British Empire Books


AuthorRoy Jenkins
ISBN No.0452283523

Roy Jenkins has managed to write a very coherent and enjoyable book on the life of Winston Churchill. Set out chronologically, Roy Jenkins is able to explain Churchill's philosophical and political changes throughout his long and busy life. This is particularly important given his moves to the Liberal party and back. Given that Roy Jenkins himself was a formidable politician himself, he manages to explain how one of the most famous Conservative Prime Ministers was in socially and economically capable of being very liberal indeed. It was mainly his foreign and imperial philosophies that placed him in the camp of the right. That, and the fact that his socially liberal attitudes could often descend into an overly condescending paternalism.

The book is very clearly constructed, with easy to follow grammatical constructions. The only real criticisms are actually similar to those that he levels at Churchill. Roy Jenkins could be as condescending to his audience as Churchill was in his lifetime. Jenkins uses vocabulary which has long disappeared from common currency in the English language. A dictionary is absolutely essential on far too numerous occasions. Additionally, the habit of not translating foreign text was one that should have disappeared generations ago. It is simply not good enough to expect that all readers are as familiar with a language as the author is. Given these minor irritations, Roy Jenkins has managed to write a compellingly interesting overview of the great man's life.

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by Stephen Luscombe