About

I never planned to be a “his­to­rian.” I was a Chem­istry drop-out at Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute (1960), a fail-safe grad­u­ate of Wag­ner Col­lege (1963), a 120-day-wonder U.S. Coast Guard offi­cer (1964-67), and a bored bureau­crat at the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Health (1967-70). Chance sale of a car arti­cle landed me an edi­tor­ship at Auto­mo­bile Quar­terly, then in its hey­day. There, with the help of two bril­liant edi­tors, Don Vor­der­man and Bev­erly Kimes, I got into my bones the essen­tials of writ­ing his­tory. I left AQ to free­lance in 1975 and have been, as my wife likes to remind me, unem­ployed ever since.

Sleep­less in Har­ris­burg, I began col­lect­ing stamps and founded the Churchill Study Unit, to inves­ti­gate Churchill com­mem­o­ra­tive postage, in 1968. Three years later it became the Inter­na­tional Churchill Soci­ety, a broader orga­ni­za­tion for any­one inter­ested (pro and con) in Win­ston Churchill, his life and times, and edit­ing its quar­terly, Finest Hour. I left the Soci­ety to oth­ers in the 1970s in single-minded pur­suit of an obses­sion with old cars. I wrote, co-wrote or pub­lished  54 books and 2000 arti­cles on auto­mo­tive history—American, Eng­lish and Euro­pean, most of them “pot­boil­ers,” but a few have stood the test of time: Kaiser-Frazer: Last Onslaught on Detroit, Tri­umph Cars, The Stude­baker Cen­tury, The Ency­clo­pe­dia of Amer­i­can Cars, The Com­plete Book of Col­lectible Cars, GM: 100 Years, and Packard: A His­tory of the Motor­car and the Company.

Bar­bara, Richard and “Gatsby,” a 1936 Packard Model 999 One Twenty con­vert­ible owned 2005-13. Gatsby now resides in Germany.

For me, Packard built the grand­est cars in Amer­ica. I had the honor to serve as edi­tor of The Packard Cor­morant from 1975 through 2001, and have been a trustee of the Packard Motor­car Foun­da­tion since 2003. I was betimes edi­tor of The Mile­stone Car, The Vin­tage Tri­umph and Car Clas­sics mag­a­zines, and sam­pled about forty col­lec­tor cars. For eight years I owned a won­der­ful 1936 Packard One Twenty con­vert­ible named “Gatsby,” now in Germany.

With part of the pro­ceeds I bought a body-off restora­tion, a 1953 Stude­baker Com­man­der Star­liner with stick over­drive, which gives us longer legs on the inter­states to attend old car tours well away from home. The Star­liner was designed for Ray­mond Loewy by my old friend Bob Bourke, who is no longer with us. I wish he could to see this beau­ti­ful car, the high point, I believe, of Amer­i­can pro­duc­tion styling in the 1950s:

Our 1953 Stude­baker Com­man­der Star­liner at the Mount Wash­ing­ton, Hotel, Bret­ton Woods, N.H.: Robert Bourke’s immor­tal lines still look mod­ern after all these years.

In 1981 the door­bell rang and Win­ston Churchill was stand­ing there (fig­u­ra­tively). I had dug out an old box of stamps and picked up his won­der­ful auto­bi­og­ra­phy, My Early Life: exag­ger­ated, ego­tis­ti­cal and not quite accu­rate, but in Harold Nicolson’s words, “like a beaker of cham­pagne.”  I revived the Churchill Soci­ety, mori­bund since 1975, and pro­duced a new issue of its jour­nal Finest Hour. Lit­tle did I imag­ine that by this small club would morph into an insti­tu­tion ded­i­cated “to fos­ter­ing lead­er­ship, states­man­ship, vision and bold­ness among demo­c­ra­tic and freedom-loving peo­ples through the thoughts, words, works and deeds of Win­ston Spencer Churchill,” or that Finest Hour would grow to 64 pages, or that I would sur­vive 140 quar­terly deadlines.

Along the way I began col­lect­ing Churchill’s books and, because I couldn’t get enough, was a Churchill spe­cial­ist book­seller from 1982 to 2004, when I sold the busi­ness to Chartwell Book­sellers in New York City. I pub­lished an Amer­i­can edi­tion of Churchill’s rare 1931 book, India (1991), A Connoisseur’s Guide to the Books of Sir Win­ston Churchill (1998) and five books of quo­ta­tions, Win­ston Churchill by Him­self (2008), The Defin­i­tive Wit of Win­ston Churchill (2009). The Patriot’s Churchill (2010),  All Will Be Well: Good Advice from Win­ston Churchill (2011), and Churchill in His Own Words (2012). I am now writ­ing what I hope will be the first of sev­eral “Kin­dle Sin­gles” on spe­cial aspects of the Churchill saga.

Retir­ing as edi­tor of Finest Hour after the Autumn 2014 edi­tion, I joined Hills­dale Col­lege, pub­lish­ers of Sir Winston’s Offi­cial Biog­ra­phy, as a Senior Fel­low for the Churchill Project. It was a delight to join my old friend, Hills­dale Pres­i­dent Larry Arnn, where Win­ston Churchill has a good and per­ma­nent home. Together with many bright young people—I call them the A-team—we are plan­ning new, excit­ing edu­ca­tional pro­grams on Churchill’s life and phi­los­o­phy, reach­ing thou­sands through sem­i­nars, con­fer­ences, online courses, web events, and stream­ing video. Click here for more details and go to “Appear­ances” for upcom­ing events.

Richard Langworth, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Light­house Point, as far south as you can get on Eleuthera, where you can just see the north­ern tip of Cat Island to the south on a per­fectly clear day.

