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Finest Hour 169

Finest Hour 169, Summer 2015

Page 36

By Michael McMenamin


ATD-Label

125 Years Ago

Spring 1890 • Age 15

“I Will Get Papa to Get You a Gun and a Pony”


On 10 July 1890, Winston received a letter from J. W. Spedding, the Secretary of the London Habitation of the Primrose League, enclosing his diploma as a “knight” of the League. Spedding explained that, since he was resigning as Secretary, Churchill was likely “the last member I will make. I am proud to add such an illustrious name to the register.”

The Primrose League was founded in 1883—ostensibly named after Benjamin Disraeli’s favorite flower—to “support…the Conservative Cause” and “to fight for free enterprise.” Lord Randolph Churchill was instrumental in its founding and held the Number 1 membership card. At the insistence of his wife and mother, women were full members. The full members— knights and dames—paid annual dues of half a crown and associate members a few pence. In 1890, when Churchill became a member, there were a total of 910,852 members, including more than 60,000 knights and 48,000 dames. Twenty years later, the League had more than two million members.

Seven years after he became a member, Churchill gave his first political speech to the Bath Habitation of the Primrose League on 26 July 1897.

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Finest Hour 169, Summer 2015

Page 42

Review by Erica L. Chenoweth

Isaiah Friedman, British Miscalculations: The Rise of Muslim Nationalism, 1918–1925.
Transaction Publishers, 2012, 394 pages, $59.95.
ISBN 978-1412847490



British MiscalculationsWith the centenary of the First World War and continued tumult in the Middle East, Isaiah Friedman’s British Miscalculations: The Rise of Muslim Nationalism, 1918–1925, is a timely read. Friedman, a professor emeritus at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University and author of two other books on the region, briskly but thoroughly covers these fateful years.

Friedman’s scholarship sharpens our picture of the dark, complex, and exciting times after the Great War. In his own account of these events, The Aftermath, Churchill wrote that “statesmen in crisis…have often to take fateful decisions without knowing a very large proportion of the essential facts.” With a cascade of memoranda, telegrams, letters, speeches, and other primary sources, Friedman shows how much was missing in the muddled handling of freshly-occupied regions by uncomprehending actors, both generals and statesmen.

Friedman focuses on Britain’s relations with the Ottoman Empire during and after the First World War, especially the new state of Turkey, but also touches on other predominantly Islamic regions, including Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Palestine, and Afghanistan. He argues that Britain and the Allies might have crafted a more friendly peace between themselves and the Middle East but for opportunities missed or mishandled.

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Finest Hour 169, Summer 2015

Page 41

Review by Erica L. Chenoweth

Erica L. Chenoweth is a fisheries biologist at the Gene Conservation Laboratory of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. She co-edited a new edition of Great Contemporaries (ISI Books, 2012) and serves as research assistant for several forthcoming editions of Churchill’s works.

Alison Carlson, The Man Within: Winston Churchill—An Intimate Portrait, Inkshares, 2015, 224 pages. Ebook (Epub & Kindle), $21.00; hardcover, $50.00 (free shipping and ebook included).
ISBN 978-1941758196



The Man WithinThousands of words have been spilt in “the world of paper and ink” about Winston Churchill, but a good photograph may be worth as much as many of them. The photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson laments in The Mind’s Eye, “we cannot develop and print a memory” (27). So when, in England, Alison Carlson searched in vain for a souvenir book that married images of the great man with his words, she felt compelled to act.

To prevent the anguish of having her vision mangled by an overly intrusive publisher, Carlson sought out Inkshares, Inc., an independent, crowd-funded startup company in her home town of San Francisco. The result is The Man Within: Winston Churchill— An Intimate Portrait, a compelling showcase of 140 lesser-known black-and-white photographs of the great man across all phases of his life. It has been designated as the official commemorative book of The Churchill Centre on the fiftieth anniversary of his death, and a percentage of royalties from its purchase goes to the Centre and other Churchill organizations.

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Finest Hour 169, Summer 2015

Page 44

Review by John Campbell

Giles Radice, Odd Couples: The Great Political Pairings of Modern Britain, I.B.Tauris, 292 pages, £25.
ISBN 978-1780762807



Odd CouplesSince stepping down as a Labour MP in 2001, Giles Radice has made something of a corner in group biographies of British politicians, with perceptive studies first of the rivalry of Roy Jenkins, Denis Healey, and Tony Crosland; then of the five leading figures of the 1945–51 Labour government (Attlee, Bevin, Morrison, Dalton, and Cripps) and of the three architects of New Labour (Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and Peter Mandelson). His latest covers some of the same ground by looking at seven pairs of rivals who set their differences aside to work constructively together in government. It is an attractive way of repackaging some familiar history, but the difficulty lies in finding an overarching theme to bind the case studies together.

