Winston Churchill, Myth and Reality: What He Actually Did and Said is now available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon. Excerpts from my remarks the Hillsdale College Churchill Conference, 20 February 2017. Videos are online for all presentations.
Myth and Reality
Not a day passes when Winston Churchill, who proved indispensable when liberty hung in the balance, is not accused of something dreadful. Charges range from alcoholism and racism to misogyny and warmongering. Frequently there is no documentation, only partial quotes selected to advance preconceived notions and canards. Winston Churchill: Myth and Reality, confronts this busy industry.…
It is depressing and disheartening for anyone who knows the barest facts to hear history told by actors, with reality turned on its head under guise of entertainment. Invented dialogue and scenarios are of course necessary for dramatic effect. Robert Hardy's scrupulously accurate portrayal of Churchill's "Wilderness Years" doesn't deviate an iota from fact or believability. Yet it is at least as dramatic as this latest dose of Fake History.
Anyone reading this knows where they were on 9/11/01. A diminishing number remember where they were on 1/30/65—the day we said farewell to Winston Churchill.
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.…