Product Added : January 24th, 2013
Category : Books
"This Best Selling The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 Tends to SELL OUT VERY FAST! If this is a MUST HAVE product, be sure to Order Now to avoid disappointment!"
Spanning the years of 1940-1965, THE LAST LION picks up shortly after Winston Churchill became Prime Minister-when his tiny island nation stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. The Churchill conjured up by William Manchester and Paul Reid is a man of indomitable courage, lightning fast intellect, and an irresistible will to action. THE LAST LION brilliantly recounts how Churchill organized his nation's military response and defense; compelled FDR into supporting America's beleaguered cousins, and personified the "never surrender" ethos that helped the Allies win the war, while at the same time adapting himself and his country to the inevitable shift of world power from the British Empire to the United States.
More than twenty years in the making, THE LAST LION presents a revelatory and unparalleled portrait of this brilliant, flawed, and dynamic leader. This is popular history at its most stirring.
I have been nervously awaiting this book for years. My first encounter with Manchester came when volume one first came out. I was a child, and I went to visit my grandmother (who was in London during the Blitz); she held the book up to show me what she was reading. “The man.” she said. “The great, great man.”
Years later, I read the first two volumes almost in one sitting – couldn’t put them down – and have reread large parts of them over the years (every time I looked some piece up I’d find myself sitting down for an hour or two because I couldn’t stop). I remember when Finest Hour reported that the trilogy would never be finished: it was like a punch in the stomach.
I had my doubts about the ability of another author to write worthily of Manchester, and I was afraid this volume wouldn’t measure up. No need to worry: this is every bit as much a page-turner as the last two volumes. It’s not QUITE Manchester – I thought I could feel a bit of a difference in style, somehow – and yet it IS extremely good, much better than I had expected.
Like the first two volumes, we begin with a preamble (“The Lion Hunted”) in which we are (re-)acquainted with the book’s subject. There is a certain amount of repetition of material from the two earlier preambles, but much good new material as well. I’ve read thousands of pages on Churchill, but even I found some good new anecdotes and quotations here. After that we’re hurled right into the middle of the most dramatic days of World War Two. The unexpected, catastrophic defeats; the incompetence and perfidy of the people in charge of France – it doesn’t take much from a writer to make this an exciting story, and yet I don’t think it has ever been told better than this. Really, just what I had hoped for from Manchester himself. If the later parts of the book don’t quite keep the same level of excitement, neither do the events they recount.
My only complaint is the ending: really, the book just stops. Read the end of volume II: I would have expected Manchester himself to end with a climactic summary, perhaps returning to his major insight from the start: the central significance of Churchill in history is that he was a product of the late nineteenth century who was able to bring the virtues of the era of his formative years to life again at a time when they were needed, and when the British people were not yet too far from them. Actually, I do have one other complaint, and it’s with the publisher: the dust jacket doesn’t match the first edition dust jackets of the first two volumes. Doesn’t look as good on the shelf as I would have liked.
All in all, this is a worthy final volume. Manchester himself would be proud, and there can be no doubt that this trilogy would be Churchill’s favourite biography. Highly recommended, to fans of the first two volumes and newcomers alike.
“Defender of the Realm, 1940 — 1965″ is the final volume of William Manchester’s massive three-volume biography, “The Last Lion”, of Winston Churchill (1874 — 1965). The first volume, published in 1983, titled “Visions of Glory”, covered Churchill’s life from 1874 — 1932, while the second volume, published in 1988, titled simply “Alone, covered the years 1932 — 1940. This new sweeping third volume covers Churchill’s life beginning with his ascension to the office of Prime Minister in 1940. It focuses upon the WW II years, follows Churchill during the years between 1945 and his second period as Prime Minister from 1951 — 1955, and concludes with Churchill’s years of comparative retirement up to his death. The biography was a near lifetime project for Manchester (1922 — 2004). Manchester had researched the third volume of the trilogy, prepared well-organized and voluminous notes, and done some of the writing. Near the end of his life, however, Manchester realized he would be unable to complete the third volume. He selected journalist Paul Reid to complete the work.
