Not a day passes when Sir Winston Churchill, who proved himself indispensable when freedom needed him, is not accused of something, from alcoholism to war crimes—often without serious attribution, or through selective quotes, arranged and cropped so as to advance the preconceived notion.
On that electronic Speakers’ Corner we know as the Internet, Churchill bubbles in a gurgling, digital soup, where he can say anything, or do anything, from hiding his foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor to firebombing Dresden.
It is not that Churchill was never wrong. He was prominent on the political scene for fifty years. His mistakes like his virtues were on a grand scale—but the latter outweighed the former, and the quantity of the former is exaggerated.
Since Churchill wrote 15 million published words, and saved every scrap of paper in an archive of one million documents, he made it easy for some researchers to dig out and isolate what they say are feet of clay. But that same archive offers searchers for the truth the full context—one only has to do one’s research.
Alas not everyone does. Some who purport to be fair will first tee up Churchill as the savior of 1940—then tear him down with the familiar litany: his racist views; his penchant for chemical warfare; his desire to nuke the Russians; the rude things he said about Gandhi and women’s suffrage; the Dardanelles operation in World War I.
A well-known professor of history recently stated that Churchill hated the Conservative Party. Churchill served that party for most of his life and led it through his decisive and final years. How could this be an accurate summary of his views? All the more astonishing, this was proclaimed during a meeting of organizations supposedly devoted to Churchill’s legacy.
A recurrent slander is the claim Churchill sent the Army against striking miners in Tonypandy, Wales, recently restated by a prominent Member of Parliament. In fact he sent policemen, armed with mackintoshes–and was criticized by The Times for being too lenient.
A recent book by a distinguished historian suggests that Churchill disdained common people. It cites another Prime Minister providing a tow to a broken-down motorist and giving two children a lift. We are told: “It is hard to imagine Winston Churchill behaving in such a fashion.” It is not hard at all. Click here.
The aim of this book is to skewer the most popular outrageous allegations against Winston Churchill, and by so doing, to reveal what he really thought—about subjects and issues that are often still on our minds today.
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