicide. Then there is the familiar tale of his first serious love affair, that with Freda Dudley Ward where Morton observes Winston Churchill responding to the prince “like a surrogate son” and Churchill’s comment that “It is quite pathetic to see the Prince and Freda. His love is so obvious and undisguisable.” Then we learn about the arrival of Wallis and Ernest Simpson in London and how they

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Finest Hour 168, Spring 2015

Page 45

Review by Antoine Capet

Pierre Assouline (ed.) À la recherche de Winston Churchill. Collection Tempus. Paris : Perrin, 2015. Paper. 159 pp. ISBN 978-2262049126. €7.00 (Kindle €7.95).

AssoulineThis reissue in the budget- priced Tempus series of a collection of essays first published in 2011 is most welcome. The origin of the publication is a radio program on the highbrow public station France-Culture, which was broadcast in July 2010. The format was a series of debates between a number of British and French historians moderated by Pierre Assouline, a well-known media figure and author in France. I remember listening and am pleased to see that the book version forms a near-complete verbatim transcript of the discussions. The only additions are very useful footnotes, giving references to the books cited, and a general preface by the editor.

That preface offers a very short survey of the biographical literature with the not unexpected conclusion that it was the events of 1940 that “made” him. Most of Assouline’s introduction is rightly devoted to a re-assessment of Churchill’s standing in the world today. A very unusual—and most welcome—line of attack for what largely remains an intractable problem is that Assouline cites media other than books, film, radio, and television: he points to the success of unconventional ways of celebrating the Great Man, on Twitter, on Facebook, and a “Churchillisms” app for iPhone.  In other words, interest in Churchill is not confined to older people.

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