The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965

Reply Mon 24 Dec, 2012 02:08 pm
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965
by William Manchester and Paul Reid

Book Description
Publication Date: November 6, 2012

Spanning the years of 1940-1965, THE LAST LION picks up shortly after Winston Churchill became Prime Minister-when his tiny island nation stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. The Churchill conjured up by William Manchester and Paul Reid is a man of indomitable courage, lightning fast intellect, and an irresistible will to action. THE LAST LION brilliantly recounts how Churchill organized his nation's military response and defense; compelled FDR into supporting America's beleaguered cousins, and personified the "never surrender" ethos that helped the Allies win the war, while at the same time adapting himself and his country to the inevitable shift of world power from the British Empire to the United States.

More than twenty years in the making, THE LAST LION presents a revelatory and unparalleled portrait of this brilliant, flawed, and dynamic leader. This is popular history at its most stirring.

Editorial Reviews

"Masterful.... It was worth the wait.... The collaboration completes the Churchill portrait in a seamless manner, combining the detailed research, sharp analysis and sparkling prose that readers of the first two volumes have come to expect." (Associated Press )

"Mr. Reid...following Manchester's lead,...dutifully includes both the admiring and disparaging remarks of Churchill's colleagues and contemporaries, presenting everyone's take with equanimity." (Wall Street Journal )

"This book is superb. It has tremendous pace, rich detail and immense drama." (Washington Post )

"Reid has produced a third Last Lion...that is both magisterial and humane. Cue the trumpets." (Vanity Fair )

"It's a must-read finale for those who loved Manchester's first two books." (USA Today )

"The final volume of Manchester's life of Winston Churchill is majestic and inspiring." (People )

"Masterful... [and] breathtaking....Reid...finished the race with agility, grace, and skill....This is a book that is brilliant and beautiful, evocative and enervating." (Boston Globe )

"Those who want a detailed account of Churchill's two terms as prime minister and leadership during World War II will find this book a literary feast.....It's a worthy finale to an exhaustive portrait of one of the last century's true titans." (Washington Times )

"The long-delayed majestic account of Winston Churchill's last 25 years is worth the wait....Manchester (and Reid) matches the outstanding quality of biographers such as Robert Caro and Edmund Morris, joining this elite bank of writers who devote their lives to one subject." (Publishers Weekly )

"This is surely the best installment of the [series]....Reid has written a winning, full-blooded biography." (Newsday )

"Reid learned well from Manchester, and the finished book is a worthy conclusion to what must be considered one of the most thorough treatments of Churchill so far produced. An essential conclusion to Manchester's magnum opus." (Library Journal (starred review) )

"The third and final volume of a massive work of biography is a tribute not only to Manchester but also to Reid, whose courage in accepting the job is matched by his success in telling the story." (Richmond Times-Dispatch )

"Critics and Churchill fans are calling it a terrific effort that was worth the wait." (Cleveland Plain-Dealer )

"Churchill was the greatest man of the last century and this is the greatest biography of him." (The Sacramento Bee John Lescroart )

"[Reid] turned in a book that is well worth the wait. A large part of Manchester's popularity is the accessibility of his books. Reid has preserved that and ensured that Churchill's personality-not just his actions-come through." (Charlotte Observer )

"[An] in-depth narrative that nicely conveys the challenges facing Churchill....Impressive." (Bloomberg Businessweek )

"Readers...will be taken by [Manchester's] boundless abilities as a storyteller." (Kirkus Reviews )

"Reid's got the research right, down to the day, down to the minute...As Reid chronicles Churchill's private aspects-his wittiness, sybaritic consumption of scotch and cigars, and moods bordering on depression...Manchester was one of the best Churchill biographers, and this capstone to his magnum opus ought not to be missed." (Booklist )

"Magnificently delineated....The story of Churchill and Britain in the Second World War...is vividly evoked by Manchester and Reid." (Winnipeg Free Press )

"True, Defender of the Realm is a big book. But Winston Churchill was a big man. Read all about him." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch )

"This biography has the dramatic punch of a great novel." (Newark Sunday Star Ledger )

"This is a big, rich savory stew of a book...deeply satisfying for those who have waited too long to be told-again-how The Last Lion finally ends." (MacKenzie Carpenter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette )

"This book brilliantly recounts how Churchill organized his nation's military response and defense." (The Daytona Beach News-Journal Ernie Arico )

About the Author

William Manchester was a hugely successful popular historian and biographer whose books include The Last Lion, Volumes 1 and 2, Goodbye Darkness, A World Lit Only by Fire, The Glory and the Dream, The Arms of Krupp, American Caesar, The Death of the President, and assorted works of journalism.

