Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and George VI

Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and George VI

by Kenneth Weisbrode
     
 

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For fans of The King's Speech, the intriguing bond between monarch and prime minister and its crucial role during World War II

The political and personal relationship between King George VI and Winston Churchill during World War II is one that has been largely overlooked throughout history, yet the trust and loyalty these men shared helped Britain

Overview

For fans of The King's Speech, the intriguing bond between monarch and prime minister and its crucial role during World War II

The political and personal relationship between King George VI and Winston Churchill during World War II is one that has been largely overlooked throughout history, yet the trust and loyalty these men shared helped Britain navigate its perhaps most trying time.

Despite their vast differences, the two men met weekly and found that their divergent virtues made them a powerful duo. The king’s shy nature was offset by Churchill’s willingness to cast himself as the nation’s savior. Meanwhile, Churchill’s complicated political past was given credibility by the king’s embrace and counsel. Together as foils, confidants, conspirators, and comrades, the duo guided Britain through war while reinspiring hope in the monarchy, Parliament, and the nation itself.

Books about these men as individuals could fill a library, but Kenneth Weisbrode’s study of the unique bond between them is the first of its kind.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/09/2013
Historian Weisbrode (On Ambivalence: The Problems and Pleasures of Having It Both Ways) shares the story of how two of the most important figures in 20th-century Britain, Churchill and King George VI, worked tirelessly to maintain British interests throughout WWII. Though told with humor, Weisbrode presents lackluster evidence to support his notion that the king’s role during the war was on the level of Churchill’s. Throughout, readers will get to know Churchill’s eccentric personality, his successes and failures, but relatively little of the king’s. Indeed, there are similarities between the two men’s natures and opinions, but the story proves to reveal parallel, if complementary, lives instead of comparable powers. Only at the end of the book does Weisbrode make good on his belief in the pair’s significant partnership: “after reconstructing the history of the two men in tandem it becomes very difficult to imagine Churchill succeeding in that without the full support of the king.” Furthermore, many anecdotes feel unfinished, or contain British-isms Americans are unlikely to understand. The friendship that grew between these two historical figures makes for an uplifting story, but not an entire book. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
Churchill and the King is a slim volume . . . yet it merits a place on Churchillians’ bookshelves . . . Weisbrode chooses to sketch . . . a credible account of the relationship between these two men who led Britain in World War II.”
—Paul Reid, The American Spectator

“Wonderfully readable . . . This is popular history at its best . . . Weisbrode does a very good job of illuminating the bonds that drew two men with such different personalities together.”
The Daily Beast

“An organic comparison of two highly flawed and deeply sympathetic characters at the helm of England at her most perilous hour. . . .Weisbrode makes a very compelling case that each man was ‘working against his own faults, on behalf of the other.’ An inspired, engaging comparative portrait.”
Kirkus

“Historian Weisbrode shares the story of how two of the most important figures in 20th-century Britain, Churchill and King George VI, worked tirelessly to maintain British interests throughout WWII. . .  The friendship that grew between these two historical figures makes for an uplifting story.”
Publishers Weekly

Churchill and the King is a thoughtful, deeply insightful account of two unconventional friends — the shy, stammering George VI and the flamboyant Winston Churchill — who, after triumphing over their own personal adversities, join forces to rally their countrymen and inspire the world in the dark days of World War II. " 
 —Lynne Olson  author of Citizens of London, Troublesome Young Men, and  Those Angry Days

“Weisbrode’s excellent book on Churchill’s relationship with King George VI is very well done and will take an honoured place on my Churchill shelf.”
 —Paul Johnson, author of Modern Times and Churchill
 
“One of the last unexplored relationships of World War Two is that between Winston Churchill and the only person who could have sacked him during that conflict, King George VI. They had very different personalities and views on politics, but their country needed them to work in perfect tandem. As Kenneth Weisbrode writes, ‘Somehow they made it work,’ and in this well-researched and well-written book, he shows how what began as a professional necessity turned into a genuine friendship, and eventually one of the best working relationships of either man’s life.”
 —Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War and Masters and Commanders