The result of Manchester’s and Reid’s efforts is a detailed, dense study of 1200 pages. The book offers a thorough, multi-faceted look at the complex statesman that was Winston Churchill, in his determination, devotion to Great Britain and to civilization, brilliance, and frequent pettiness. Because Churchill’s personal life was inextricably intertwined with his public life, this book goes far beyond biography. It is a masterful political and military history of the WW II years and, to a lesser extent, of the years following.
Churchill the man is most in focus in the 50-page “Preamble” to the book. Manchester and Reid offer a summation of Churchill’s personality, leadership style, political, religious, and social beliefs, family and more. The Preamble offers an excellent overview to the momentous events described in the lengthy remainder of the volume.
The volume consists of eight large parts, the first of which begins in May 1940 and follows Churchill and WW II through December, 1940. Part two covers 1941, culminating in the United States’ entry into the war and on Churchill’s extensive efforts to get the United States involved. Part three covers military action in 1942, focusing on the alliance between Churchill and Roosevelt. Part four covers the period November 1942 — December 1943, as plans for the invasion of France are discussed at length and ultimately agreed to. The readers sees a great deal of Churchill, Roosevelt and his aides, and Stalin. There is extended description of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Part five covers the period between December, 1943 and the Normandy invasion in June 1944. Part six takes the narrative from Normandy to the German and Japanese surrenders. Part seven, less detailed than the earlier parts, covers the years between 1945- 1955, including Churchill’s famed “iron curtain” speech in March,1946, in Fulton, Missouri, and his election as Prime Minister. The final brief part of the book covers the final ten years, 1955 — 1965, of Churchill’s long life.
There is a great deal to be learned about Churchill, about leadership, and heroism from this book. The most eloquent, moving sections of the work are sections covering early 1940 –1941, following the evacuation at Dunkirk. Great Britain truly stood alone for more than one year and was widely expected to fall to Hitler. That it did not was due in large measure to Churchill’s fortitude and strength and to the respect in which he was held by the subjects of Great Britain. The reader sees different aspects of Churchill as the war proceeds and the political and military situation develops. Manchester and Reid spend much time on the land, sea, and air wars, the different fronts in the Soviet Union, France, the Balkans, and Italy, and in the War with Japan. The book offers both a political and a military education about the events of the war years. The authors develop well the tension between the British, Churchillian view of the aims of the war and the views of President Roosevelt and the United States. The authors emphasize Churchillian’s devotion to the British Empire as contrasted with the American commitment to end colonialism. Hence to overall title of the Trilogy and characterization of Churchill as “The Last Lion”.
The book is lucidly written although in its length it flags in places. In its history, it taught me much about the world in which I have lived. I also learned a great deal about the dauntless figure of Winston Churchill. The authors portray him, and properly so, as the seminal figure of the 20th Century. This lengthy, thoughtful book will be worth the attention of readers who wish to understand the 20th Century and one of the few true 20th Century heroes.
Many readers of Paul Reid’s The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm will have a single overriding question as they crack open this enormous (1,000+ pages) book: is it worthy to sit beside its two magnificent predecessors in this three volume life and times of Sir Winston Churchill? I am happy to report that it is. Those who have waited over 20 years to see this work finally completed will be well satisfied with Reid’s volume, which is nearly as long as its predecessors combined.
As it was with Manchester’s volumes, Reid opens with a preamble on Churchill’s personality, lifestyle, family, and work habits. Totaling nearly 50 pages, it serves as a magnificent reintroduction to Churchill and readies the reader to rejoin Churchill as he enters the most important phase of his life: preparing England to play her great role as the lonely guardian of the freedoms we too often take for granted from 1940 until Hitler invaded Russia. Reid carefully explains how Churchill accomplished this, making clear why, for all his pettiness, oddities and foibles, he is, undoubtedly one of the most remarkable people ever to have lived. For without Churchill, the English likely would not have stood against Hitler. Had the English not stood against Hitler, he may well have had the strength to conquer Russia or at least expel her from Europe. Accomplishing that would have left him and the Nazi party rulers of the continent, and perhaps more, for decades. One shudders to contemplate the consequence of such an epoch.
