Book Review: Winston S. Churchill: The Official Biography

Kunk Fu Zoby Kung Fu Zu6/3/15
By Randolph Churchill and Martin Gilbert  •  Some weeks back, I received an e-mail from Hillsdale College announcing the re-publication, by the Hillsdale Press, of the official eight-volume Churchill biography. I was given the opportunity to download the complete set onto my Kindle reader for free, which I immediately did.

I am now 2/3rds through volume three and believe I have read enough to make an informed opinion on the overall project.

I have read both volumes of Manchester’s Churchill biography, “The Last Lion”, and was sorely disappointed that Manchester was not able to complete his series. Yet, from what I have read so far, the official biography is a superior and more important piece of scholarship. It is true the Manchester work gives a good feel for Churchill the man, particularly the romantic streak which was so much a part of his makeup. But for a serious student of history, it does not come close to what I am now reading.

ChurchhillBioIn his introduction, Randolph Churchill makes clear that he wishes to “let his father be his own biographer.” He does this by using letters, diaries, reports, memoranda and personal recollections of Churchill and those who were around him. In the first volume, which covers the years 1874 to 1900, one first hears the voices of young Winston, those of his parents, close relatives, school friends and teachers. Once Churchill leaves Harrow, one hears the voices of his military comrades, commanders and of those who see Churchill from the outside such as reporters and politicians.

This “biography by documents” is carried forward into volume 2, which was the last one Churchill’s son completed before his death. The years 1901-1914 are covered in this book. By this time, Winston has already gained fame through his own actions. He resigns his commission in the army and is determined to make his way in politics. There is no doubt that his father’s example has had a profound effect on him, and he means to vindicate his father’s memory.

Not one to be circumspect, Churchill jumps into politics with both feet. The young boy who showed a lack of drive has become a man obsessed. He is blessed with tremendous energy and a facile pen. Enormously ambitious, he is a perpetual motion machine churning out words, both written and spoken, at a rapid pace. He starts out a Tory like his father, but changes parties to become a Liberal, he claims, for reasons of political differences. But one cannot help believing that he is also motivated by a tremendous grudge he holds against the Tories for his father’s fall from grace within the party.

Churchill takes on the Liberal mantel with the zealousness of a convert. He uses every opportunity to castigate and belittle the Tories in print, parliament and at public events. For this, his hard work and intelligence, he is rewarded with ever increasing power and responsibility in the Liberal party and then government. He is so successful, that he attains the position of First Lord of the Admiralty in his late thirties. This is one of the most powerful positions in the cabinet. In this office, he performs very well and is able to reorganize the Royal Navy and bring it into readiness for WWI.

After completing the second volume, Randolph Churchill died. The project was then taken over by Sir Martin Gilbert who had worked with Randolph as a researcher on the first two volumes. Sadly, Sir Martin died in February this year.

Volume 3 covers the years 1914-1916. Although he was originally friendly to German interests, Churchill becomes convinced Germany’s long term intents are at odds with those of the British Empire, as well as being a potential danger to Europe. He pushes through expanded naval budgets, which were poison to many of his fellow Liberals. Once the war breaks out, Churchill, who is by far the youngest and most energetic cabinet minister, becomes a major force in the execution of the war.  A workhorse, he not only has responsibility for the Admiralty, he also takes it upon himself to stick his fingers into many other areas which were not in his bailiwick. His brashness and interference did not endear him to many of his colleagues.

An example of this is well known. Although First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill was instrumental in development of the tank. This was a project outside his purview, and thought by many in the army and War Office to be a waste of time and money. The Allies can be thankful for his interference. For trivia lovers, just a note on how the term “tank” came into being. The “tank” was originally developed as a vehicle which could cut through barbed wire and cross trenches. To keep the project under wraps, Churchill and his assistants came up with the story that this vehicle was  a water carrier. This was shortened to W.C.  Seeing this, one officer suggested this be shortened to “tank”.  Such is the development of language.

Volume 3 goes into great detail regarding the infamous Dardanelles campaign, which turned out to be so costly in troops and materiel. I will only say that Churchill was unfairly blamed for the failure of that venture and, indirectly, this eventually led to his resignation from the cabinet.

For those of us who mistakenly believe things are different today, volume 3 shows that human nature is constant.  One sees the Tory opposition doing its best to undermine the Liberal war cabinet, taking special relish in attacking the turncoat Churchill. Within the Liberal cabinet, backbiting, petty differences, lethargy and incompetence reign.  For at least the first two years of the war, it would appear Prime Minister Asquith and others were dilettantish in running the show. This could not be said about Churchill.

Randolph Churchill, particularly, has done a wonderful job of getting out of the way and letting his father and his father’s contemporaries speak for themselves. Once or twice, I was tempted to skip over some of these person notes, but decided to stick with it and read them all. I was rewarded by doing so.  Clearly, the biographer carefully chose each document to illustrate the steady growth and development of his subject.

This is, not only, one of the most interesting and important biographies I have ever read, it is also one of the best historical studies I have come across.  What I found particularly informative was the extensive use of personal information from the main characters. As a student of history, I have always maintained that much of history turns on the intimate, private characters of and relations between people. The broad narrative approach to history does not tell us everything.

If you are interested in either Churchill or British history from the late Victorian age until the end of WWII, I recommend you read this masterful work. I plan to finish all eight volumes. • (5448 views)

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115 Responses to Book Review: Winston S. Churchill: The Official Biography

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Do they explain why Churchill decided to give up his military career? I know he was a journalist in the South African (aka Second Boer) War; had he already decided by then?

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Like Julius Caesar, Churchill basically saw his military career as a tool for his political ambitions.

      He had not done well enough in school to gain entrance to Oxford or Cambridge. To go into business would have been socially below him, so the military seemed to be the way to go. Again, his performance at Harrow precluded his entering the Royal Engineering school so he took the tests for entering Sandhurst and after the third try gained entrance. It should be noted that he did well at Sandhurst and graduated in the top 5% or 10% of his class.

      After a few years in the Hussars he decided to resign his commission. He could not really afford the costs of the life of a calvary officer and didn’t see it as a long term profession.

  2. Steve Lancaster says:

    If Churchill had done nothing more than provide leadership during the second world war he would be remembered by historians. If he had done nothing more than say, “we will fight them, on the beaches, we will fight them . . .” he would be remembered for rhetoric as moving as Shakespeare. However, he did so much more and the freedom that we hold dear is owed, in part, to all that he did even the mistakes as like all of us he was only human.

    Thanks for the review.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have continued reading volume 3 and have reached the point where Churchill, after his resignation from the government, has arrived on the front lines in France. After over a month with a Guards regiment, and with his contacts in the GHQ, he has been up and down the line, studying miles of trenches and how the war is fought. He has spent many days and nights with the fighting solder in the mud and cold so he is not simply taking a holiday.

    On one particular trip to study the far end of the British lines, he has a look at the French positions with a young British officer with whom he had become friendly. Thankfully, this man, Spiers, kept a diary and this is an excerpt written on this trip.

    We were both very struck by the rats that we saw. They were appalling things; they were huge. Winston pointed out that they played a very useful role by eating human bodies-it was quite true. At the time of the German retreat to the Hindenburg line there were 15 to 20 miles of trenches left empty. The rats were everywhere. I have driven over roads where you squashed rats as you went along. Had you fallen in a trench you would never have got out alive. They would have devoured you. One heard them all night running about in the barbed wire.