And now for some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent. In 2003 we built a house on Eleuthera, Bahamas, which we’ve loved since we landed there in 1981, where Bar­bara and I now spend four months a year, writ­ing, play­ing, and edit­ing our local prop­erty own­ers asso­ci­a­tion newslet­ter, The Rain­bow Times.

In 1998 Her Majesty the Queen saw fit to reward me with a CBE (Com­man­der of the Most Excel­lent Order of the British Empire), “for ser­vices to Anglo-American under­stand­ing and the mem­ory of Sir Win­ston Churchill.” What does one say to such an hnoor? Only Churchill’s words when he received the Nobel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture in 1953: “I am proud, but also I must admit, awestruck at your deci­sion to include me. I do hope you are right. I feel we are both run­ning a con­sid­er­able risk and that I do not deserve it. But I shall have no mis­giv­ings if you have none.”

It has been an honor—and cer­tainly the only likely credit on my cre­ma­tory urn—to devote a career to Win­ston Churchill, the Wash­ing­ton or Lin­coln of his cen­tury; to rise above the triv­ial and the leg­endary, above the frothy soap opera pic­ture, above the mem­o­ra­bilia, above even the blood, toil, tears and sweat; to defend his rep­u­ta­tion from carpers and cranks; to show that warts and all, Churchill was one of a kind—a politi­cian who not only talked, but thought—not just the per­son of a cen­tury, but of a millennium.

Richard and Ian Lang­worth with their guest Lady Soames, New Hamp­shire, 1992. For more on that grand lady see https://richardlangworth.com/soames. for Ian’s accom­plish­ment decades later, see www.artillery.com.

Churchill wrote of the cul­mi­nat­ing event of his life, the night he became Prime Min­is­ter, 10 May 1940: “I thought I knew a good deal about it all, and was sure I should not fail.” Well, that is what this web­site is about: an oppor­tu­nity to share what I know; to answer ques­tions; to set the record right (and Churchill was not always right); to poke curi­ously into obscure cor­ners of his­tory; to learn more myself—and to com­mu­ni­cate with Churchill­lians, car nuts, Bahamian adven­tur­ers, an eclec­tic mix—but I do know a good deal about it all.

We once referred to the seven (count ’em) peo­ple who sub­scribed to both my Churchill and Packard mag­a­zines as “The Sainted Seven Sub­scribers.” And that is what you are: a Sainted Web-Browser, for hav­ing landed here at richardlangworth.com. I hope the visit will reward you in some pleas­ant or use­ful way.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Langworth February 6, 2015 at 13:02

The Irish Potato Famine was between 1845 and 1852. Churchill was born in 1874. Wow, I had no idea he had such a reach! Why, I’ll bet we can even pin the Inquisition on him. Reply is at http://bit.ly/1IilsJe.

Quite right that there have been no major famines since 1943. And no World Wars since 1945. Pulitzer nominee Arthur Herman: “Of all the people who ignored the Bengal famine, perhaps the most curious case is Mohandas Gandhi. For all his reputation as a humanitarian, Gandhi did remarkably little about the emergency. The issue barely comes up in his letters, except as another grievance against the Raj–which, in peacetime, had always handled famines with efficiency.” Herman correctly concludes that Gandhi was playing for higher stakes—as was Churchill. The Axis had far different things in mind for India than the old Raj. http://bit.ly/mh2aox

Richard Langworth January 16, 2015 at 15:34

Sean, that’s truly an amazing coincidence. I will have to post a pic of my Starliner, which replaced my Packard. Wow, quite a risk to have one of those rusters down here! I wrote about the Carrera over the years–would like to see your car! Jonathan will tell you where to find me.

Sean January 15, 2015 at 00:48

Small world indeed! I’m a Bahamian living in Nassau but intent on buying a second home in Eleuthera (drawn to Rainbow Bay which Jonathon Morris has taken me round several times to look at various properties) and my most prized toy – get this – is a 1953 Studebaker Commander Starlight ex Carrera Panamericana (heavily modified (with NASCAR spec engine) for that event which it competed in twice in 2000 and 2003 with the previous owners). I took it down to Eleuthera last year as part of the Bahamas Antique Auto Club’s contingent to the Ali Antique Car Show in Hatchet Bay. Had a great time. Delighted to come across your website.
Congratulations on your many fine achievements
Hopefully I will get to meet you one of these days. Sean

anthony January 22, 2012 at 10:34

This page is now at the top of my favorites. What a great read!

Perry Joseph September 29, 2010 at 23:39

We share a common interest: Eleuthera

Enjoyed reading some of your blog, especially about the fishing lake. Missed that point of interest and will have to be sure to check it out on my next visit.

Thanks for sharing the information.

pj

Monty Waters July 29, 2010 at 16:44

Richard,
I’m pleased to catch up on your life since we last corresponded.
I was a member of the ICS during your editorship of Finest Hour, a sometime customer of your bookstore, and a person who has purchased at least two of your Churchill books. You once gave me some advice about selling a set of official biography companion volumes to another bookseller (who shall remain nameless), that were spot on.

I love old cars and have a large collection of books about them, somehow I’ve avoided yours, but my interests are mainly of foreign cars. Furthermore I’m suprised to learn that, like me you actually have a background in public health, though you gave it up for more interesting pursuits, alas, I lack your talents in writing: I think.

I qualify my statement because I’m now researching a biography of my grandfather, who was a Texas Ranger and marshal in far west Texas 1916-1920. It might not be very good but I know it will be read by his numerous descendants.

My best wishes to you and your lovely wife.

Monty Waters

Edmund Onward James January 21, 2010 at 18:32

I am pleased to subscribe to The Churchill Centre And Museum… and I have linked your review of the fascinating and superb film — The Gathering Storm — on my weblog piece with the same title.

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