A magazine fact checker writes asking if Churchill ever said, “Stalin never broke his word to me.” The short answer is yes. The long answer shows how careful we should be when quoting Churchill.
I am in the final stages of writing a book on the religious beliefs of post-World War II Presidents. In the chapter on Dwight Eisenhower, I wrote that although Eisenhower asked for the “blessing of Almighty God” on D-Day, few assessments of him would dwell on his religious character: “In fact, Eisenhower’s faith might be more accurately described by Winston Churchill’s remark that he had made “so many deposits in the Bank of Observance” as a youth that he had been confidently withdrawing from it ever since. Can you confirm the quotation? —D.H., Virginia
An recent article declares: “Winston Churchill once described American diplomacy as ‘a bull who carries his own china shop around with him.’” Is this an accurate quote, and if so, in relation too what? —L.K., Texas
The expression is frequently repeated, but in regard to Eisenhower’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, not American diplomacy. But it does not track among Churchill’s 15 million published words (books, articles, speeches, papers), or 35 million about him. The phrase “china shop” comes up 22 times, virtually all of them remarks by others about Churchill….…