    I wanted to give readers an idea of the conditions which front-line solders faced during WWI.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’ve read a number of books on World War I, and I don’t recall rats coming up in them. Winston Smith would definitely have freaked out — but then, so might many of us. (I recall Bill Mauldin’s comment that the bad part of staying in barns during World War II was the rats, noting that it wasn’t bad when they just scuttled around but very unpleasant when they got too curious. “A rat loves nothing better than carrying on a conversation in Braille.” Nasty.)

      One might also note that the top leadership (which Churchill admittedly no longer was at that point) almost never visited the trenches. They had no idea of life there, or of the conditions in which they sent men forward (such as the mud of the Third Battle of Ypres).

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    If this site could be nothing more, it would be for great reviews such as this. I’m slapping myself on the forehead for not being there when these were offered for free at Hillsdale College online.

    I can’t say much more about Churchill. I have seen a couple good documentaries of him lately and started the Kindle sample of Volume I of this bio. I think Mr. Kung is right that he used the military as a stepping-stone to his political career. That said, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t quite brave and competent. Apparently he was. I mean, basically the guy invented (or pushed to the point of being its mother) the idea of the tank.

    His politics seemed opportunistic. He switched parties. He was hardly, as I recall, an enemy of British socialism. But he put a hell of a dent in National Socialism for which he’ll forever be remembered…except to traitors to our culture such as our own president, may his name be blotted from our history.

    But Churchill’s name will not be forgotten. As Steve said, he was instrumental in protecting Western freedom. It’s so sad to see the big picture, to see Britain conquer National Socialism only to give in to their own brand of socialism. She is now a sick country (although there are those far sicker in Europe).

    What I found fascinating about one of the documentaries of him was that Churchill and his wife both had a sense of great destiny for him. You can see his time in the military, his switching of parties, and his minor scandals or political setbacks — all as a way of Providence biding its time until the stage was set for him. There is indeed a sense of destiny to him, as with George Washington, that is difficult to deny.

    I’ve read about a third of his account of the western front in India fighting the Muslim nuts there. And Churchill describes them well. He knew who the Communists were and he knew who the Muslims were. Whatever weaknesses he had (and we all are indeed human), he wasn’t a useful idiot. Look at how embarrassing it is to have leaders such as Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. Compare the fools of our generation with the true leaders such as Churchill. (And, of course, they had their Hillary-type creatures and fools in people such as Neville Chamberlain).

    I mentioned to a young man tonight at a Little League game (he’s a bookworm and the son of a friend) the name of Winston Churchill. He’d never heard of him, although perhaps that’s expecting too much of a ten-year-old. But you wonder if they teach history in school anymore. Luckily this kid loves to read and I’m sure he’ll advance to those kinds of history, despite our increasingly dysfunctional government school system.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      That said, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t quite brave and competent.

      From many different eyewitness reports, Churchill was almost recklessly brave. In my last night’s readings alone, I read recollections from a couple of different soldiers who served with Churchill. Both said he had no physical fear of death.

      But he was not only brave. He was curious and constantly trying to get to the bottom of why things were done in the military. He also constantly tried to come up with ways to improve Britain’s war-making abilities as well as protect it’s soldiers and sailors.

      As to his political flexibility, well I will just say that volume 3 makes very clear how dirty the business of politics really is. Human beings are often two-faced, dishonest and duplicitous, but the difference between the public protestations and their private musings show that politicians take these human failings to an art form. Egotism and self-serving are taken to utter extremes. The grasping for and need to hold on to power leads to a complete lack of honor in them. And while I think Churchill may not have been as bad as most, he was certainly tarred by this brush.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        In the introduction or forward to Volume I, Randolph said he wasn’t going to be pulling any punches. Apparently that is so.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        This is why Bismarck allegedly said that no one should ever see laws or sausages being made.

  5. Anniel says:

    Master Kung Fu: We inherited some old books from Bear’s mother several years ago. One of them was Winston Churchill’s first published work “The Way West.” I was so excited and immediately sat down to read it, expecting, of course, the wonderful Churchilian majestic prose. After about 4 chapters it dawned on me that every great writer starts someplace, even Churchill. I’m glad I read it though. He got it u blushed and never stopped doing better.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      “The Way West.”

      I do not recall the specific title, but this must be the book he wrote in his late teens or early twenties.

      Churchill’s son Randolph, used much of his father’s childhood correspondence in volume 1 of the biography. By doing this, he was able to clearly show Churchill’s growth and development. His childhood letters are no different from what one would expect from any kid. Somewhere around his 15th to 16th year, his use of language begins to blossom. Like most people, he probably copied what passed for sophisticated writing of the day. And even in his later years he could be windy, because he was often paid by the word. But when he was so inclined, he really could turn out some excellent prose. And he could do this at a very rapid pace.

  6. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have finished vol. iv thus am half way through the full biography.

    If one had to describe Churchill in a word I would chose, “ambitious”. But of course, ambition alone will take a person only so far. The man had an incredible amount of energy and an incredible work ethic. Furthermore, he was able to churn out the well written word at an enormous rate.

    From the late 1890’s through 1922, which is the year the fourth volume ends with, Churchill was involved in just about every important foreign event or policy connected to the British Empire. From the Sudan under Kitchener, through the Boer War, to WWI, to Irish independence, Churchill was there.

    He became a government minister shortly after turning thirty, becoming under-secretary of state for the Colonial Office. This was followed by appointments as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, (at 37-38) Minister of Munitions, Secretary of War and Secretary of Air and finally Colonial Secretary, which he resigned at 47-48.

    He was not just a seat warmer in any office and made important decisions while occupying each. Contrary to the image many people have of him, he was what today would be considered a moderate Democrat as regards domestic policies. Even as regards foreign policy he was not the fire-eater many seem to think he was. He was friendly to Germany before WWI and thought a magnanimous peace should be made with Germany after the war. He was very important in the formation of the Irish Free State dealing with Michael Collins to push the agreement through against de Valera’s opposition.

    He did his best to strangle the Bolshevik demon in it’s crib, but had to fight both the Left and Right in Britain to do so. And he finally had to give up.

    He did all this while being very sensitive to government expenditure. He was a fierce cutter of waste and budgets in general.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone like that in our government today?

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I can certainly think of worse alternatives — such as every single Demagogue and most of the GOP leadership. (Commenting on Kevin Williamson’s latest diatribe against Trump, I pointed out that such support as Trump gets comes from people angry at the fecklessness of the congressional leaders, who can’t bring themselves to stand up to the Obamacrats.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks for the synopsis. Clearly he was an accomplished man. Clearly few men had such an impact on the modern world (others were Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Roosevelt, and, in my opinion, Admiral Nimitz).

      It would seem that Churchill, which is true of many conservatives (which he sometimes was), was most effective as an anti-Communist and anti-fascist. From what I understand, his domestic policies were a mixed bag. I don’t think he opposed socialism with the same vigor he opposed the Nazis.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Churchill called himself a “Tory Democrat”. He started out in the Tory party, which was where his father made a name and later failed.

        He left the Tories, mainly over the Irish question, and joined the Liberals. While with the Liberals he pushed through a fair amount of social legislation on child labor, length of work days, etc.

        I would call him a progressive, but not a Leftist. When he entered politics, there was virtually no Labour party. This changed over the years and by 1922 or 1923 the first Labour prime minister came to office.

