St. Paul’s Cathedral, 30 January 1965….
For me it was a life-changing experience. Suddenly, unforgettably, on my flickering black and white TV screen in Staten Island, N.Y., the huge void of England’s grandest cathedral filled with The Battle Hymn of the Republic. He was, we were reminded, half-American, an honorary citizen by Act of Congress.
That day was the start of my 50-year career in search of Churchill—of what his greatest biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, describes as “labouring in the vineyard.”
After the funeral I picked up The Gathering Storm, the first volume of his World War II memoirs, and was snared by what Robert Pilpel called his “roast beef and pewter phrases.” It’s biased, as Churchill admitted—“This is not history; this is my case.” But it is ordered so as to put you at his side for the “great climacterics” that made us what we are today.…