Roberts (Napoleon: A Life) serves up an extraordinary biography of Winston Churchill. A resolutely pro-British empire “child of the Victorian era” who was emotionally neglected by his aristocratic father and frivolous American-raised mother, Churchill by his 20s had already reported from, fought in, and sometimes written books about imperial struggles in such places as Cuba, Sudan, India, and South Africa. He leveraged fame due to an escape from Boer captivity to win an election to British parliament in 1900 at age 25. As first lord of the admiralty during WWI, he was scapegoated for the military fiasco of Gallipoli in 1915 and cast into the political wilderness, which strengthened his nonconformist, independent nature, Roberts writes, helping him when he became prime minister in 1940. Roberts captures Churchill’s close working relationship with FDR (“the greatest American friend we have ever known”), his distrust of his chiefs of staff, and his excessive faith in Stalin’s promises in 1945. He also captures the man, dispelling the myth that Churchill was prone to depression and revealing his deep love for his wife, Clementine; his egotism, his wit, his loyalty to friends, his penchant sometimes for “selfishness, insensitivity, and ruthlessness”; and his “sybaritic” love of good drink and cigars. This biography is exhaustively researched, beautifully written and paced, deeply admiring but not hagiographic, and empathic and balanced in its judgments—a magnificent achievement. Agent: Georgina Capel, Georgina Capel Assoc. (Nov.)
Sprawling life of the great British leader, drawing on previously unavailable documents, including notes of wartime counsels kept by King George VI.
No stranger to big biographies or larger-than-life subjects, historian and commentator Roberts (Napoleon: A Life, 2014, etc.) faces a special challenge with Winston Churchill (1874-1965), who closely documented himself and still has managed to inspire a roomful of books. Roberts adds materially to the library by consulting troves of documents unknown or not open to other researchers. He also has a sense of both drama and character as well as the context of Churchill's time. As the author writes early on, Churchill "was born into a caste that held immense political and economic power in the largest empire in world history, and that had not yet become plagued by insecurity and self-doubt." Sometimes Churchill's overconfidence led to disaster, as at Gallipoli; other times it helped his nation steel itself for war, as with his "fight them on the beaches" speech at the dawn of World War II. Roberts turns up fascinating fragments, including solid evidence that Churchill was not always the pro-American some biographers have claimed him to be: "You have to try and understand and master America and make her like you," counseled his wife, Clementine. Better still, the narrative underscores Churchill's attention to the smallest details while seeing the big picture of global strategy in matters such as handling an always-fraught alliance with the Soviet Union against Hitler and laying the groundwork for a postwar world with plenty of tensions of its own, including the question of a Jewish state in Palestine. Roberts' portrait comes warts and all, allowing, for instance, that the leader who decried Nazi air attacks on London would order the leveling by bombing of whole German cities. The author delivers a clear, well-limned view of a complex figure who, in no danger of being forgotten, continues to inspire.
The most comprehensive single-volume biography of Churchill that we have in print and a boon for any student of the statesman and his times.
A USA Today Book You Won't Want to Miss
A Washington Post Book to Read in November
A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of November
A Mental Floss Best Book of 2018
An Octavian Report Essential Read for 2019
A New York Post Book That Should Be On Everyone's Holiday Gift List
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018
A Lit Hub Best Book of 2018
Shortlisted for the 2019 Plutarch Award
"The best single-volume biography of Churchill yet written. . . . Roberts tells this story with great authority and not a little panache. He writes elegantly, with enjoyable flashes of tartness, and is in complete command both of his sources and the vast historiography."
—Richard Aldous, The New York Times
"Terrific . . . By drawing on many previously untapped sources, Mr. Roberts has produced a more complete picture of his subject than any previous biography."
"Even if you’ve read every other book about the former prime minister and seen all the movies, expect revelations. For example: The royal family permitted the author to read King George VI’s diary notes about his wartime meetings with Churchill. That’s a first."
—The Washington Post
"Brilliant, breathtaking, unputdownable . . . the definitive picture of our greatest political leader. All Roberts's past life has been but a preparation for this hour and this work, and this brilliant book is a fitting crown to his own career."