Radice’s answer is that successful government usually depends on a partnership between an “initiator” and a “facilitator.” This works well enough with some of his pairings—with Harold Macmillan and R. A. Butler in the 1950s, or Margaret Thatcher and Willie Whitelaw in the 1980s—where the Prime Minister’s defeated rival genuinely accepted the role of loyal deputy. The experience of Blair and Brown can also be said to make this case, in that the Blair government was pretty successful so long as Brown accepted his subordinate role but began to fall apart as he became increasingly impatient to take over.

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Finest Hour 169, Summer 2015

Page 48

Review by Barbara Langworth

Mrs. Langworth published selections from the original edition of Recipes from No. 10, edited and annotated for the modern kitchen with the help of Lady Soames, in Finest Hour 95–115.

Georgina Landemare, Churchill’s Cookbook London: Imperial War Museum, 176 pages, £9.99 / $20.
ISBN 978-1904897736



Churchills CookbookIt is 14 October 1940. London is being attacked. Churchill is dining with friends at 10 Downing Street. When a bomb hits Horse Guards Parade, Churchill has a “providential impulse.” He goes to the kitchen and prevails upon the cook, Mrs. Landemare, and the other servants to go to a shelter.  He returns to the table only to hear a crash and realizes the house has been struck. Returning to the kitchen with his detective, they find deadly fragments of a large plate-glass window that has been blown to bits in a debris-strewed room.

With this dramatic scene Phil Reed, director of the Churchill War Rooms, introduces us to Georgina Landemare, the Churchills’ indomitable cook. Raised in Tring, Hertfordshire, she had been a kitchen maid in manor houses before marrying the well-known French chef Paul Landemare. From him she learned the fine art of cooking and after his death in 1932 became a much-desired cook for banquets and parties at homes of the Good and the Great. Hired at Chartwell for weekend house parties, she consistently impressed Clementine Churchill and the rest of the family with her delicious food and elegant presentations.

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Finest Hour 169, Summer 2015

Page 40

Review by Anne Sebba

Anne Sebba is the author of American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady Randolph Churchill (2008) and is currently writing Les Parisiennes: How Women Lived, Loved and Died in Paris from 1939-49 for publication in 2016.

Sonia Purnell, First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill, London: Aurum Press.
400 pages, £25.00.
ISBN 978-1781313060



Sonia PurnellIn the winter of 1940–41, shortly after the British had sunk the French fleet off Mers-el-Kebir, the newly exiled leader of the Free French, Charles de Gaulle, was a luncheon guest at Downing Street. When the subject arose of how to prevent the remaining French fleet from falling into German hands, Clementine Churchill said she hoped it would support the British effort to defeat the Nazis, whereupon de Gaulle replied that it would give the French more satisfaction to turn their guns on the British. Clementine was outraged and said so, and although Winston tried, diplomatically, to smooth over the outburst, she was not placated.

“Winston, it’s not that at all,” she continued in her impeccable French. “There are certain things that a woman can say to a man which a man cannot say and I am saying them to you, General de Gaulle.” The Frenchman apologised and the following day sent his hostess a large bouquet of flowers. This exchange, well into the latter half of their marriage, is a powerful example of Clementine’s earnest intelligence and noble sentiment, qualities which earned her Winston’s respect

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Finest Hour 169, Summer 2015

Page 46

Review by Antoine Capet

Will Morrisey, Churchill and de Gaulle: The Geopolitics of Liberty. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. x + 435 pages, $85.00.
ISBN 978-1442241190



Churchill and DeGaulleThere are many books of the Churchill and… variety, but on this topic Will Morrisey’s offering has only one important predecessor, François Kersaudy’s “old” Churchill and de Gaulle. Kersaudy’s monograph set very high standards, and Morrisey, Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College, therefore faced a difficult task.

Morrisey’s angle of attack is spelled out in his subtitle, The Geopolitics of Liberty. The introduction explains what he means by this—not an easy task, since it leads him into complex discussions of political philosophy, notably on the nature of the State: a guarantor or an enemy of liberty? For him, though—as for his two protagonists—there is no doubt: there can be no liberty without a strong State. He puts it vividly, “if your state fails, you won’t have Utopia but Afghanistan” (2). Having established that Churchill and de Gaulle were equally convinced of this, Morrisey justifies his use of “geopolitics” by pointing out the constraints which geography had always imposed on their countries.

Thus we have not simply another account of the personal relations between the two war leaders—though of course the book repeatedly alludes to them—but a discussion of how Churchill and de Gaulle did their best to further the political ideals in which they believed in the face of hostile forces, both geopolitical adversaries and unconvinced fellow-citizens and allies.