        Churchill did not like Labour and clearly called them socialists. In his speeches he would sometimes come close to comparing them to Bolsheviks who he really despised.

        At the start of volume 5, he is beginning to move back toward the Tories and will leave the Liberals and Lloyd George behind.

        As to Nazi’s, I think he hated them because they were racial socialists. Much of their philosophy was based on social Darwinism and utterly ruthless.

        It should not be forgotten that Churchill had strong connections to Jews from an early period. I believe the first parlimentary seat he won was in a part of Manchester with a large Jewish of voters. He was also for the Balfour Letter promising Jews a homeland. But that didn’t stop him from basically calling Bolshevism a blood thirsty semitic plague.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Okie doke. You mean that Churchill was a complex man in complex times? 😀

          He didn’t particularly like Stalin or Communism either. He was beating the drum warning against the threat and, as you know, coined the term “iron curtain.” No wonder Obama had to get rid of Churchill’s bust. Obama *is* the curtain, or another drapery in it.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I want to mention that there is a Nimitz museum in Fredericksburg, Texas. Elizabeth and I visited it in 1997. I will also note that liberalism in Europe still has a meaning of freedom as well as equality.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That’s good to know. I rate Nimitz so highly because he did so much in the Pacific theater when we had so relatively little. He took some bold chances and certainly was part of devising and/or implementing a very effective (if costly) plan for island-hopping their way to Japan.

          I’ll have to read a biography of him. Surely he did not act alone, and Bull Halsey was another big part of the winning campaign.

          But imagine hacks such as Obama or some of the politically correct generals and admirals of today engaging the enemy back then. The Japanese would have had them for lunch. In my opinion, Nimitz is a sometimes forgotten figure in regards to his overall importance to winning the war.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I wouldn’t want to forget some of the other important fleet commanders in the Pacific, especially Spruance and Kinkaid. (I have biographies of Nimitz and Halsey, and I think Spruance as well.)

            Incidentally, Hanson Baldwin in Battles Lost and Won had an interesting treat in his coverage of Leyte Gulf: comments by Halsey and Kinkaid. They definitely weren’t happy with each other, which made for some very interesting comments.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I noticed the first book, but I don’t think I ever saw it at a price I was willing to pay.

    When I’m done reading the book about the 100-year-old man, and perhaps done with Cannery Row as well, I’m going to read the free sample of the Kindle version of Pacific Crucible. It sounds like a splendidly themed book — the six months between Pearl Harbor and Midway. Wow. A lot must have happened in that brief time.

    Had we not won decisively at Midway — or perhaps even lost — that certainly would have delayed our Pacific campaign. But I doubt it would have been much other than a setback, a lost battle in a larger war. We were playing craps with the aircraft carriers we had, taking a chance — but perhaps knowing that we were preparing to crank out carriers if not monthly then on a fast schedule.

    But the end of the war, we gad a gazillion aircraft carriers and other ships in the Pacific. It’s arguable there will never be that kind of convention naval might again.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I know of at least one alternate-history novel about the Japanese winning at Midway, MacArthur’s War by Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson. But they also compensated the US for its loss by providing the accidental discovery of skip-bombing at Midway. (I described this in my review as the author giving and the author taking away, since the author plays the role of God in a novel — something done more explicitly by L. Ron Hubbard in Typewriter in the Sky and by Andrew J. Offutt in Ardor on Aros.)

  8. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I am about a third of the way through vol. 5, thus have followed Churchill through some ups and downs in his life. Of course he was a very ambitious and energetic man. This is not uncommon in politicians. But by now, it is clear Churchill has some other very admirable traits.

    The man did not hold grudges and was not vindictive. He would fight like the dickens for his point, but if he was defeated, he did not stay mad. He was quite willing to compromise if it helped get the bulk of a budget or law passed, as he understood the importance of cooperation in government. Only on fundamental points was he unbending. These included tariff policy, he was a stanch free-trader, and India. And I would say he was much misunderstood on India. He was for allowing provinces to rule themselves under an overall British umbrella. And he was genuinely concerned about the rights of the untouchables and Muslims as well as a general breakdown of law in the event of Indian independence. Sadly, the death of between 1 and 2 million people within six months of August 1947 proved him to be correct in this regard.

    Over the last few chapters Churchill has slowly drifted from the Conservative Party. First, while Chancellor of the Exchequer he fights with the Beaverbrook wing which wishes to impose high import tariffs on all non-Commonwealth goods, which Churchill fights from within the government. Then, after the Baldwin government is defeated in the 1929 election, he must fight Baldwin and his wing against their joining with Labour on Labour’s India policy.

    All the while, he has been writing articles, books and painting.

    One feature of the book which I find very pleasing is the way the various personalities are brought into focus. The author has footnoted every new person which comes into the story and gives a short bio on each. As someone who reads footnotes and likes detail, I find this a useful and interesting element of the study. It also gives one the sense of just how well connected Churchill was.

    I have reached 1930 and believe the split between Churchill and all parties is about to widen. I return with further thoughts shortly.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Of course he was a very ambitious and energetic man.

      I believe there is a another Law of Mr. Kung that says “Successful men tend to be very healthy and have a tremendous amount of energy.” I was just reading a bit about Teddy Roosevelt in one of the books I’ve been reading (forget which one). And he fits that mold to a tee.

      Also, in “Pacific Crucible” it mentioned that Churchill drank a lot. He was called a “high functioning alcoholic.” But from what I’ve heard, his autopsy showed a pink liver that looked like it belonged to a teenager. I’ve also heard that he simply sipped at various thing through the day. But all seem to be in agreement that he wasn’t walking around inebriated. I wonder if you could enlighten us on the truth of the matter.

      And I would say he was much misunderstood on India. He was for allowing provinces to rule themselves under an overall British umbrella.

      It’s politically incorrect to say that the world is better off when ruled by white, straight, British Christians. But I think that has proven to be the case. If people truly cared about the Palestinians, they’d be clamoring for Britain to set up a colonial government there where they could impose their values as a general governing umbrella.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Also, in “Pacific Crucible” it mentioned that Churchill drank a lot. He was called a “high functioning alcoholic.”

        I think that is simply a lot of rubbish. There is no doubt he liked Scotch, Brandy and Champagne. But I have, so far, not read one bit on him being drunk or being a drunk. And this really is a warts and all biography.

        The man loved to entertain and in upper class English culture alcohol flows like water. I have several English friends who I have known for years and it is almost a ritual for them to have a double Scotch or two before supper. I have not seen them drunk. And by-the-way, drunks generally don’t live until they are ninety years old. (His son Randolph was an alcoholic and died at 57 or 58.)

        It’s politically incorrect to say that the world is better off when ruled by white, straight, British Christians.

        I’ll never forget a flight I took from Singapore to Calcutta in the early 1980’s. I was seated next to and Indian lawyer who had visited Singapore in order to vet law firms he needed to work with on a legal suit regarding shipping. I gave him some advice as to which firms he might look into and he was very thankful. In fact, he invited me to his home for a delicious lunch of tiger prawns in curry.

        We got to discussing the British Empire and he said to me, “Fu Zu, it is said the British took 38% of India’s wealth during the Raj. I say, give them 40% and bring them back to run the bloody country!”

        The things one hears when talking honestly between individuals can be interesting.