Reid’s volume is not only a fine biography, but an extremely detailed account of World War II from the British perspective as well. Also, he decided to reverse Manchester’s decision to end his work with the termination of the War, extending his coverage to include Churchill’s post war career and life. As a result, the three volumes stand as a complete life and times of the Great Man. Like Manchester, Reid does not stint the little details that bring the reader into the story, making them feel as if they are weekending at Ditchley with Churchill as he works his magic on visiting American visitors to convince them of England’s will or in the front bench in the House of Commons while he is delivering one of his many famous orations.
You can’t write a history exceeding 1,000 pages without errors and Reid does not. For instance, Lyndon Johnson is identified as the “Majority Leader” of the House Armed Services Committee, playing a key role in Lend Lease. There is no such position nor was there any committee with that name until 1946. World War II buffs will likely raise other niggling errors that naturally arise when someone not steeped in its history attempts a retelling on this massive a scale. One also wishes for more than 100 or so pages on Churchill’s 20 year post war career in a book than devotes 950 pages to 1940-1945.
But to dwell on this is pettiness, and must be seen in the light of Reid’s magnificent gift to those of us who love to study Churchill. It may lack the aura of authority of Gilbert’s official biography or the succinctness of Addison’s brilliant short study. At the end of the day, though, Manchester/Reid’s 2500+ pages will allow us to come as close as possible to being in Churchill’s presence throughout his incredible life as any book can do. Accordingly, it joins its predecessors as an indispensable volume for Churchillians.
Paul Reid did such an outstanding job that I thought I was reading William Manchester thoughout the book, instead of just the first 100 pages. I hope Mr. Reid is satisfied with that critique and I think Mr. Manchester would have been. Defender of the Realm is a great book.
I’m just adding a few notes to the chorus of praise: At 1053 pages of closely printed text, this book takes some time to read, but not one minute is wasted. The scope of research, understanding of subject matter and presentation makes the book a worthy sequel to those produced by William Manchester.
I don’t believe that there has ever been a Churchill biography that so underscores how desperate the situation was for both Britain and Churchill during the early years of the Second World War and how decisions taken during that time could not forsee how events would eventually unfold or that Britain would even survive.
Millions of people truly believed and still do that Churchill was the last bulwark standing between them and a Nazi-dominated future. This book vividly makes clear why their adulation was justified. Reid has produced a study worthy of his subject. Read all three volumes if you never have.
Like many fans of The Last Lion, I was dismayed when William Manchester became ill and finally died, making it seem impossible we would ever see the final Volume of his wonderful biography. Well, Paul Reid picked up he gauntlet and he has done Manchester proud. Defender of the Realm is a wonderful book and I am sad it is the last. There is no greater work than great biography and Manchester/Reid have achieved its highest form. There are insights rarely seen relating to Hitler, the Phony War and the fall of France. They have taken a fresh look at the events of the day and bring the reader in as if they happened last week rather than over 70 years ago. Churchill is a terrific subject who is treated fairly and objectively by two scholars. This is a great book.
The Defender of the Realm, begun by William Manchester, finished by Paul Reid, is a worthy conclusion to the previous volumes of one of the greatest biographical trilogies in the English language. Paul Reid doesn’t bring to the table the unique storytelling flair of Manchester, but this doesn’t diminish the book’s value. Manchester’s perspective on Churchill was much like Churchill’s perspective on the French: both Manchester and Churchill sometimes failed to give due weight to the flaws in the object of their admiration. By being less enamored of Churchill, Reid, I think, does a better job of not glossing over Churchill’s weaknesses. The result is a more honest and objective view of the greatest Englishman of the 20th century.
The largeness of Churchill justifies the detail included in the book. There are no substantial historical or personal holes in the narrative.
One disappointment is that there are some noticeable editing errors. Compare, for instance, the excerpts of Churchill’s Dunkirk speech on p 86 against a recording of the speech that is easily accessible on YouTube, and you will find some sloppy omissions that affect the sense of the speech (e.g., in the book: “. . . Britain would ‘outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary, if necessary alone,’” vs. what Churchill actually said, “outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone”; there are other mistakes in the excerpt that follows). The editorial department at Little, Brown and Company gets no better than a “C” for such mistakes.
Despite this, however,, for anyone who admires and appreciates Winston Churchill, this volume stands in the first rank of anything ever written about the Last Lion.
