Finest Hour 122

Education: Prime Objective of The Churchill Centre since 1988

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 41

By the Editor

We were somewhat bemused to hear recently an apparent newlydiscovered truth in some quarters that our main mission is education. The adjacent celebration of Sir Martin Gilbert’s Chicago Humanities lecture reminds me to note a fact that seems to have become obscure: that education, on Churchill, his life and times, and his example of leadership, has been our paramount goal for at least fifteen years.

It was to the Fifth International Churchill Conference, in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1988, that we first invited Churchill scholars. They were ecstatic that at last someone had provided a venue where they could meet, debate, exchange theories, and lecture on current Churchill historiography.

Since 1988 we have hosted conferences, lectures and seminars attended by hundreds of students, with many of them addressing the assembly; and seminars where students could converse directly with scholars, and tell us what they learned about Churchill. This resulted in some marvelous new insights that even our academics were pleased to admit they hadn’t considered.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Warmth and Sensitivity

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 42


Franklin and Winston, by John Meacham. Random House, 412 pp., $29.95, Member price $22.

Ton Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek, admits up front that he ventures here into well-trod territory. He honestly cites in the endnotes several of the many books about the Churchill-Roosevelt relationship, with many references to Sir Martin Gilbert’s official biography. He makes the case for book by asserting that the theme resonates with current relevance; that he writes for general readers, not scholars; that this was the most important friendship in modern times; and that “it does matter who is in power at critical points” (xvii). Those whose shelves already groan under the weight of books about Churchill, Roosevelt and their partnership may find little new; those new to the field will find a good overview, though the work does contain some errors and dubious suppositions, many of them occurring quite early.

Only eleven pages into the story the myth of Lord Randolph Churchill’s syphilitic death is passed off in an aside as gospel. (Be cheered: Geoffrey Best’s excellent recent study of Churchill did cite Dr. John Mather’s report in FH 93, which destroyed this canard.) Meacham also makes frequent references to Churchill’s drinking, with the innuendo that it was problematic; and there is a short psychoanalysis of Churchill’s short story The Dream which is stretched to conclude that the son’s relationship with his father prepared him for dealing with Roosevelt. One might suppose his relationship with such as Asquith, Baldwin and Lloyd George also prepared him.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – “The Unique Blend of Leadership”

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 41

Martin Gilbert at the Chicago Humanities Festival

The First Julie and Roger Baskes Lecture in History, by Sir Martin Gilbert CBE. Chicago Humanities Festival, 2 November 2003. This lecture series is designed to honor renowned British historians.

Sir Martin Gilbert, official biographer of Winston Churchill, lightheartedly began this sold-out lecture by saying that the title he had been asked to use—”The Unique Blend of Leadership Qualities That Enabled Churchill to Re-Emerge from the Political Wilderness to Become the Savior Of His Nation”—was the longest that had ever been submitted to him. Its length guaranteed, he said, “that whatever I say this afternoon, I have never said to any audience before.”

Indeed Gilbert did find fresh ways to tell a tale he has told often and well. He identified ten leadership advantages Churchill brought to Number Ten Downing Street in May 1940. Some were qualities and beliefs Churchill had carried from the beginning of his long political life, such as self-confidence, plod (the ability to outwork others), a firsthand knowledge and abhorrence of war, a steady advocacy of positive U.S.Britain relations, and a strong belief in a democratic society. Others were on-the-job skills that Churchill acquired through his long parliamentary career, notably a mastery of the legislative process and an ability to resolve problems without vindictiveness. The latter quality allowed Churchill to build an effective War Cabinet that included former political adversaries.
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Assessing Britain’s Overseas Options

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 40


Churchill and Strategic Dilemmas Before the World Wars: Essays in Honor of Michael I. Handel, edited by John H. Maurer. Frank Cass, 164 pp., $79.95 hardbound; $26.95 softbound. Member prices to be determined but less than these; contact the editor or executive director.

Readers may ask (as I did): who was Michael Handel? During the 1990s, we learn here, he was a highly respected teacher and scholar in strategy and policy—and Churchill admirer—at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Before he died in 2001, Handel had hoped to write a book on Churchill as a strategist. This is one of three volumes of essays (the other two focus on different aspects of strategy) published in his memory, assembled by his War College colleagues and based on a conference held there.

The anthology offers four scholarly papers: the book’s editor on ‘”The Ever Present Danger’: Churchill’s Assessment of the German Naval Challenge before the First World War”; Christopher Bell on “Pacific Security and the Limits of British Power, 19211941”; Brian McKercher on “The Limitations of the Politician-Strategist: Churchill and the German Threat, 1933-1939”; and David Jablonsky on “Churchill and Technology.” Each takes a different tack on Churchill and his changing role.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Sandys and Dobbs Strike Again

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 38


Churchill, by Celia Sandys. Contender, 160 pp., member price $35.
Never Surrender, by Michael Dobbs. HarperCollins, 344 pp., member price $37.
Neither book is published or officially sold in the United States.