        As to my “Laws”, I really need to sit down can write them down for posterity.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Oh, I agree. The fact is, Churchill may have drank a lot and it just, for whatever reason, didn’t have a deleterious effect on him. Living until 90 is a pretty good indication of his general health.

          One of the things we see occurring now (and I’m convinced the tattoo craze is indicative of this) is that we are throwing off the “white man’s burden” and becoming the stupid, cargo-cult natives.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The British rule in India all along had been a combination of native states that acted under British oversight and areas directly ruled by the British. The Oxford Guide to World War II includes a list of provinces and princely states in India with the total number of troops they supplied.

      The death toll of Indian independence might have been a lot less if they hadn’t created what was considered to amount to two sectarian states (Pakistan, which was explicitly Muslim, and India).

  9. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    A couple of thoughts which arose from reading the book.

    1. I would guess most people who have thought about the subject have the idea that the free India movement was very peaceful. In fact, during the end 1920’s and early 1930’s there were numerous riots in which thousands died. Furthermore, Indian terrorists assassinated many officials of the Raj.

    2. Regardless what one thinks about the British upper-classes, they were not just talkers and were willing to back up what they said with great sacrifice. As I go through the list of various people Churchill dealt with over the years, I am shocked by the number who lost sons, fathers, brothers, nephews and uncles or who were themselves wounded in defending the Empire. This was particularly the case in WWI where a generation of the best and brightest were slain fighting the Hun. This would appear to quite different from our present situation.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      At least in America, this seems to have changed in the Vietnam War era It would be interesting to see a study of why this happened then. Was it anti-anti-communism, a reaction to the extreme unpleasantness of the war (and how much people knew about it), the beginning of the cultural degeneration, or some other factor?

  10. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have reached the year 1935 and most people in the U.K., even the socialist Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, whose mental status appears to have been declining for several years, is beginning to see the threat from Nazi Germany.

    Of course, Churchill has been warning of this looming threat for some years. He has been ridiculed by Labour, Liberals and those of his own party, particularly those who held power in the ministries of government. Yet he continued to trudge on, what he saw as, the true path.

    In a speech to the Commons in 1935, he is glad those in power are coming to their senses, but bemoans the fact that they have wasted valuable years which could have been used to counter the growth in Nazi military power. One part of his speech is as applicable today as it was then, as it sums up much of what conservatives know about mankind.

    He said,

    When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure.

    There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong-these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.

    Does that sound familiar? I would add greed, sloth and arrogance to those faults which interfere with mankind’s ability to learn.

    Perhaps traditionalists and Christians better wake up and do something. Even at this late date.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      George Will just wrote a column praising the supreme court decision on homosexual marriage and all but called Ted Cruz a “wacko bird.” Jonah Goldberg, who caved on the issue some time back, has the gall to write an article titled You Can’t Compromise with Culture Warriors.

      Fools to the left of us. Fools to the right of us. Stuck in the middle with you.

      I think the clear writing on the wall, Mr. Kung, is not enough people want to engage in the culture wars. Oh, you’ll find endless talk about it but everyone is too “nice” to actually do anything. Contrast that with how the 2 or 3 percent of queers moved their agenda. You gotta hand it to them. Sure, they had the help of the media. But still they did move the culture.

      But you can’t get Mr. and Mrs. Polite American to get hot and bothered about anything. Fact is, as much as we want guys such as Ted Cruz to charge forward, very few people have his back. And as tough as some people talk about politics — baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet — these same people (I ran into one the other day) are ready to vote for blowhard Progressive Republicans such as Christie. Lots of conservative bravado out there but very little brains.

      I’m quite very near to turning this site into just a movie review and book review site. It’s not because I’m shrinking back, per se. But I just hate being a part of this meaningless kabuki theatre. Everyone wants to bitch. No one wants to do anything. I’m just one person. And I can see the writing on the wall. This stuff is just going to play out and I doubt there will even be a “Have you no shame” moment regarding the Left. We already kill unborn babies in the millions. Now queerdom is being legitimized as “marriage.” We’re borrowing and spending on the road to a Greek-like tragedy. And people are becoming corrupt, vile, vulgar, violent, and vicious by the coarse culture of socialism.

      So I’m *this close* to just checking out and saying to hell with you all. If you have a pension and are insulated from this to some extent, good for you. But I have very little respect left for people these day.

      So I’ll think I’ll just scan down Steve’s excellent reading list and whistle past the graveyard. I no longer have faith in my fellow American. I’ll try to develop some faith in God — and via prayer and quiet contemplation is the only way sanity can be gained and maintained. But his culture is a cesspool. I’m slowly checking out of it. I don’t know what that will mean in the future for this site. But I do think I might pare things back, perhaps relegate all the political stuff to the blog section. Basically bury it. I haven’t decided yet, but am at least doing everyone the service of thinking out loud on this.

      If you disagree, say so. But I just don’t see the point of this exercise anymore.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        History has shown the vast majority of people are simply sheep munching on the grass.

        It has very often been small groups of highly committed people who get things done. And these people are unremitting and willing to sacrifice, themselves but mostly others, for their goals.

        I am noticing how little reaction there seems to be around the country on the queer marriage business. Don’t expect things to change.

        On a slightly more positive note, some people in Texas are fighting back. Let’s see how they fare.

        As to the site, I could live with book and movie reviews.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        As people are victimized by the homofascists, there may be some sort of backlash — provided someone is smart enough to use such cases as the liberals use their convenient victims. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include the GOP.

        I like doing reviews, but I would certainly regret having all political comment taken away (except, perhaps, for comments on political books). If nothing else, having a place to vent at length is very useful, even therapeutic.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Thanks for the honest feedback, Timothy. I’ll keep that in mind. It’s just that sometimes it all seems so futile. I don’t necessarily get my panties in a bunch because things aren’t going my way. I don’t ball up my fists and shout at the air because someone, somewhere, is thinking thoughts different from my own.

          The problem is is that there is a gathering storm of black clouds and few want to take even the barest of steps to avoid it. It’s like Mark Steyn said in his latest article. It’s like Winston said in that quote that Mr. Kung proffered. Nothing new under the sun but, Jesus, you’d think there was some decent part in people where they would put their country and their children’s future before their own bullshit.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            The paleoconservative writer Charley Reese once wondered what might have happened to him if he had not been able to express himself in print as he did. It’s a good question for many of us. Then, too, it can be an encouragement as well as depressing.

  11. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have just finished vol. v of this collection. The book closes with Churchill returning as First Lord of the Admiralty, twenty four years after leaving the same position during WWI.

    During the 9-10 years which Churchill was out of power, he charted his own course. He was often at odds with the government of the moment, but this seemed to be particularly true with the Tory governments which were in office most of the 1930’s.

    Churchill came to have a reputation as something of a crackpot. Nobody questioned his experience, intelligence or ability to work, but it seems most questioned his judgment and ego.

    He was quite willing to compromise on details of certain policies and their funding, but he was inflexible when it came to matters of conviction. He was stubborn as a mule on the questions of Indian rule and re-armament. He lost on the Indian question, but once the H of C passed a bill changing India’s status and passing more powers to the various Indian provinces, he felt he had done his best and that other matters needed to be addressed.

    Those other matters were mainly the political and military situations in Europe and how best to improve Britain’s military preparedness and avoid a European war. He spent a good five years trying to arouse Britain from its funk. In his attempt he was insulted, belittled and shunned by many, but especially by die-hard Tories who both felt he was damaging the party and were more anti-USSR than anti-Nazi.