Paul Reid is an award-winning journalist. In late 2003 his friend, William Manchester, in failing health, asked Paul to complete The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm. He lives in North Carolina.

Review By Raoul

I have been nervously awaiting this book for years. My first encounter with Manchester came when volume one first came out. I was a child, and I went to visit my grandmother (who was in London during the Blitz); she held the book up to show me what she was reading. "The man." she said. "The great, great man."

Years later, I read the first two volumes almost in one sitting - couldn't put them down - and have reread large parts of them over the years (every time I looked some piece up I'd find myself sitting down for an hour or two because I couldn't stop). I remember when Finest Hour reported that the trilogy would never be finished: it was like a punch in the stomach.

I had my doubts about the ability of another author to write worthily of Manchester, and I was afraid this volume wouldn't measure up. No need to worry: this is every bit as much a page-turner as the last two volumes. It's not QUITE Manchester - I thought I could feel a bit of a difference in style, somehow - and yet it IS extremely good, much better than I had expected.

Like the first two volumes, we begin with a preamble ("The Lion Hunted") in which we are (re-)acquainted with the book's subject. There is a certain amount of repetition of material from the two earlier preambles, but much good new material as well. I've read thousands of pages on Churchill, but even I found some good new anecdotes and quotations here. After that we're hurled right into the middle of the most dramatic days of World War Two. The unexpected, catastrophic defeats; the incompetence and perfidy of the people in charge of France - it doesn't take much from a writer to make this an exciting story, and yet I don't think it has ever been told better than this. Really, just what I had hoped for from Manchester himself. If the later parts of the book don't quite keep the same level of excitement, neither do the events they recount.

My only complaint is the ending: really, the book just stops. Read the end of volume II: I would have expected Manchester himself to end with a climactic summary, perhaps returning to his major insight from the start: the central significance of Churchill in history is that he was a product of the late nineteenth century who was able to bring the virtues of the era of his formative years to life again at a time when they were needed, and when the British people were not yet too far from them. Actually, I do have one other complaint, and it's with the publisher: the dust jacket doesn't match the first edition dust jackets of the first two volumes. Doesn't look as good on the shelf as I would have liked.

All in all, this is a worthy final volume. Manchester himself would be proud, and there can be no doubt that this trilogy would be Churchill's favourite biography. Highly recommended, to fans of the first two volumes and newcomers alike.

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Reply Mon 24 Dec, 2012 02:31 pm
Churchill the last great Englishman could had been the title.
Crying or Very sad Drunk
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Reply Mon 24 Dec, 2012 03:32 pm
I grew up in a London that still bore traces of the Blitz; Churchill died when I was 12 and I watched his funeral on TV. The writer of the "Book Description" sounds a bit of a dick: the United Kingdom may be smaller than the US both in terms of land area and population (130 million to 50 million in 1940) but "tiny island nation" would serve as a pretty good explanation of why many Britons are so willing to only see ignorant pricks when they look west across the Atlantic.

As for Churchill, he managed to avoid losing the war long enough until the Yanks got involved, but he is not universally worshipped in the UK. In many conservative circles, particularly in the United States, Winston Churchill is beyond criticism. Mention his errors – the Gallipoli debacle, the return to gold at the pre-1914 rate, the contracting out of domestic policy to the Left after 1940, the second premiership – and you risk raised eyebrows or worse.

Reply Mon 24 Dec, 2012 03:49 pm
I think that Americans are amazed that Churchill and his party lost power before the ending of the war even.

The words incrediblely ungrateful come to mind.
Reply Mon 24 Dec, 2012 05:49 pm
BillRM wrote:

I think that Americans are amazed that Churchill and his party lost power before the ending of the war even.

The words incrediblely ungrateful come to mind.

Incrediblely? Is that how Americans think Brits talk? A good wartime leader is not necessarily what you want in peacetime. Look at the cockup Churchill made after 1951 when he was PM again. Anyhow, only a dumbass Yank would think that the British electorate was "ungrateful" in voting for a Labour government in 1945. They didn't want a Conservative government. Period.

Reply Mon 24 Dec, 2012 09:30 pm
Yes, they was ungrateful to the man that lead their nation in it darken hours and from my readings he took it in that manner.

Second the UK come out of the war with a chance of using the technology develop in that war to give the US a run for the future and blow it.
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