What’s up my lovely nerds?
The book review I have here today is for an awesome wee bio of one of my favourite politicians: His Finest Hour – A Brief Life of Winston Churchill by Christopher Catherwood. Brilliantly, I did not buy this book for myself (though if I’d seen it in the bookstore, I probably would have!). My family indulge in the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod, despite our sad lack of Icelandic heritage, and exchange books on Christmas Eve. Because there’s six of us in my immediate family, we draw names out of a hat sometime in October and buy a book for just one person. This year, my younger brother drew my name so it was actually a fifteen year old boy that chose this one for me! Didn’t he do well?!
Now, I said previously that Churchill is one of my favourite politicians: this is NOT a ringing endorsement of every decision he ever made or every policy he ever supported, because I will be one of the first to say that the guy made some truly disastrous choices throughout his long and storied tenure as a British politician. However: I also believe that, for all his faults, Churchill is one of the greatest Britons in history, and certainly had a flair for oratory which is so very, very rare today. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that his speeches echoed through decades, and still do. For example: he was the one to coin the term the Iron Curtain (so says this bio!!). He is also the author of one of my very favourite political quotes:
“If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons” (p.153).
He was a sassy gentleman, and despite some truly draconic ideas and beliefs, a wonderful statesman without whom the outcome of the Second World War would have been drastically different. Christopher Catherwood makes a good point several times in this book about previous biographies of Churchill: they are often extreme in nature, either propelling Churchill to the status of icon or completely trashing him. This book doesn’t do that, a specific aim of the author and one that I’m thankful for because Churchill was neither an icon nor a disaster, he was human. He was a genius, he was depressed, he was a soldier, he was a political, he was an Imperialist and he was a commoner. I don’t think we’ll ever really see his like again, The bulldog of Britain was a man of many talents and many mistakes, and I truly recommend reading this biography (or any other that you can find that is either well-balanced, or so overtly extreme that you can balance your reading of it) to get an idea of who Churchill actually was and why he made some of the decisions that he did. Why he is both revered and despised.
I genuinely enjoyed this book, and I am sincerely grateful to my brother for knowing me well enough to choose it for me!