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Posted July 27, 2005
Not For Your Average Reader
Jenkins is a fine writer and deeply knowledgable about England, parliament in particular. He is 'an insider,' a politician, a distinguished popular historian and a grown up. But this is nonetheless a perverse biography which is of use for only one group of people: those readers whose main interest is Churchill's parliamentary career as written by an insider. For the rest of us this book tantalizes and then frustrates. It jumps over (or omits) the most dramatic episodes of the story to give us nauseating detail about parliamentary debates that only a super-specialist would want to know about. This would be fine if we got such detail about everything else but no- only about parliamentary debates. I mean he describes who spoke first, second third and what their history in parliament was. But about Churchill's childhood and its influence - hardly a word and the word is dismissive. About his marriage to his wife - glimpses. We are told she was always away on trips but Jenkins refuses to venture an opinion as to why or even what Churchill's reaction was. It is almost as if his manners are too good to do anything other than talk about what happens in the public arena. I would strongly recommend this book only to academics(or amateurs) who have an interest in the history of the British House of Commons and Churchill's place in it. Don't let some of these previous reviews fool you. These reviewers are justly impressed with Jenkins gravitas and his age (he died before the book came out)and his political career and don't want to tell you the truth.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 3, 2002
Only for dedicated Churchill-philes
If you want to read about Churchill's amazing life, but don't know the historical context behind the Boer War, or the Dardanelles, or the Troubles, or Hitler's rise to power etc. then this book is not for you... begin with Manchester's Last Lion. If you're stoked to the gills with Churchillania and want to spend 2 weeks of enjoyable evenings revisiting old tales with new details, Jenkins is your man. If you watch BBC America and program the VCR to catch Parliament on CSPAN, get this puppy in hardcover and cherish it always. With an exhausting attention to detail, a vast command of arcane and archaic verbiage, and a gossipy, at times even catty style, Jenkins paints a Parliamentary insider's portrait of the consummate Member of Parliament. The problem I had with this book is that it is voiced entirely for a narrow British audience. It is only the magnetism, magnificence and mild megalomania of Churchill shining through Jenkins' more than occasional obscurantist obfuscations which rescues this book. And if you understood my last sentence, then you're ready for Roy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.