—London Evening Standard
"Roberts’ new biography (★★★★ out of four) stands tall, re-illuminating the well-etched contours of Churchill’s monumental life with scrupulous scholarship and a flair for unearthing the telling detail; looking twice where most biographers have been content to glance once."
"In this season of giving, get (and give) Andrew Roberts’s brilliant new biography. . . . A review last month in The Times called it 'the best single-volume biography of Churchill yet written,' but it’s more than that. It’s an antidote to the reigning conceits, self-deceptions, half-truths and clichés of our day."
—Bret Stephens, The New York Times
"The best biography of Winston ever written . . . bursts with character, humour and incident on almost every page."
—The Sunday Times
"Fantastically readable prose, which flows along in a pitch-perfect combination of erudition and eloquence . . . In brightly engaging chapters, Roberts takes readers through all the stages of Churchill's adventurous life as a soldier of the empire and then as a professional politician . . . Roberts is a shrewd and experienced biographer."
—Christian Science Monitor
"A tour de force of scrupulous selection and astute appraisal, perhaps the best full-scale biography to date in a field where the competition has been crowded and stiff."
"A stupendous achievement: lucid, erudite, intelligent, but also inspiring. Roberts catches the imperishable grandeur of Churchill's life as no other historian has done. Roberts does full justice to Churchill’s superhuman range of activity."
"The best single-volume life imaginable of a man whose life it would seem technically impossible to get into a single volume."
"Roberts brilliantly conjures up one of the most fascinating characters of all time. He enriches the saga with wonderful examples of Churchill's aristocratic eccentricities, glittering oratory and wit."
"It’s the sort of biography that, one feels, Churchill himself would have wanted: colossal, energetic, deeply knowledgeable, properly critical, but also sympathetic and, in places, deliciously funny."
—Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph
"Roberts is a master storyteller."
—The Weekly Standard
"[Roberts's] research is outstanding, based on archival and primary sources . . . What emerges in Roberts' book is a man full of complexities. . . . Roberts' book is full of insights and facts that provide a deeper understanding of Churchill."
—Tom Hallman, Jr., The Oregonian
"This definitive biography of the storied leader was made possible through unprecedented access to material, including diaries, letters, unpublished memoirs and even the detailed diary notes taken by King George VI."
—New York Post
"Terrific . . . Churchill probably lived the most variegated life of any political figure of the 20th century. Moreover, he was obnoxious, charming, emotional, selfish and patriotic. Roberts has captured his complexity in a way that few historians have ever imagined."
—The Boston Herald
"Roberts’s brilliant new book is not only learned and sagacious but also thrilling and fun. An award-winning historian and biographer, an expert on statecraft, leadership, and the Second World War, Roberts writes with authority and confidence. Enriched by such previously unseen material as King George VI’s wartime diaries, [Churchill] should stand as the definitive one-volume Churchill biography."
—The City Journal
"Andrew Roberts has written the best single-volume biography of Winston Churchill to date."
—New York Journal of Books
"Widely praised as the best single-volume biography of Winston Churchill ever written, historian and commentator Roberts draws on previously unavailable journals and notes for the robust, engrossing, and nuanced history of the great British leader."
—The National Book Review
"Roberts writes gripping narrative history without deserting high scholarly standards. . . . Surely the last word for years to come on Churchill."
"Like all of Andrew Roberts’s histories, Churchill is massively researched and exquisitely written. The author’s sharp sense of humor is often in evidence and warmly complements Churchill’s own. This is a brilliant work, by a very fine historian, on a permanently heroic and always fascinating figure."
—The New Criterion
"Wonderful, masterly . . . There have been few lives as long, momentous, and wide-ranging as that of Sir Winston Churchill, author, adventurer, orator, wit, painter, animal lover, friend, and politician. Andrew Roberts’s masterful, supremely readable biography has a text 982 pages long. It could hardly have been shorter and told so extraordinary a story so well."