“The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm: 1940-1965″ is the third and final volume of the late William Manchester’s magisterial study of England’s greatest citizen. This volume was largely authored by Paul Reid, a friend of Manchester who died before he could complete the massive work in 2003. Reid has thoroughly researched all of Manchester’s extensive notebooks and outlines of the last volume. Reid has magnificently succeeded in his effort producing a huge doorstopper of a book on Churchill and the entire course of World War II from the defeat at Dunkirk to the dropping off the bomb by the Americans on Hirsohima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
The book conculdes with a discussion of Churchill’s later years as he served Britain in his second term as Prime Minister devoting his time to painting and life at his estate Chartwell with Clementine his wife. Churchill also kept up with his four grown children: Randolph a drunk and trouble maker; Diane; Sarah and Mary.
This book is best read as the final chapter in the long story which begins in volume one. It can, however, be read with profit on its own estimable merits. The book is very long. 1053 pages of small printed text test the patience of readers to plow through the vast Churchillian field of World War II leadership of his embattled Britain. There are extensive footnotes and many period photos.
Churchill led Great Britian to victory though the first years of WW II were horrific; England sustained the defeat at Dunkirk; the battle of Britain; the Blitz; setbacks in North Africa, Crete, the Mediterranean; large shipping losses in the Atlantic and in Crete, Italy and Balkans Japan captured Singapore and the Burmese campaing was long and bloody. With the entering of the United States following Pearl Harbor the tide in favor of the Western Allies slowly and bloodily began to turn. The Soviet Union was attacked by Germany on June 22, 1941 as Mother Russia’s erstwhile wily and cruel ally launched a war to the death on Stalin’s vast empire. Somehow the Brits managed to hang on until victory was assured with the two behemoths the United States and Soviet Russia taking over the major share of the fight against Nazi Germany. Churchill supported De Gaulle’s free French forces though the egotistical French warrior was a decidedly sharp thorn in the old British Lion’s tough skin.
Highlights of the book include the meeting of the big three at Casablanca, Tehran, Yalta and Postsdam (Churchill soon to lose his seat as Prime Minister in a Labour landslide met and liked US President Harry Truman who replaced the late FDR.) Also of great interest was the long discussion of Operation Overlord (D Day invasion of June 6, 1944) and Operation Anvil the attack on southern France.
Churchill was a brilliant orator and watime leader though he was far from perfect. He was disdainful of persons of color and wanted the British Empire to keep India in the fold. He was pro Jewish and fought for a Jewish homeland in Israel. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature based on his multivolumed histories of World War I and World War II in addition to his nonmatched speeches inspiring his people to stay strong in the long struggle against evil.
This book takes a long time to read and digest but is well worth the effort. Winston Churchill is a hero of this reviewer. Highly recommended. The three volume set by Manchester is a classic in the field of political/military biography.
William Manchester’s third volume biography of Winston Spencer Churchill (WSC) Defender of the Realm 1940-1965 is based on his notes and assisted by journalist Paul Reid is a worthy addition and completes the 3 volume epic story of the life and history of WSC who along with FDR and Stalin led the Allies to victory against the Axis in WW II. It is an amazing story. This is a continuation of Manchester’s earlier works The Last Lion: Vision of Glory 1874-1932 and The Last Lion: Alone, 1932-1940 and completes the story. William Manchester met WSC on a cruise from Britain to America in the 1950′s and dedicated his life to capturing all the most salient aspects of the man many consider the person who saved Britain and for that matter Western Christian Civilization when it was at its most dire crisis in the 1939 – 1942 period. This is monumental work, well crafted and reads well. There appears to be no break in the prose style from Volume I thru Volume III which suggests that Mr. Reid studied Manchester’s style and rythm to capture his writing method flawlessly. Not easy to do. Manchester had wrote another great biography on General Douglas MacAuthur, American Ceasar published in 1976 which is widely accepted as the definitive work of this 5 star American general who saved South Korea from conquest and slavery by the communist forces of Kim Il Sung in 1950 when he proposed and persuaded the General Staff to accept the plan of the Inchon landing instead of abandoning the mainland as most American generals and policy makers thought was the best and only course of action. This roughly 3000 page work of Vol I thru III will be seen as the same for WSC in the decades to come. There are no similar works that read as well as this. None that even come close to this quality reading and I have read quite a few WSC biographies and his books (he wrote roughly 50).