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Finest Hour 169, Summer 2015

Page 47

Review by Antoine Capet

Antoine Capet is Professor Emeritus of British Studies at the University of Rouen.

Frédéric Ferney, «Tu seras un raté, mon fils!» Churchill et son père. Paris: Éditions Albin Michel, 2015, 261 pages, €17.00.
ISBN 978-2226312594



tu SerasThis strange book, whose title could be translated as “You Will Be a Failure, My Son!” Churchill and His Father, can be viewed from at least three angles: that of the French general public for whom it seems to be primarily intended, that of Freudians, and that of Finest Hour readers. This last group will not learn much, if anything, and will deplore the factual errors (Churchill did not reside in Chartwell during the Second World War; in London his last house was not in Hyde Park Street) and unsubstantiated claims (it has never been conclusively established that Lord Randolph died of syphilis), as well as the scatological double entendre on “the toilets” and “his initials: WC.” Ferney is obviously not familiar with the celebrated “WSC” embroidered slippers.

The format is unusual in that each chapter is preceded by a variable number of paragraphs in italics that provide context: in these, the author abstains from formulating personal theories, and it is here that French readers will get useful information about Churchill’s life. But then, there are far better Churchill biographies on offer for the French public, notably those of François Kersaudy (Winston Churchill: le pouvoir de l’imagination, 2009) and the late François Bédarida (Churchill, 1999). In his very short bibliography, Ferney indicates that he drew some of his inspiration “from [Churchill’s] most lucid and most conscientious biographer, William Manchester,” a highly debatable statement. None of Sir Martin Gilbert’s seminal books is cited, not even the Official Biography.

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Finest Hour 169, Summer 2015

Page 38

Review by Lee Pollock

Lee Pollock is Executive Director of The Churchill Centre.

Churchill: When Britain Said No
Susan Jones and Nicholas Kent,
Executive Producers
Christopher Spencer,
Producer and Director
Produced by Oxford Film and BBC2, first aired 25 May 2015



Scene from the BBC’s “When Britain Said No”Scene from the BBC’s “When Britain Said No”The fiftieth anniversary earlier this year of the death of Winston Churchill produced an international wave of commemoration and a panoply of articles, books, conferences, and programs. Churchill remains among the most widely admired—and most regularly quoted—political figures of the past century.

While Churchill’s role in history will be legitimately analyzed for centuries, there is a class of Churchill-bashers (more politely “revisionists”) for whom the adulation of the last few months (and decades) cannot pass without a spirited answer. And where better to do this than on Britain’s state-owned broadcast network, the BBC?

The revisionists’ first salvo was a small blast in January. Jeremy Paxman’s otherwise fine program about the state funeral in 1965, Churchill: The Nation’s Farewell [reviewed in FH 167], made the nonsensical allegation that all dockworkers hated Churchill.

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Finest Hour 169, Summer 2015

Page 45

Review by Alonzo Hamby

Alonzo L. Hamby is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Ohio University and author of Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman, published in 1995 by Oxford University Press.

Michael Neiberg, Potsdam: The End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe. New York: Basic Books, 2015. Pp. xiv, 310, $29.99.
ISBN 978-0465075256



PotsdamPerhaps the most impressive achievement of Michael Neiberg’s absorbing book is its description of what the Germans now call Stunde Null (“Zero Hour”). At the end of World War II, much of Germany was in ruins and in a state of social and political collapse, nowhere more so than in the eastern region, overrun by a Red Army that destroyed almost everything in its path and pursued a sanctioned campaign of rape. Much of what remained—from works of art to railroad rolling stock—was systematically looted as “war booty” by the Soviets, who claimed that their expropriations should not be counted against the reparations the Germans would have to pay. Berlin was a vast pile of rubble, but its most famous upscale suburb, Potsdam, had been largely bypassed. It was here that the Big Three leaders of the victorious Allies—Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, and Joseph Stalin—staged the final summit meeting of the global conflict and, however unwittingly, laid the basis for a nascent Cold War.

Mr. Neiberg, who holds the Henry L. Stimson Chair of History and Security Studies at the Army War College, attempts a rough analogy between the Potsdam meeting and the post-World War I Versailles conference, which had redrawn the map of Europe. It does not quite work. Versailles was a three-and-a-half month slog that produced a formal peace treaty and established an international organization, the League of Nations. In July 1945, the birth of a successor organization, the United Nations, was already moving along separately and satisfactorily. Most of the discussion at Potsdam was about matters already agreed upon at the Yalta conference—zones of military occupation, reparations, Soviet entry into the war against Japan. Why, one might wonder, could the details not be handled by a council of foreign ministers?

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