"The most superb one-volume biography I have ever read—of anyone. . . . Roberts also manages something I thought impossible. He has given us a new, ground-breaking portrait of the man whom many consider to be the greatest ever Englishman. . . . Roberts’s brilliance as a biographer was clear from his very first, of Lord Halifax. Re-reading it in tandem with this magnificent Churchill, one sees yet again just how finely history turns on random and uncertain events. . . . This is a simply wonderful book. A living, poetic, stirring yet thought-provoking portrait of a giant, it will be regarded as a classic for generations to come."
—The Jewish Chronicle
"Terrific. . . . [Roberts] is one of the great historians of his generation and he is stupendously readable. . . . Andrew Roberts has captured [Churchill’s] complexity in a way that few historians have ever imagined."
—The American Spectator
“Not only is it the best biography I have read this year; it might well be the best I’ve read ever. In terms of Roberts’s oeuvre, this book will surely stand as his masterpiece. This is biography as art, and a finer example one could scarcely hope to read. Why on earth does the world need another biography of Churchill? Before reading this, it would have been hard to say. Afterwards, very easy indeed—because it needed Andrew Roberts to write it.”
—The Catholic Herald
“Winston Churchill was perhaps the greatest leader of the twentieth century and a person who never ceases to fascinate and inspire. Widely hailed as the best single volume biography of Churchill ever written, historian Roberts’ magisterial biography captures the unfailing spirit of the man who saved Europe in all his flawed brilliance.”
—The Octavian Report
"In my opinion, the book, Churchill: Walking with Destiny, is the most precious gift of the year 2018—in history, education, knowledge, and literature. . . . If there were a Nobel Prize for historical research, Andrew Roberts would be a perfect candidate."
—The Jerusalem Report
"A page-turner . . . full of new material that has not been previously available to Churchill scholars. Roberts manages to mobilize these tremendous sources into a well-paced narrative that is full of exciting passages—which matches perfectly the venturesome spirit of Winston Churchill."
—Law & Liberty
"A complex and compelling depiction of one of the most important political leaders of the 20th century, one sure to enlighten and provoke both those familiar with Churchill and those who may know little beyond . . . a tour de force. Roberts has given us a great gift. He presents a Churchill in all of his complexity. What makes this book essential for those who care about reviving and defending liberal democracy in our time is that it reminds us that, even at moments when old hatreds burn bright and few are willing to swim against the current, it is still possible for great leaders to emerge."
"I didn’t think we really needed a new Churchill biography, or, having read so many, that I would find a new one catching up my attention, but Roberts proved me wrong. In addition to new source material, Roberts’s judgments about Churchill, and his keen selection of the most salient details about Churchill thought and action, are superb."
—Claremont Review of Books
"A magnificent and carefully nuanced life and times of Winston Churchill, elegantly written, studded with new research, and deeply imagined. Andrew Roberts accomplishes a minor miracle in offering a fresh, empathetic portrait in an authoritative and fast-paced narrative that never flags. Roberts explores Winston Churchill’s strengths and weaknesses as a leader, his self-centeredness and his generosity, allowing us to feel both Churchill’s personal vulnerabilities as well as his force as a public figure."
—Biographers International Organization
"A heroic biography, appropriately matched to the ambition, egotism, and undoubted achievement of the life it describes. It will surely remain the outstanding Churchill biography for many years to come."
—International Churchill Society
"The newly definitive one-volume biography of its subject . . . Andrew Roberts has brilliantly reconstructed the life of a titanic figure of the twentieth century within the intellectual context of his times. As such, Churchill constitutes a first-rate, authentic work of historical scholarship for our time."
—History News Network
"Riveting . . . A masterful biography, rich in detail and insight."
—Booklist (starred review)
"A well-researched and exceptionally well-written biography . . . This compelling book is likely to become a standard text on Churchill and will be difficult to keep on the shelves."
—Library Journal (starred review)
"This biography is exhaustively researched, beautifully written and paced, deeply admiring but not hagiographic, and empathic and balanced in its judgments—a magnificent achievement."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A clear, well-limned view of a complex figure who, in no danger of being forgotten, continues to inspire. The most comprehensive single-volume biography of Churchill that we have in print and a boon for any student of the statesman and his times."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)