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The Churchills: In Love And War (2011)

by Mary S. Lovell(Favorite Author)
4.06 of 5 Votes: 4
0393062309 (ISBN13: 9780393062304)
W. W. Norton & Company
review 1: I'm not entirely certain what I was expecting from this book, but it proved very interesting. It's a family / personal history of the Churchill (or Spencer Churchill) clan, from John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough circa 1650 through his slightly more famous descendent (Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, who's paternal grandfather was the 7th Duke, uncle was the 8th, and cousin the 9th) and the family until the late 1970s. Not unexpectedly, the bulk of the book is spent on Winston and his immediate family; modern readers might be surprised to discover that Winston's parents were probably more famous (or infamous) than their elder son until the Second World War. However, the focus of this work is on the interpersonal relationships of the Churchills, and this is an area wh... moreich is probably skipped over most frequently in political or military biographies, but the author makes an interesting case for the importance of these relationships in both shaping the individuals concerned as well as their world-view and actions when in some form of power.
review 2: When you pick up a book of Winston Churchill, you sort of know what you are going to get. You think you will have yet another retelling of how Winston won World War 2, after featuring in the Boer War as a correspondent and even before that in Sudan as a cavalry officer. Well, yes - you get that, but you get a lot more than that and in a much more entertaining package than many other books can offer.The main feature of this book is of course the extraordinary love and affection that Winston Churchill found in Clementine Hozier. There are few couples at the top of the ruling classes in this world who have found a relationship that sees them through the good and the bad times: Margaret and Dennis Thatcher, Ronald Reagan with his Nancy, and Mikhail Gorbachev with Raisa Gorbacheva spring to mind. I do declare though that the Churchills take the cake. Clementine realized early on that Winston was an exceptional man and he would change the world, but only if he had a home to call his own and a balanced life. She set out to provide just that, and she did it so well that Winston was able to steer full steam ahead through times of peace and war.This is not to say the Churchills did not have their adversities in life, far from it. Besides losing one daughter to sickness at the age of three, their other children provided ample problems all through their lives, and the author is very balanced in her delivery of these events in the Churchills' life. In fact, it is in a way cathartic to see that even if you rule the remains of an empire, you still have to deal with an unruly son whose ego was second only to his father's, and who had such trouble locating his place in the world.This book also excels in the description of upper-echelon life in the late Victorian period into the Roaring Twenties and the post-war era. It is nothing short of revelatory to see how behind the facades, men are cuckolded with glee and women are thrust into societal sidelights through the unbelievable extramarital affairs of their husbands. It seems that many marriages were entered into for all the wrong reasons such as money, prestige, family ties or simple coercion.Another feature that gets much air time in the book is the role of money in the said circles. Take Blenheim, the Churchills' family estate, a vast mammoth of a building in dire need of funds for repair and upkeep. The solution by the then Duke? Marry money. It's fine, because the mother of the bride-to-be had long been of the opinion that her daughter should be a Duchess. So, Sunny Marlborough and Consuelo Vanderbilt got married only to find very quickly that they were exact opposites in any issue imaginable. Sure, the next generation heir was produced, but the heart-rending story of these two unhappy people has been delivered by the author in a delicate vein.WHy read this book? First, because it sheds light on Winston Churchill the man instead of WC the PM. Second, because few books have such a wide cast of characters, and still form a coherent narrative. And third, because this is the best book I have read so far that makes you understand just how the posturing, pomp, and circumstance of Victorian England actually operated, and how the influx of American money princesses changed things. This is a highly entertaining read and you will have much fun picturing people running into their mistresses in the company of another mistress while on the run from their wives. And vice versa.And you will see that there is such a thing as true love. less
Reviews (see all)
As an Anglophile and a history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. What a family!
glad that I live now and not then! Very tough family lives in the Churchill "set".
A brilliant biography.
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