I first became a Churchill fan when I was working in Lagos, Nigeria as an oil field expatriate in 1980 and there in the airport book store was Winston’s autobiography “My Early Life”. Nigeria being a former British Colony had a fair amount of symbols and artifacts of the British Empire even then. He wrote it in the 1920′s when he was in his early fifties. If you really want to understand WSC you need to read this work because it shows how incredible lucky he was and how he had one heck of a guardian angel who spared him time and again for greater glory later in life. He was in four wars by the time he was 25 including the last calvary charge of the British Empire in the Sudan in 1898. However I digress……..back to the last volume of Manchester’s work which after decades of being discussed and was thought dead because Manchester had a stroke was thought not able to finish it has now been published finally in the Year of our Lord 2012.
This volume begins with the invasion of France by the Germans in May of 1940. The Western allies of Belgium, France and Britain are in a defensive mode and seemingly in a strong position behind the Maginot Line. The allies are confident they are ready mainly; well, because they have more of everything except perhaps aircraft than Germany. They are thinking in WW I terms and this will cost them the Battle of France. Winston has just been appointed Prime Minister on May 10 which is the position he has assiduously sought most of his adult life and when he finally gets hold of the reigns of power it is a complete nightmare. As the Battle of France begins all seems well; but the Germans have a suprise in store for them. It is Manstein’s and Guderian’s plan (Case Yellow) to fake the main thrust thru Holland in a flanking attack thru the low lands. This is what Ally intelligence predicts Germany will do.
Instead the Germans put their strongest attack force with most of the panzers in the Ardennes which is deemed nearly impenetrable. Besides the massive thick woods there is the barrier of the large fast-flowing Meuse river to stop any breakthrough. Everything looks well thru the eyes of the Allies that they are ready for any sort of attack. The Germans though have seen the future and realize that if they can catch the allies unawares and use a secret weapon and better tactics they can break the allies in two. So they fake with a strong attack thru Holland (Army Group B) making it appear to be the main thrust and while the allies surge there they cut thru the Ardennes (Army Group A) to reach the Meuse River which appears to be strongly defended. It is not. The secret weapon is the 88MM gun – a high velocity gun that can penetrate thick concrete gun houses and the defending tanks situated on the opposite side of the river. The Germans use their engineers to quickly build pontoon bridges. Stuka dive bombers are also used to destroy French tanks surging to stop the crossing. The Wermarcht know to mass their panzers while the ally tanks are mostly scattered – another big Ally mistake. The allies are pushed back and scattered from the Meuse, the Wermarcht pours through and panic ensues as the panzers speed towards the Atlantic coast. Fuel needed for the panzers is obtained from French petrol stations. For perhaps 48 hours the Allies have no idea what has happened as they are still focused on Army Group B where they are convinced the main fighting is taking place such is the confusion at the top levels.
This is the dire situation that greets WSC in his beginning weeks as the PM in this Vol III. All hell has broken lose and his formidable ally – France has just received a mortal wound and the ally Belgium capitulates. According to WSC later in life he says that one of the biggest shocks of his life was after learning of the German breakthrough thru the Ardennes and the subsequent race to the channel by the same – He asked the French Military Leaders where their major reserves were to counter this breakthough. He was told that there was no such reserve forces to stop the panzers. All of this and more are covered in this wonderful book that has finally been released which covers the years 1940-1965 of the The Last Lion. Highest recommendation; you will not be disappointed. Strongly suggest you buy all three volumes of Manchester’s epic historical work and also buy WSC’s History of the English Speaking Peoples which won the Pulitzer prize in 1956 and which took WSC 20 years to write when he wasn’t leading the British Commonwealth forces against the Axis forces.
If there is something that WSC provides as a gift to future generations is that people should study history. Like historian Will Durant, WSC being the prolific student of history came to realize that history keeps repeating itself and that the more he studied history and the further he saw in the past; the further into the future he could see. This is most profound and is something that most people don’t understand; WSC came to realize this gradually thru his study of history. That was WSC’s special gift – the ability to see the future based on what he knew from the past because he studied it. He wasn’t always right and he made many errors but he kept coming back into the arena and he was right on the major issues in defense of his people.