A magnificently fresh and unexpected biography of Churchill, by one of Britain's most acclaimed historians
Winston Churchill towers over every other figure in twentieth-century British history. By the time of his death at the age of 90 in 1965, many thought him to be the greatest man in the world. There have been over a thousand previous biographies of Churchill. Andrew Roberts now draws on over forty new sources, including the private diaries of King George VI, used in no previous Churchill biography to depict him more intimately and persuasively than any of its predecessors. The book in no way conceals Churchill's faults and it allows the reader to appreciate his virtues and character in full: his titanic capacity for work (and drink), his ability see the big picture, his willingness to take risks and insistence on being where the action was, his good humour even in the most desperate circumstances, the breadth and strength of his friendships and his extraordinary propensity to burst into tears at unexpected moments.
Above all, it shows us the wellsprings of his personality - his lifelong desire to please his father (even long after his father's death) but aristocratic disdain for the opinions of almost everyone else, his love of the British Empire, his sense of history and its connection to the present.
During the Second World War, Churchill summoned a particular scientist to see him several times for technical advice. 'It was the same whenever we met', wrote the young man, 'I had a feeling of being recharged by a source of living power.' Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt's emissary, wrote 'Wherever he was, there was a battlefront.' Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Churchill's essential partner in strategy and most severe critic in private, wrote in his diary, 'I thank God I was given such an opportunity of working alongside such a man, and of having my eyes opened to the fact that occasionally such supermen exist on this earth.'
This terrific book, which bursts with character, humour and incident on almost every page ... is undoubtedly the best single-volume life of Churchill ever written -- Dominic Sandbrook * Sunday Times *
The best single-volume life imaginable -- Simon Heffer * Sunday Telegraph *
It's the sort of biography that, one feels, Churchill himself would have wanted. Colossal, energetic, deeply knowledgeable, properly critical, but also sympathetic and, in places, deliciously funny -- Noel Malcolm * Sunday Telegraph *
An original portrait of an all-too-familiar figure ... He enriches the saga with wonderful examples of Churchill's aristocratic eccentricity, glittering oratory and wit -- Piers Brendon * Literary Review *
Roberts has produced a more complete picture of his subject than any previous biography. His certainly knocks into a cocked hat Boris Johnson's boisterously self-referential effort of a few years ago * Economist *
A stupendous achievement: lucid, erudite, intelligent, but also inspiring. Roberts catches the imperishable grandeur of Churchill's life as no other historian has done -- Daniel Johnson * Standpoint *
As Andrew Roberts reminds us in this epic biography ... Churchill's career provides ample proof that fact can be far more extraordinary than fiction -- Nick Rennison * Daily Mail *
A work of unequalled scholarship. Read it and you will not have to bother with the previous 1,000 biographies -- Paul Routledge * Tablet *
A heroic biography, appropriately matched to the ambition, egotism and undoubted achievement of the life it describes -- John Campbell * Finest Hour *
Brilliant, breathtaking, unputdownable ... All Roberts's past life has been but a preparation for this hour and this work, and this brilliant book is a fitting crown to his own career -- Michael Gove * Evening Standard *
In a single volume, Andrew Roberts has captured the essence of one of the world's most impactful, most memorable statesmen. It is the crowning achievement of his career - and will become the definitive biography of its subject. -- Henry Kissinger