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Finest Hour 174

Finest Hour 174, Autumn 2016

Page 47

Edwina Sandys, Winston Churchill: A Passion for Painting, Donning, 2015, 128 pages, $49.95. ISBN 978–1681840109


Sandys copy copyWhat I love about this book is the love within it. Edwina Sandys is not only a granddaughter of Sir Winston, she is herself a professional artist. “People frequently ask me if my grandfather was a good painter,” she recalls. “I always answer emphatically ‘YES!’ He was good because he painted the things he loved.”

We have had important books about Churchill as a painter before, most notably those by his daughter Mary, his granddaughter-in-law Minnie Churchill, and the leading authority on Churchill canvasses David Coombs. This newest volume must be considered another essential element in the library about Churchill the artist.

The impetus for Winston Churchill: A Passion for Painting was a wonderful exhibit of Churchill canvasses put on with the support of the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, and displayed at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis. Timothy Riley, paintings curator at Fulton, put the exhibit together and provides the information about each painting reproduced in this book. An interesting detail includes a list of all the exhibits each canvas has appeared in before.

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Finest Hour 174, Autumn 2016

Page 44

Kevin Ruane, Churchill and the Bomb in War and Cold War, Bloomsbury, 2016, 402 pages, $34.95. ISBN 978–1472523389

Review by Christopher Sterling

Chris Sterling, recently retired after thirty-five years of teaching and administration at George Washington University, is a frequent reviewer for Finest Hour.


BombOne of those relatively rare academic writers who can make document-based research both readable and interesting (and I say that as a retired academic), Kevin Ruane takes his readers back to the 1940–55 era of rapid atomic and thermonuclear weapon development to illustrate just how dominant fear of the bomb was in policymaking circles. He centers his history on the socalled “special relationship” between the US and Britain, though for much of this period, “special” meant precious little, as the British quickly learned.

Following by only three years Graham Farmelo’s well-received Churchill’s Bomb: How the United States Overtook Britain in the First Nuclear Arms Race (Basic Books, 2013) [Reviewed in FH 162], Ruane had a difficult task on his hands. The two British authors take a different approach to their accounts of the same period and people. For one thing, Farmelo is a physicist, while Ruane is an historian. The differences in their studies build on the authors’ academic training by emphasizing different aspects of the complex story. Briefly, Farmelo focuses more on the scientists who did the work while, Ruane centers his study on Churchill himself.

Ruane sees Churchill as playing three related yet quite different roles: the “bomb-maker” during the Second World War; the “atomic diplomatist” during the decade after 1945; and the “nuclear peacemaker” toward the end of his second period as prime minister (1951– 55). His well-written study melds Churchill and key figures close to him—Frederick Lindemann (the “Prof” as the simplifier of complex technologies), Anthony Eden (frustrated by years of waiting for Churchill to retire), Sir John Anderson (chief official of the British “tube alloys” research), Roosevelt (the American president with on-again, off-again views on working with the British in tube alloys), and many others on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Finest Hour 174, Autumn 2016

Page 45

David Cannadine, Heroic Chancellor: Winston Churchill and the University of Bristol, 1919–65, Institute of Historical Research, 2016, 78 pages, $15. ISBN 978-1909646186

Review by Christopher Sterling


Heroic ChancellorOf the many “Churchill and...” or “The Untold Story of...” titles, this brief book really is an untold story of one aspect of Churchill’s life few of us know. A man who never attended university, Churchill served as chancellor of the University of Bristol for the last thirty-six years of his life. This booklet is based on a lecture Sir David Cannadine delivered in observance of the half-century anniversary of Churchill’s death.

A word of background for those used to American university practice: in Britain, a university chancellor normally plays only a ceremonial role (as when conferring honorary degrees at graduation, for example), rather than being a fulltime, active administrator. Further, in Churchill’s time an appointment as a university chancellor was typically held for life. This is no longer the case at Bristol, which leaves Churchill the university’s longest-serving chancellor and likely to remain so.

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Finest Hour 174, Autumn 2016

Page 48

Colin Holmes, Searching for Lord Haw-Haw: The Political Lives of William Joyce, Routledge, 2016, 494 pages, $24.95/£14.98. ISBN 978-1138888869

Review by Mark Klobas

Mark Klobas teaches history at Scottsdale College in Arizona and hosts a podcast for the New Books Network.


haw hawDuring the Second World War, millions of Britons tuned in regularly to the radio broadcasts from Reichssender Hamburg, the English-language propaganda station operated by Nazi Germany. The network’s leading broadcaster was “Lord Haw-Haw,” who nightly rattled listeners with his seeming omniscience about events in Britain and his confident predictions of German victory. Though the sobriquet was applied to nearly all of the British broadcasters working for the Germans, it was most frequently associated with William Joyce, who for his activities on behalf of the Nazis was arrested after the war, tried for treason, and executed by the British—the last person in British history to be put to death for that crime.

Joyce’s life was layered throughout with conflict and mystery, much of it generated by Joyce himself. One of the achievements of Colin Holmes’s new book is in the extent to which he unravels many of these mysteries using the available sources. To that end, the author engaged in years of research, interviewing many of the people who knew Joyce and researching recently declassified documents in archives throughout Britain as well as abroad. The result is a book that offers us our best understanding yet of the circumstances of Joyce’s life and the factors that led him to become both a fascist and a servant of the Third Reich.

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Finest Hour 174, Autumn 2016

Page 06

By Terry Reardon

Terry Reardon is the author of Winston Churchill and Mackenzie King: So Similar and So Different (2012).


Canadian Parliament
The Victorian era was the zenith of the British Empire. It was then the superpower of the world holding sway over 300 million people, one-quarter of the world’s population.

Winston Churchill was born into the upper class, and his formative years were steeped in the belief of the greatness and righteousness of the British Empire, upon which the sun never slept. This romantic view of Britain’s position in the world remained constant all through his life.

But being a member of the upper class did not necessarily mean an upper income, and it certainly did not in the case of Winston Churchill. Thus he took full advantage of the international reputation he had earned by way of his exploits and heroics in the Boer War by embarking on a lecture tour of Britain and then North America.

He arrived in New York on 8 December 1900 and spoke in ten cities. In the United States he had faced audiences often in sympathy with the Boers; thus he was relieved when he crossed the border into Canada, where he was greeted by enthusiastic throngs—he spoke in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto on the theme “The War as I Saw It.” The Toronto Globe reported that every seat in the vast hall was occupied and that Churchill possessed a vein of humour, upon which he drew with excellent effect.

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Finest Hour 174, Autumn 2016

Page 04

By David Freeman, November 2016



Winston Churchill crossed the Atlantic more times than most people did before the age of jet travel. His connections with North America spanned his whole life from his first visit at the age of twenty to his last visit more than sixty years later. Many of these trips involved stops in both Canada and the United States—for both nations were tremendously important in his worldview.

Terry Reardon outlines Churchill’s evolving views about the Great Dominion and how it insistently challenged his understanding about the relationship between Britain and an Empire that was becoming a Commonwealth. How Churchill first began to profit from his North American connections is explained by Bradley Tolppanen, while Elizabeth Churchill Snell traces the Churchills’ early family history, how it crossed the Atlantic—and how it returned.

If Churchill’s imperial world remained largely centered on London, it still included room for imperial thought and strategy. Andrew Stewart explains that Churchill was the driving force behind the creation of the Imperial Defence College, or the Royal College of Defence Studies, as it has since become known.

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