    Chamberlain and his lackeys did their very best to keep Churchill out of office in the teeth of increasing public and private demand that he be appointed to a cabinet office of importance. A few of the lackeys saw the err of their ways and resigned from the Chamberlain government, but Chamberlain held out to the bitter end. It was only after Germany invaded Poland that Chamberlain asked Churchill to join the War Cabinet and to take over the Admiralty.

    Churchill bears no responsibility for the many foolish things done by the Chamberlain government in the run up to war. One of the most foolish of these things was to sign a treaty with Poland some three weeks before the outbreak of war, guaranteeing Britain would come to Poland’s aid if invaded. To put this in perspective, Britain had avoided giving France such a specific treaty for years, because Chamberlain was basically a pie-in-the-sky pacifist who held his personal powers of persuasion in much higher esteem than those who dealt with him.

    On to vol. vi. I have to say that these are great books, but very time consuming. The short ones are about 800 pages long and the others over 1,000. And I read almost all footnotes which increases, substantially, the time required to finish the books. Vol. v had over 1000 footnotes.

    • Anniel says:

      Kung Fu, Wow, you really are the master. I’m waaaaay behind you and will probably skip the footnotes. I love reading your updates, they give me hope.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


        Good to hear your are also reading this bio. It is the best I have ever read and I have read a lot of biographies. I think I like Flexner’s “Washington” almost as much, but it is not nearly as detailed. How could it be? We do not have nearly so much personal info on Washington, especially his youth.

        One outstanding characteristic of Churchill is that he was not at all vindictive. He really could take a punch as well as give one.

        Once the war started, he erased all past personal slights and disagreements and did his best to convince everyone to work together for the preservation of not only Great Britain, but of Western Civilization.

        • Anniel says:

          Churchill probably does deserve his first billion years in heaven trying out new paints and heightened colors.

          As for George Washington, his own mother was so awful to him it’s a wonder he became as great as he did. His was a life that showed endurance and bravery beyond belief. A Finn might say he had enough sisu for a dozen men. Oh, one just did.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Yes, George was always respectful of his mother, but it is clear there was no deep love there. This is sad as if a child cannot love his mother due to her actions, how dark the world must seem.

            No other country had a founding father such as him.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I will skip most of the footnotes in vol vi as they are just references to particular memoranda or government papers. In the previous vols. it seems most of the footnotes referred to people and were mini-bios of the various people Churchill encountered.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I can remember reading The Count of Monte Cristo in the Oxford University edition, complete with massive footnotes at the end. I read each footnote when it appeared, which slowed down reading considerably. When I read The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After the next year, I would read the footnotes of several pages as a group, which greatly speeded up my reading. I followed the same pattern when I read the final books in the D’Artagnan series (The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Vallières, and The Man in the Iron Mask) on a trip to Maine for a niece’s wedding.

      (Incidentally, one recent book argues that the real Man in the Iron Mask was in fact D’Artagnan, and that the reason he was locked up was that he knew Louis XIII not only disliked his wife, Anne of Austria, but was a homosexual — and thus Louis XIV wasn’t his son, and thus not legitimately the king.)

  12. Timothy Lane says:

    For what it’s worth, patriotpost has a short quote from Churchill pointing out that appeasers are like someone tossing a victim to a crocodile hoping to be eaten last. (Theodore Seuss Geisel had an editorial cartoon with a similar theme, the idea beingthat if you toss enough victims to a wolf, it will be replete when your turn comes.) The link is::

  13. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have read about 1/5th of Vol. 6, which basically starts with Churchill’s appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty.

    When Great Britain declared war in September of 1939, it had long been clear that the country was ill prepared to fight. The U.K. was short of airplanes, tanks, ammo, guns, fuel, etc, etc, etc. This was due, not only to a policy of appeasement, but also the fact that there had been little coordination between industry and government prior to the war as regards production of weapons and other necessary items. Businessmen had fought any type of pressure from government requiring a certain portion of their production go to preparation for war. One is again reminded of Lenin’s words, to wit, “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we hang them.”

    Churchill was not one to let things drift and upon taking up his second tenure at the Admiralty, he moved quickly. One of the first things he had to address was merchant shipping as Great Britain was dependent on movement of goods by the sea. In three days he established the rules and guidelines as to how naval vessels were to work with commercial vessels moving to and from the U.K.

    Perhaps the greatest advantage Churchill had in September 1939 was his past experience as a wartime minister during WWI. He knew how things needed to work as he had seen it all before. His other great strength was he was willing to make decisions.

    As I read through the chapters covering his time as First Lord, I was amazed at the slipshod and amateurish way Chamberlain and his cabinet handled things. Every subject seems to have been submitted to a committee for a discussion and this committee would set up a sub-committee to study it further. Chamberlain was a weak sister and was loath to make firm decisions on a number of things. Any suggestion for action was debated to the point where by the time any agreement was reached, the situation for which the action was originally suggested had changed and therefore the suggestion was no longer valid.

    In the specific case of Norway, Churchill advised for a quick and decisive military action to occupy Narvik, thus cutting off a substantial amount of iron ore exports to Germany. It took the government about seven months to come to a decision on this. By the time Britain actually sent troops and vessels to Narvik, the Germans had prepared to invade Norway and German troops landed in the south of Norway as British troops sailed to Narvik. We know who occupyed Norway for the next five years.

    During these months, more MPs and the public at large, saw the fecklessness of the Chamberlain government and pressure began to build for a change. Chamberlain and his inner group, Hoare and Simon did everything they could to avert any change. But they had to give Churchill more power as time passed. He clearly had the country’s support as well as that of many Conservatives, Liberals and Labour MPs.

    To his credit, Churchill did not stab Chamberlain in the back. He was true to Chamberlain although he had been warned by many that Chamberlain and some others were simply trying to make him the scapegoat should the war start going badly.

    But these people did not reckon on the level of dissatisfaction in Parliament. Finally, a National Government, in which all parties were represented, was demanded. Since the Liberals and Labour refused to joined any such government led by Chamberlain, he was forced to resign. But before doing so, he suggested Lord Halifax take over as Prime Minister. Halifax had the good sense to decline and so Churchill reached his youthful ambition, becoming Prime Minister on May 10, 1939 at the age of sixty-five. The same day, that Germany opened their Western offensive against Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

    Churchill finally had the power to wage the war that he had, for years, been preparing for.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It wasn’t just a shortage of planes. Naval aircraft were of poor quality because design was left to the RAF, which didn’t care about carrier planes. (Germany had similar problems, which would’ve become relevant if they’d ever completed the Graf Zeppelin). This would be a problem throughout the war, as would poor quality heavy AA (the US was one of the few navies not to have this problem). On the other hand, their torpedoes were better than anybody else’s except for the Japanese Long Lances. (The Germans, who had massive torpedo problems, largely relied on copying torpedoes from a captured British sub. The US took a lon time to get reliable torpedoes.) Fleets of World War II by Richard Worth provides a lot of this useful information, which is why I keep it handy as a reference.

  14. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    To put lie to the scurrilous accusations that Churchill was an alcoholic, I will quote a footnote from vol. 6 of the official biography. This is from the papers of J.R. Colville who served as one of Churchill’s private secretaries.

    “Winston’s whisky was very much a whisky and “soda”. It was really a mouthwash. He used to get frightfully cross if it was too strong”……from the papers of J.R. Colville who served as one of Churchill’s private secretaries.

