As today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill, but I am too busy to offer any new and/or original thoughts, I thought I might dig into my archives to post some relevant content.
A year ago today, I posted a discussion of two short books on Churchill: The Penguin Lives biography by John Keegan and a sort of repackaging and rethinking of Churchill essays by John Lukacs. Back then I struggled with how to capture the insights and issues contained in these two books. I decided to focus on one question: what is it that qualifies Churchill to be considered for such a lofty honor as Man of the Century?
Here is my conclusion:
In summary, Churchill recognized and understood the ramifications of the two great “armed doctrines” of the Twentieth Century and he heroically fought them when practically no one else would. His courage, leadership, and eloquent words revitalized the English people and inspired them to once again fight for freedom and dignity. If not for this courage and leadership Europe could easily have sunk into a dark and tragic time of dictatorship. It is hard to think of that time and realize that it could have been worse but it is true nonetheless. The history of our time pivoted in 1939 because Churchill would not yield the stage to Hitler. Civilization owes him a great debt for that moment. If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating man and his place in history I heartily recommend reading these two great books. You will come away with a greater knowledge of and a greater appreciation for both Winston Churchill and these difficult times.
If this interests you, read the rest. Or better yet check out the books.