Two authors responsible for the recent avalanche of books about Churchill are the great man’s granddaughter, Celia Sandys (her fifth), and the popular English political novelist, Michael Dobbs (his second, but more are coming). They take entirely different approaches, but each makes a useful contribution to our understanding.

Ms. Sandys, a self-confessed “non-revisionist,” presents positive though not hagiographic views, sometimes following well-trod paths but other times delivering new and different information. Her Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive retold her grandfather’s Boer War adventures, bringing in the perspectives of descendants of those who knew or met WSC during his South African days; her Chasing Churchill told much that we know about his travels, while providing insights into people and places the author herself revisited in his footsteps.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – An Essential Churchill Bibliography

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 37


Annotated Bibliography of Works About Sir Winston Churchill, by Curt J. Zoller. M.E. Sharpe, 384 pp., $75. Member price $60.

If you are a collector of books about Churchill, this new guide is an indispensable tool. Assembling any book-length bibliography is no easy task. I have published two, on very different topics, and can speak from experience. So I hugely respect the effort that went into this new Churchill bibliography—a substantial canon in anybody’s terms.

Curt Zoller needs no introduction to readers of Finest Hour, for he is a well-known collector and contributor to the journal. With the aid of Richard Langworth, Mark Weber, and other authorities, he has put together a comprehensive annotated guide for collectors and libraries of just what was published about Churchill, from the first article entries of 1900 (the first biography appeared five years later) right up to the last year or so.

Zoller divides his more than 2,500 citations into six sections, each of which is arranged and numbered in chronological order. Section A focuses on books devoted entirely to some aspect of Churchill’s life (684 of them); Section B concerns “books containing substantial data about Winston S. Churchill” (more than 900); Section C covers articles and lecture Read More >

APPRECIATION – to our indispensable and generous supporters

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 19


XL Capital Ltd. • XL Foundation Ltd.


Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. • Baccardi International • Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group Pic


David and Diane Boler • Nancy Canary • Adelaide Comegys • Marcus and Molly Frost • Michael B., Sr. & Margaret Gratz • Craig & Lorraine Horn • William & Virginia Ives • Gerald & Judy Kambestad • Richard & Barbara Langworth • Philip & Susan Larson • Richard A. & Posey Leahy • A. Wendell Musser • Charles S. & Betty T. Northen • Bob Packwood & Elaine Franklin • Charles D. & Linda L. Platt • John and Ruth Plumpton • David Ramsay • Daniel J. & Suzanne Sigman • Kathleen Utz • Paul E. Violette
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Ampersand – Dear Mr. Isaacson…

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 47

I attended a book event at The Eisenhower Center which featured Walter Isaacson, former editor of Time, speaking about his latest book, Benjamin Franklin. Of course I accosted him about Time’s cop-out choice of Einstein as “Person of the Century.” We had a friendly exchange which continued after his presentation. He was about to step into an elevator when I said to him that his very description of Benjamin Franklin applied exactly to Winston Churchill. He immediately jumped off the lift and, quite good naturedly, acknowledged that I could be correct—and that it had never occurred to him until that second! He then realized that he was about to fall into a lengthy conversation, gathered himself and got on another elevator as he loudly asked me to call him so that we could continue this conversation. I will do so!

Please do! Mr. Isaacson was a distinguished editor at Time, but its performance over its “Person of the Century” showed it to be hopelessly Politically Correct and out of touch with historical reality. (See “Time’s Long March to Person of the Century”, FH 105: 21, Winter 1999-2000.) So I didn’t bother to read his Franklin biography— who was not exactly PC.
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Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 46

Edited and annotated by Paul H. Courtenay

Question Time is that period in the Parliamentary week where Members are allowed to ask the Prime Minister any question, governed only by decorum and the judgment of the Speaker as to whether they are genuinely asking questions or (commonly) giving a speech. Churchill was a master of Question Time, as Mr. Courtenay demonstrates.


On 13 April 1943 a Member asked, “Is the Prime Minister aware that while he is using up his genius and undoubted energy in winning the war, the big industrialists and big financiers are taking care they win the peace? What is the Prime Minister going to do to prevent terrible disaster such as happened after the last war?” WSC: “A firm reliance on representative government and Parliamentary institutions, based on the operation of practically universal suffrage.”


On 1 April 1943 a Member urged that the conduct of the war against the German U-boats should be debated at an early date. WSC: “I should deprecate a discussion upon this subject, and even in Secret Session I should feel very much hampered in stating the full case. I must ask for a measure of confidence.”
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Wit and Wisdom

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 45

I came across this Churchill quotation in my Latin course book (Wheelock’s Latin, sixth edition, Harper Collins, p. xxv): “I would make them all learn English: and then I would let the clever ones learn Latin as an honour, and Greek as a treat.” But on your website (Action This Day; Youth 1874-1900, Autumn, 1989, Age 15), the quote reads as follows: “I would make them all learn English; and Greek as a treat.”