    Further from Sir David Hunt a later private secretary,

    Sir David Hunt, one of Churchill’s Private Secretaries during his Premireship, has written of Churchill’s drinking: “To my mind, and from my own observation, he was remarkably moderate. He certainly drank the weakest whisky-and-sodas that I have ever known. This was brought home to me early on, in fact on 30 November 1951, his seventy-seventh birthday. After his birthday party he came down to the Cabinet Room to work just the same and with his usual thoughfulness invited me to have a drink with him….The whiskies had been poured by a messenger, not by one of his own servants; mine tasted normal enough to me, but he was deeply indignant with the messenger for mixing it far too strong. In truth in his normal drink the whisky only faintly tinged the soda.”

    This is why I read footnotes. I had also heard the stories of Churchill putting away a big scotch upon waking in the morning. Sometimes even historians don’t do their business properly or like to add a little spice to things. Often, one must dig deeper to get to the truth.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Most books have the footnotes in back (technically endnotes). In such cases, unless they’re purely references, I will put a bookmark there so that I can check out the footnotes (though usually several at once, as I did with Dumas’s books (the D’Artagnan series, since a biography of him was the inspiration).

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Kindle is especially nice in this regard. One only has to touch the ref. no. on the page and the endnote comes up. Once read, press the same ref. no. and back to the original page you go.

        At least that’s the way it is with the Churchill bio.

  15. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I am slightly over 50% of the way through vol. 6. Churchill has taken over just as Germany invades France. And Churchill tries to do all he can to help the French repel the onslaught, but we all know how the French crumbled.

    What stands out is that the French collapse was worse than we think. Even as the panzers ran riot, French governments kept changing. Worse than the individual French soldier were their leaders. Incompetent, defeatist and confused would just begin to describe many at the top.

    As the German Blitzkrieg rolled on, the French were unable to utilize air cover of their own and kept the pressure on the British to send fighter squadrons to France, saying the Brits weren’t doing enough to help.

    Churchill visited France many times to try and agree on a unified strategy as well as to stiffen up the French backbone. The internal situation in the French Cabinet played a major role in keeping this from happening. The French kept demanding the British send troops and all its planes to France for the “decisive” battle which they said must take place in France. Churchill, on the other hand, made it clear that he could not leave the U.K. naked to the attack that was bound to come and that in any case, the decisive point was to keep fighting Germany and this was something only Great Britain could do even if France fell.

    Interestingly, Churchill even offered the possibility of declaring a unified Great Britain/France to be ruled as one country. This was rejected by the French.

    In the end, the defeatists led by Petain with the support of Weygand gained control and did everything they could to undermine the idea of resistance. They even asked to be released from their treaty obligations to the U.K. in order to agree to an armistice with Germany. Churchill could not agree to this unless they transferred the French Navy into Allied hands. This they would not do.

    Sometime during the end of May or early June, De Gaulle begins to take part in these discussions and pushes for resistance, but to no avail. Churchill takes note of this and sees in De Gaulle a potential leader of a Free French contingent.

    We know what happened. France fell and Germany occupied half the country. The Nazi’s allowed Petain to create a new client government in Vichy. Not the most glorious moment in French history.

    It is interesting that Churchill did not give up on the French and France. He always saw France as a great power, but thought the leadership at this time appalling. In fact, Churchill had a great love of France. He had been visiting the country for over 40 years and admired the culture greatly.

    As to the fall of France, the famous retreat of the BEF and other troops to Dunkirk is well known. But there were numerous other British and French contingents which escaped to the U.K. via other ports. I would estimate that something like 4-500,000 troops got away.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      My understanding is that Churchill was willing to increase British air power in France, but the RAF (especially Fighter Command) was reluctant, knowing what was likely to come soon. Additional ground forces were landed after Dunkirk, and had to be transported back (an even bigger withdrawal than Dunkirk itself, the second largest such sea-borne withdrawal in the war after the German withdrawal from the East in 1945). Losses were relatively light, the main being the capture of the bulk of the 51st (Highland) division by Rommel in St. Valéry (and they’d already been in northeastern France).

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Churchill was no dictator. He would fight with the High Command, but not overrule their military recommendations, at least not often.

        He did send extra squadrons to France, but more importantly allocated squadrons based in Southern England to fly sorties in France everyday. He was not willing to take the chance of losing too many planes and pilots as he knew the safety of Great Britain depended on the success of the RAF defending the motherland.

        Churchill was well ahead of most others in his understanding of the importance air power would play in war. Where I believe he was somewhat wrong was his belief that strategic bombing would be more powerful and decisive than it actual was.

  16. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Continuing my earlier posting today, I believe the way Churchill handled domestic politics was very interesting.

    When Chamberlain stepped down as Prime Minister, Churchill did not throw him out of the Cabinet. He asked Chamberlain to remain the leader of the Conservative party as Churchill wished to been seen as leading a unified government of all parties. Churchill also appointed Chamberlain as Lord President of the Council, thus becoming the no. two in the government.

    In spite of Chamberlain’s history of belittling and insulting Churchill, Winston maintained very cordial relations with Chamberlain. When Chamberlain was diagnosed with cancer and underwent a serious operation, Churchill kept him apprised of happenings in the Cabinet and the war through a pretty regular correspondence. When Chamberlain asked to resign from government due to failing health, Churchill was very kind in his letters telling Chamberlain how he would be missed and telling him how Churchill valued his friendship.

    An interesting aspect of this volume is the information on how much Great Britain depended on American supplies. Due to American laws, Roosevelt could not allow certain materials to be shipped to the U.K. More importantly, there was a presidential election coming up in 1940 and Roosevelt was concerned about stirring up too much isolationist sentiment further.

    The man responsible for obtaining material from American was a Mr. Arthur Purvis. He headed the British Purchasing Commission. A Brit who had moved to Canada and had a successful career before taking on this job, Purvis had close relations with Secretary Morgenthau who was very insistent that the British be helped as much as possible.

    Purvis is something of an unsung hero as he was clearly able to facilitate deliveries of goods which would have either been delayed or withheld without his efforts.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      A very magnanimous man regarding Chamberlain.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The American exports to Britain included 100-octane aviation fuel, which was better than anyone could do in Europe at the time. (A book on the Ploesti raids notes that they produced 90-octane fuel.) One might note that Lend-Lease was very important n9t only to Britain but to the Soviet Union (providing masses of high-technology equipment and transportation (which enabled the Soviet mobile forces to move faster than the Germans).

  17. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I am 2/3rds of the way through vol 6 and there are a several things which stand out.

    1) When Churchill took over as Prime Minister, he also took on the portfolio of Defense Minister. By doing this, Churchill consolidated tremendous power in his hands. And while many complained about his “dictatorial” manner, he did not act the dictator. He listened to his war council and others, who did not always agree with him. And he deferred to their judgment, more often than not.

    2) For the first two years, at least, the Vichy government had a fair deal of independence from Nazi Germany. Churchill continuously tried to come to some kind of understanding with them regarding France’s neutrality or cooperation with Great Britain. He was particularly concerned about France’s colonies and Navy. The Navy he took care of by either bottling up vessels in overseas ports or bombarding them as in Oran. The colonies were more of a problem as they remained true to Vichy, instead of establishing “Free French” administrations. Syria even allowed Germans to start coming into the country before the Brits invaded and got rid of them and the government which allowed them in. To understand why this was necessary, one only has to look at a map to see that if left to occupy Syria, Germany would have had a clear line to the Iraqi oil fields near Kirkuk and as we all know, oil was a huge concern for Nazi Germany. From my readings so far, it would appear that the Vichy regime was in fact Hitler’s lap dog and actively fought the Brits wherever they could.

