Month: March 2012

How much did Churchill drink?

How much did Churchill drink?

Andy Klein asks whether William Man­ches­ter was being fac­tu­al or just cute when he wrote that Churchill was not a heavy drinker, despite the quan­ti­ties Man­ches­ter enumerated:

…the leg­end that he is a heavy drinker is quite untrue. Churchill is a sen­si­ble if unortho­dox drinker. There is always some alco­hol in his blood­stream and it reach­es its peak in the evening after he has had two or three scotch­es, sev­er­al glass­es of cham­pagne, at least two brandies, and a highball.

Man­ches­ter was right in the sense but wrong in the details. Churchill had an impres­sive capac­i­ty for alco­hol, but nobody saw him put that much away of an evening.…

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Churchill’s Biographers: Gilbert vs. Manchester

Churchill’s Biographers: Gilbert vs. Manchester

You Can’t Read One with­out the Other

A read­er asks for “a clear sum­ma­ry of Mar­tin Gilbert’s and William Manchester’s writ­ing styles, remind­ing me of the vast but com­ple­men­tary dif­fer­ence between Churchill’s two most famous biographers.

There are big dif­fer­ences between them, but both should be read for a full appre­ci­a­tion of Churchill. In 1986, as Man­ches­ter was com­plet­ing Vol­ume II of The Last Lion, he received an encour­ag­ing note from Gilbert: “Our work pro­ceeds on par­al­lel tracks.”

William Man­ches­ter

Man­ches­ter was a lit­er­ary styl­ist of the first mag­ni­tude, which is quick­ly appar­ent from the sonorous, emo­tive, rolling phras­es of The Last Lion, reflect­ing the skill that ear­li­er brought us Death of a Pres­i­dent and Amer­i­can Cae­sar, his mas­ter­piece on Dou­glas MacArthur.…

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