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Becoming Winston Churchill: The Untold Story of Young Winston and his American Mentor
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Becoming Winston Churchill: The Untold Story of Young Winston and his American Mentor

by Michael McMenamin, Curt Zoller
 

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Today a forgotten figure, Bourke Cockran was acclaimed during his lifetime as America's greatest orator. He was also the lover of Jenny Churchill - Winston's mother - after the death of Lord Randolph. And, for twelve years (1895 to 1906), he was the young Winston's mentor. Until now, the story of the extraordinary and crucial relationship between them has not been

Overview

Today a forgotten figure, Bourke Cockran was acclaimed during his lifetime as America's greatest orator. He was also the lover of Jenny Churchill - Winston's mother - after the death of Lord Randolph. And, for twelve years (1895 to 1906), he was the young Winston's mentor. Until now, the story of the extraordinary and crucial relationship between them has not been told. At one level, the story is about politics, exploring the ways the young Churchill adopted Cockran's political and economic views - on democracy, capitalism, the Gold Standard, Free Trade, Socialism: issues that Churchill was to make his own. On another level, the story is biographical, chronicling the meetings between the men, and reproducing - for the first time in full - their private correspondence. It is the story of Churchill growing up. On yet another level, it is historical, vividly evoking the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, when Churchill was often in the thick of the action - fighting at the Khyber Pass in India or escaping from a Boer camp in Pretoria (and becoming a household name as a consequence) - all the while keeping up his correspondence with Cockran. The drama of such events is part of the book's irresistible appeal.

The book is written with a dramatic flair, bringing out the personalities of the two men. Each section begins, like a historical novel, with a recreation of a crucial moment in their lives. The general narrative is chronologically structured, with a powerful momentum, tracing the two men's growing intimacy over the years and interweaving their letters and meetings with the historical events in which they were involved. The story began in 1895 in New York, where Cockran took the young Winston under his wing. The following years, marked by turmoil in Cuba and Ireland, included the 1896 Presidential election, the great public debate about the gold standard and Cockran's private insistence to Churchill that principle must always be placed over party (something Churchill was to remember later when he crossed the floor of the House). 1899 saw Churchill's involvement in the Boer War, and his dramatic escape from a Boer prison camp, followed by his election to Parliament, visits to Cockran in America and, between 1901 and 1906, hard political fighting over the crucial issue of free trade, over which Churchill eventually left the Conservatives to join the Liberal party. The final years of Churchill and Cockran's friendship were dramatised by a number of public events - the American occupation of the Philippines, the victory of the Liberal Party in the British General Election, the First World War, about which they continued to correspond - but dominated by private ones: Cockran's remarriage, the death of Churchill's mother, and Churchill's own marriage. Throughout, the two men remained close, and, to the end, Cockran's influence on Churchill was unique and profound.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There is some rare stuff between the covers of Becoming Winston Churchill: material so unusual, so uncommon, that Churchillians should treasure it like a rare gem, or a first edition of Mr. Brodrick's Army….This is an huge and even vital book for any Churchillian. It is important as a source of new material and new thinking about Churchill, and as a surprisingly tender and gentle way of thinking about young people. Every person, no matter how great, needs mentors, the author's argue-especially in their youth. By mentoring the young, older people can add an critical dimensions of meaning to their lives. McMenamin and Zoller have proved it by helping to resurrect Bourke Cockran. Theirs is a message we should all take to heart." - Finest Hour

"A volume which is not easy to categorize. Perhaps that does not greatly matter, since the totality is cleverly and persuasively done. It is at one level, as the authors see it, the story of one remarkable man growing up; at another, the chronicle of an Anglo-American exchange, at a formative stage for Winston, on the political issues of the day; and, at a third level, and evocation of late Victorian and Edwardian social, political and military life. There is, in short, something for everybody. The 'story' is intriguingly told." - History

"When Churchill was asked to whom he owed his oratorical skills, he surprised people by answering Bourke Cockran, an American statesman. Based on the correspondence some previously unpublished between Churchill and Cockran, authorities on Churchill (1874-1965) depict Cockran's mentoring of the future British Prime Minister. The book begins with the love affair between Churchill's widowed American mother and Cockran, and includes fictional but fact-based narratives beginning chapters, and photographs." - Reference & Research Book News

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781846450051
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
06/28/2007
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are Saying About This

Sir Martin
"A true tour de force that brings life and light to one of the great early influences on Winston Churchill."
Allen Packwood
"A magnificent achievement and an illuminating study of a largely forgotten relationship."

Meet the Author

Michael McMenamin has written extensively on Churchill, including his regular column Action This Day in Finest Hour (the quarterly journal of The Churchill Centre) which chronicles Churchill's life.

Curt Zoller is the author of the recently published Annotated Bibliography of Works About Sir Winston S. Churchill (M. E. Sharpe, London and New York, 2004), which has been called by one Churchill scholar as by far the most probing, energetic, and thorough work of its type, certain to be welcomed by scholars and casual browsers alike.

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