    3) Churchill was made for this moment. It is as if his whole life had been building to take on this burden and lead Great Britain and the world in an anti-Nazi Crusade. Due to his talents, he had been very active in government before and during WWI. He had held several important posts, including First Lord of the Admiralty and Minister for Munitions, thus had accumulated a wealth of experience which few others had. And the few who might have had similar knowledge were too old and lacked anything near the will and energy displayed by Churchill. He had truly seen and done it all before. And thank God for that.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      He was certainly the right man at the right time. Do you have an insight into why the Germans even bothered with a Vichy government?

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I am not sure, but I think by allowing the Vichy government to run things, the Germans saved themselves the necessity of maintaining several hundred thousand troops in the rest of France. Furthermore, by giving the French “face”, many French decided that they must legally adhere to Vichy government dictates. This meant the colonies stayed French as well as the navy. The people in charge of the French colonies and navy actively fought against British attempts to establish “Free French” enclaves with De Gaulle.

        It should also be pointed out that there were a large number of Nazi sympathizers in France. Britain also had a fair number before the war broke out.

        We often forget that during the 1930’s, much of the intelligentsia (a misnomer if there ever was one) believed liberal institutions were no longer relevant and were not able to deal with modern problems. Thus Nazism and Communism were seen as the way forward and these were at each other’s throats.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Hitler tried to get Pétain to join the war, but the French marshal insisted that he would have to call the Chamber of Deputies into session to declare war.

          Incidentally, the Germans also allowed the Danes to keep their own government, and even hold elections, for most of the war. This is even harder to explain in some ways (though it did no doubt help speed up the Danish surrender, which was very useful in terms of supplying air bases they needed to support the campaign in Norway). The Danish colonies were occupied by the British and Americans.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      This sort of combined executive authority and defense command was in fact common among the major powers during the war. Hitler, Stalin, Tojo, and Mussolini all were war ministers as well as holding their other positions. In fact, Hitler also took over the Army command at the end of 1941 (and as time went on, unlike Churchill and for that matter Stalin, he listened less and less to anyone who wasn’t a sycophant). Mussolini nominally held a half-dozen positions in his government.

  18. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have finished vol. 6 and moved on to vol. 7

    The last third of vol. 6 largely covers three main themes.

    1) Once the threat of an invasion of the homeland appears past, Churchill and the War Council ramp up the plans for fighting the Nazi war machine around the peripheries of its territory. The main buildup is in North Africa which is vital as the British need to protect the oil fields of Iraq and the Suez Canal. But the more immediate reason is that Italy has joined with Nazi Germany and Italy has decided to expand its holdings in North and East Africa. It takes some time, but the Italians are finally thrown out of East Africa and pretty roundly beaten in North Africa. Contrary to modern thought, this took more time and effort than simply asking the Italians to surrender.

    In addition to Africa, Churchill is constantly trying to convince various countries in the Balkans to join with Britain. Thousands of British troops are sent to help Greece after it is invaded, but in the end they must withdraw. When all is said and done, the Balkans fall to the Nazi’s, through conquest or treaty.

    While this is going on, perhaps the greatest worry to Churchill and Britain is the Battle of the Atlantic. Millions of tons of shipping is lost, in spite of the fact that the British have Enigma and are able to break much of the naval code, they are not able to do this in real time. At least they are not able to do this at the beginning of the war. And the German navy changes its code from time to time and to break the new codes can take months.

    2) Churchill knows the hope of Great Britain and the rest of the free world depends upon the support of the U.S.A. and its final entry into the war. Churchill spends a lot of time and effort to establish a relationship with Roosevelt trying to convince him to declare war on Germany. 1940 is a presidential election year and Roosevelt must walk softly as he does not want to give his opponents ammo against him by painting him as a war-monger. There are laws in place that limit the type and amount of materiel which America can sell to Great Britain. Even so, Roosevelt does what he can to aid the British cause. Once he wins his third election, new laws are passed which allow expanded aid to the U.K. Two things are especially helpful to Britain. The first is American expanding its patrolling of the North Atlantic, which eases the strain on the British Navy which can then protect the northwest approaches to the British Isles more effectively. Second is the Lend-Lease program with allows American to significantly increase the amount of materials sold to the U.K. As the Brits could not pay for all of this material outright, a treaty was signed between the U.S. and U.K, whereby the Brits would allow various ports in the Caribbean to be taken over by the U.S. for defense purposes.

    3) In June of 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Through German communications, which were being intercepted and read almost in real time, the Brits knew of the German military buildup on the Soviet border. Churchill passed this info on to Stalin through the British ambassador, Cripps (the commie who later transfer British jet engine technology to the USSR), but Stalin didn’t believe it. One must recall, that the USSR was not at war with Britain, but had only taken part in the attack on Poland.

    Once Germany invaded the USSR, many of the British military brass thought the Russians would fold in three weeks. They didn’t and this helped take pressure of the other theaters of war which the Brits had been active in. Churchill the old anti-commie, did an enormous amount to help the Soviets. He immediately transferred much of Britain’s production of airplanes and tanks to Stalin. This material went through Murmansk at first. But later started flowing through Iran as well.

    In the last chapters the question of Japan arises and Churchill hoped that strong warnings against Japan’s further movement into S.E. Asia would keep the Japanese from going further. Great Britain was fighting for its life in Europe to pick a fight with Japan would be crazy.

    Everyone involved thought that by moving British naval vessels to Singapore combined with the large American fleet in Hawaii, they could convince the Japanese to be happy with their occupation of Indo-China and leave things there. Unfortunately, everyone involved completely misread Japanese intentions.

    One huge problem which concerned Churchill before the attack on Pearl Harbor was the possibility that the Japanese would continue their march south and would attack Malaya and the Dutch East Indies. Should this happen, Britain would be at war with Japan and Germany. This was a nightmare scenario for Churchill. Luckily, for the Brits, the Japanese decided to attack Pearl Harbor, which no one seems to have considered a possibility.

    Churchill was at Checkers when the attack on Pearl Harbor was made. He was with several other friends and government officials when the BBC made a short statement about some attack. His valet came in and expanded on this broadcast. I believe it was Harry Hopkins who was with Churchill and they both called Roosevelt from Checkers. For security reasons, Roosevelt did not go into details as to how significant the damage was. Churchill asked Roosevelt what he would like Great Britain to do, and it was agreed that America would declare war on Japan and Great Britain would follow with its declaration within the hour.

    The last pages of the vol. describe the lack of intelligence available to the Brits regarding Japanese capabilities in S.E.Asia and the incredibly bad luck the British task force consisting of HMS “Repulse” and “Prince of Wales” plus several destroyers had by being sighted by Japanese scout planes returning to their airbase. Both vessels were sent to the bottom of the South China Sea off the Malayan peninsula. One can still see them from the air off of Kuatan.