“The shy, stammering King and the loquacious, domineering Prime Minister were an odd couple—but they gave each other courage and confidence when England stood alone. Ken Weisbrode has written an elegant and perceptive study of friendship in power.”
Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff and Sea of Thunder

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
An organic comparison of two highly flawed and deeply sympathetic characters at the helm of England at her most perilous hour. Historian Weisbrode (On Ambivalence: The Problems and Pleasures of Having it Both Ways, 2012, etc.) navigates among the infinite accounts already existing on Churchill and the House of Windsor for a touching dual portrait of two historical characters whose greatness largely relied on the support of the other. The recent film The King's Speech brought out the painfully human shortcomings of King George VI, "Bertie," who always expected his big brother to become king and certainly wasn't educated for the role. Churchill, although remembered as the country's savior during World War II, had spent many years previously in the political wilderness. Both men had endured terrible school years and a deep-seated anxiety of influence vis-à-vis their fathers. Both had to step up patriotically to fill the vacuum created by political crisis: Edward VIII's abdication dropped the royal hot potato in his younger brother's lap, and Churchill was the only one capable of running the government after the disgrace of Neville Chamberlain. Although Churchill (not then in power) had urged Edward not to abdicate, it is hard to imagine how the prime minister would have minded such a king "with appeasement in the air and his integrity thrown into question." Churchill and Bertie met for weekly luncheons during the war, with or without the queen; both men used language very deliberately; both had few intimates around them ("they were essentially friendless," writes the author) but relied on the asymmetry of their relationship and the urgency of official duty to build "an armature of knowledge and trust." Weisbrode makes a very compelling case that each man was "working against his own faults, on behalf of the other." An inspired, engaging comparative portrait.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101638088
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/31/2013
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
664,796
File size:
633 KB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Churchill and the King is a slim volume . . . yet it merits a place on Churchillians’ bookshelves . . . Weisbrode chooses to sketch . . . a credible account of the relationship between these two men who led Britain in World War II.”
Paul Reid, The American Spectator

“Wonderfully readable . . . This is popular history at its best . . . Weisbrode does a very good job of illuminating the bonds that drew two men with such different personalities together.”
The Daily Beast

“An organic comparison of two highly flawed and deeply sympathetic characters at the helm of England at her most perilous hour. . . .Weisbrode makes a very compelling case that each man was ‘working against his own faults, on behalf of the other.’ An inspired, engaging comparative portrait.”
Kirkus

“Historian Weisbrode shares the story of how two of the most important figures in 20th-century Britain, Churchill and King George VI, worked tirelessly to maintain British interests throughout WWII. . .  The friendship that grew between these two historical figures makes for an uplifting story.”
Publishers Weekly

Churchill and the King is a thoughtful, deeply insightful account of two unconventional friends — the shy, stammering George VI and the flamboyant Winston Churchill — who, after triumphing over their own personal adversities, join forces to rally their countrymen and inspire the world in the dark days of World War II. " 
 —Lynne Olson  author of Citizens of London, Troublesome Young Men, and  Those Angry Days

“Weisbrode’s excellent book on Churchill’s relationship with King George VI is very well done and will take an honoured place on my Churchill shelf.”
 —Paul Johnson, author of Modern Times and Churchill
 
“One of the last unexplored relationships of World War Two is that between Winston Churchill and the only person who could have sacked him during that conflict, King George VI. They had very different personalities and views on politics, but their country needed them to work in perfect tandem. As Kenneth Weisbrode writes, ‘Somehow they made it work,’ and in this well-researched and well-written book, he shows how what began as a professional necessity turned into a genuine friendship, and eventually one of the best working relationships of either man’s life.”
 —Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War and Masters and Commanders

“The shy, stammering King and the loquacious, domineering Prime Minister were an odd couple—but they gave each other courage and confidence when England stood alone. Ken Weisbrode has written an elegant and perceptive study of friendship in power.”
Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff and Sea of Thunder

Meet the Author

Kenneth Weisbrode is a writer and historian living in Turkey. His previous book is The Atlantic Century: Four Generations of Extraordinary Diplomats who Forged America's Vital Alliance with Europe.

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