I plan to use the quotation during a speech on the importance of Latin in learning English. Can you tell me which version is correct?

—Hayriye Karliova,
Istanbul University,
Department of Latin Language and Literature

That is a very good observation, and your Latin book is right: our “Action This Day” writer omitted some words. The quotation comes from Churchill’s autobiography, My Early Life: A Roving Commission, first published in London and New York in 1930 and republished many times in many languages. It occurs on pages 30-31 of the first edition, where Churchill writes about his years at Harrow School. Because you are studying Latin and English, here is the full passage:
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Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 44

Churchill’s son Randolph intended each volume of the official biography to lead with a “theme, following the style of his father’s memoirs, The Second World War. The themes were omitted after Volume II, but Paul Courtenay recalls them from notes he made at the time.

A notable characteristic of Winston Churchill’s The Second World War is the theme assigned to each of the six volumes. These are all pithily and memorably expressed, almost without punctuation but arranged so as to emphasize the rhythm.

Curiously, while the Cassell English edition themes are all in capitals, the Houghton Mifflin American edition renders them in upper and lower case. Since the American version is more interesting, we reproduce its arrangement below.

I The Gathering Storm
How the English-speaking peoples
through their unwisdom,
carelessness, and good nature
allowed the wicked
to rearm
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Churchill Trivia

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 43

By Curt Zoller (

Questions concern Contemporaries (C), ‘Literary (L), Miscellaneous (M), Personal(P), Statesmanship (S) and War (W).

1399. Who said of Churchill: “One doesn’t often come across a real man of genius, or perhaps appreciate him when one does. Winston is such a man….To listen to him on the platform or in the House is sheer delight”? (C)

1400. What was the original proposed title of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples* (L)

1401. Who taught Classics and French, and was House Master and Army Class Master, when Churchill attended Harrow? (M)

1402. Where and when were Winston and Clementine married? (P)

1403. What new military equipment and facilities were incorporated into the USS Winston S. Churchill?. (S)
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Churchill the Peacemaker

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 33


Sometimes peace can only be achieved by risking war…

Some may find my title striking. Certainly I hope to play upon the perceived popular image of Churchill as war leader to focus attention on less well-known aspects of his long career. Let me begin, however, by noting that I do not intend to engage in what Truman biographer Alonzo Hamby has described as “the ultimate conceit,” that is, presuming to speak to how one’s biographical subject would judge current events. Rather, my intention is to illustrate what Churchill did do during his own life to prevent or defuse situations that threatened to escalate into conflict, and what resulted. Such examples may serve to guide us today and in the future. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions as to how they may apply.

Churchill brought nothing less than the Olympian abilities to every task he undertook. The man who famously remarked, “never maltreat the enemy by halves,” gave as much of himself to waging peace as he ever did to waging war. Indeed, if more people had shared Churchill’s views on preventing war, much of the sorrow of the past century might have been avoided. The great paradox of Churchill’s career is that he is best known for his performance in conflicts he sought to avoid, brought about by people who thought they knew better than he did.
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English-Speaking Peoples: 2) We must be united, we must be undaunted, and we must be inflexible

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 30


I had intended to talk tonight about Churchill’s literary career, but here in New York, where I grew up and worked for many years, it is hard to think about anything except what happened two years ago a few blocks away. So I thought I would reflect on how Churchill’s experience and words may or may not apply today. That is what The Churchill Centre is in business to do, especially in its work with young people: not to pronounce what he would do in today’s situation, but to get people thinking in the ways he did.

For weeks after 9/11, from the White House to the Worldwide Web, Seattle to Sri Lanka, The Churchill Centre was kept busy finding quotations. What did Churchill say in similar circumstances? What effect did it have? Is it appropriate now?

Churchill remarked in the House of Commons after the 1938 Munich agreement bought temporary peace at the expense of Czechoslovakia, “I will begin by saying the most unpopular thing.” So here is another unpopular thing: we are not united. Some assure us that we brought these calamities on ourselves, that we have no plan. Others inflexibly defend the plan in place. Is Iraq part of the war on terrorism, or isn’t it? We must not say what Churchill would do, but I think it is fair to suggest that he would be saddened over our disunity, our lack of clarity about our objectives.
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English-Speaking Peoples: Churchillian Aspects of the Current Problem – 1) “Never Despair”

Finest Hour 122, Spring 2004

Page 28


We can tell that we are at war because the incidence of quotations of Winston Churchill has risen. It is because we do not recur to him enough when we are at peace that we are so often at war.

The current conflict is a serious one. We can best understand the danger we face from thinking a little about some points that were common over many decades in Churchill’s thinking about war.

Begin with the fact that we have been attacked with devastating effect at home. The taking of civilian casualties is always a sign of effectiveness in an enemy and danger to a polity. It is after all the function of military forces in any just society to protect the civilian population from harm. From this point of view we have been attacked more seriously than at any time in our history. Our enemies are both feverish in their hatred of us and calculating, to varying degrees, in their methods.
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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.