Review by Martin Koenigsberg

Just finished my 100th Book Review of the Year!!

I gotta say this is the most bizarre “Biography” of Churchill I have read- and I have read a few. I guess the author David Mason- took the brief of the series he was writing for this is “War Leader” Book number 16 in the Ballantine’s Illustrated History of the Violent Century – literally. The book starts with his ascension to the Office of the Prime Minister – does a tiny bit of his history before that- then plunges into his management of the war. Then it ends with his defeat at the polls at the war’s end. Churchill had been dead for seven years when this book came out in 1972- but I still thought it a strange way to discuss one of the most important and controversial characters on WWII and the 20th Century writ large. It’s good if a bit hagiographical at times, and certainly shows its age to the modern reader. Mason is a pro at Military History- wrote several of the Ballantine’s series, but he really hews close to the mythology/legend of Churchill as much as possible. More about the feelings of the British populace with less evidence than some other writers. Perhaps he felt constrained by the 160 page format, or perhaps in the mid Cold War period- that’s what would sell. At any rate to the modern reader, it seems lean and gauze-covered. I think it’s a good starting point to a study of the statesman/politician- but one needs to be consumed with at least one other source. There are no adult themes save politics and no graphic injury passages, so this is a fine book for the Junior reader over about 10/11 years with some adult guidance. For the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast, more of an interesting background book- but not a direct reference. Unless you are in an RPG game as Churchill – I can’t think this would be directly applicable. For the general reader an interesting book on Churchill- not an authoritative text.
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