    Churchill is quite depressed by this loss, but that loss is balanced by successes the Soviets had against the Germans. But most importantly, with Germany and Italy declaring war against the USA on Dec. 11th, Churchill knew the Axis powers were to be defeated, even if it took years to do so.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The main problem in East Africa was traversing the distances. In the south, resistance was almost completely ineffectual. In the north, there was some serious fighting, particularly at the mountain position of Keren (which would become the 4th Indian Division’s standard of difficulty during the war).

      Many Itailan troops fought bravely, but they had poor leadership and poor equipment. The British Matilda tanks, being impenetrable by Italian anti-tank weapons, played a major role in the 1940-1 offensive that drove the Italians back beyond El Agheila. (The Germans had the same problem in France in 1940 and Crete in 1941, but faced fewer Matildas and improvised better.)

      The British were reading Luftwaffe Enigma ciphers by the summer of 1940, but it took a little longer with the Army and even longer with the Navy. Germany was reading some crucial codes at the time, so the Navy codebreaking war was probably in their favor until mid-1943.

      Japan actually had some good intelligence on the British, helped by secret papers captured by the Atlantis on one of its victims Automedon, as I recall) which were sent on to the Japanese. Allied intelligence about Japan was materially affected by racist assumptions that the Japanese were inferior.

  19. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I am about a third through vol. 7. This volume is really all about WWII.

    When America comes into the war, Churchill is already 67 years old. Yet he is a virtual dynamo. The man is into every thing which has to do the prosecution of the war.

    He wants to meet Roosevelt within days of Pearl Harbor, but this first wartime meeting is put off until just before Christmas of 1941. This is just the first of many between the two men. During the war, Churchill would travel more than either Roosevelt or Stalin to insure a unified war plan and strategy was developed and maintained. He acted as both a suitor and prod to Roosevelt and the Americans.

    With Stalin it was somewhat different. Churchill knew Stalin was a monster, he called him an “unnatural man”, but he also knew that if the Soviet Union could hold out against the Nazi onslaught that the combined efforts of the Allies would defeat Germany eventually. I also believe Churchill had a deep sympathy with the Russian people who bore the brunt of the fight.

    Americans often think that “we” won the war, but it is interesting to see exactly how much the Brits carried the weight for most of the conflict. The war started in September of 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. The Soviet Union was a German ally in the invasion, but was not at war with Britain and France. In June 1940 France surrendered to Germany. From that time to June of 1941 when the Nazi’s invaded the USSR, Britain fought alone. Even when the USA entered the battle, the Brits carried the main weight of fighting the Axis powers outside the Soviet Union.

    It is interesting to note, that although British colonies had fallen to the Japanese, Churchill was much more interested in the European, African and Middle Eastern theaters. He was much relieved to find out the Americans agreed with him even though the first strike against the States had been in Asia.

    Given his age, Churchill’s health was always a worry. He has a personal physician who was around him constantly. The man traveled with Churchill on all his overseas trips.

    Churchill had heart problems, a it would appear his blood pressure was a big concern. Yet the man pushed himself, and those around him, unmercifully. The result was he had constants colds and once developed pneumonia which took weeks to cure. Luckily they already had sulfa-drugs as as his doctor told him, “pneumonia is called the old person’s friend, it helps one just slide away easily.”

    An interesting personal note about Churchill is he constantly mumbled to himself. Several of his secretaries and associates noted this. One might think this a bit strange until one hears why he did it.

    Churchill was a man of words, and dictated his letters, speeches, etc. And took extreme pains to get things right. To do this, he spoke to himself in order to actually hear what his speeches, etc would sound like. And only when he was satisfied that he’d got things right, would he be satisfied. This is not surprising considering his speeches to parliament could go on for over two hours.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I once read that Churchill decided the Russian people were indomitable when he saw Muscovites queued up for ice cream — in winter. He basically saw Hitler as the greater threat. Unfortunately, FDR didn’t see Stalin as a threat at all, and was quite willing to work with him against Churchill at Teheran.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Americans often think that “we” won the war, but it is interesting to see exactly how much the Brits carried the weight for most of the conflict.

      They carried a lot of weight, as did members of her Commonwealth. I was watching a documentary of Churchill on Netflix the other day. I may return to it. But it was interesting that it was a major issue internally as to whether or not England should sue for peace with Britain. The elite of the day (as they are now in the GOP who have no problem collaborating with Obama) were full of people who thought Britain had no chance.

      Apparently with Neville Chamberlain’s firm support (something that Churchill had long nurtured…including letting the Chamberlains remain as residents of #10), Churchill’s view prevailed, particularly after Churchill had an impromptu meeting with a staff of underlings, gave a sort of “never surrender” speech and was met with a huge ovation. That, according to this documentary, reaffirmed in his mind that what he was thinking wasn’t all that unpopular, even if it was unpopular with the collaborative branch of the elite.

      Give Chamberlain credit where credit is due. Perhaps he is indeed due much criticism for being a rube and giving in to Hitler. But he did at least finally understand that Hitler was not a man whose word could be trusted. Any armistice signed with him would have been of no more value than the paper it was written on. And we look today and see our foolish leader, Obama, waltzing toward the same holocaust. But at least Chamberlain did not have some secret liking for Nazism, unlike Obama who is an evil Islamophile…to the point of utter destruction of the West.

  20. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Continuing my trek through vol 7, I am about 40% through the book.

    If anyone did not know it, Stalin was a very difficult man to deal with. But the Soviets were absorbing the main blows of the Nazi war machine so Churchill did his best to work with and support him.

    After many tries, Churchill finally arranged a meeting at Tehran between Stalin, Roosevelt and himself for the purpose of laying out broad plans for the balance of the war and what was to be done after the Allies’ victory. Once the US came into the war, Churchill never had any doubt who would win.

    Roosevelt cut Churchill out of some of the discussions at Tehran. This and the fact that the Americans were playing political game claiming American troops won battles in the Mediterranean area which were, in fact, won using British troops, irritated Churchill.

    The main result of Tehran was general agreement upon the timing and location of the so-called “second front” in France, code-named “Overlord.” Of course, it would have been the third or fourth front because the Brits had been fighting in north Africa for a couple of years and had inflicted grievous losses on the Axis troops. This finally resulted in the complete collapse of the Axis forces in Africa with the Allies’ victory in Tunis. Here they accepted the surrender of about a quarter-million troops. This fact is too often forgotten when people mention 1943 and Stalingrad being a turning point in the war.

    After Tehran, Churchill remained in North Africa pushing for continued assaults on Italy, which had been a bone of contention at Tehran. Churchill thought it folly to let up on the Nazis until Overlord. He also knew once Overlord took place the Americans would steadily take over more of the running of the war. So there was a constant fight as to how long assets which were being used in the Mediterranean could be kept there before being shipped to England for preparation for Overlord.

    As the Americans were to contribute the largest no. of troops to Overlord it was decided an American should be Supreme Commander. (A similar agreement was made appointing Mountbatten as Supreme Commander South East Asia.) Both Roosevelt and Churchill had, originally, thought Marshal would be the Supreme Commander of Overlord, and it was somewhat late in the game when Roosevelt decided he could not part with Marshal. (I suspect he might have known this all along as it would appear Roosevelt was very dependent on Marshal for military advice, unlike Churchill with his staff.)

    In any case, it was agreed the Eisenhower would step in for Marshal, but it was not clear who would be his no. 2. Eisenhower preferred Alexander and even Churchill seems to have agreed with this. But the British Cabinet decided on Montgomery both on “merit” and for political reasons. They thought the British public would be more inspired by following the flamboyant Montgomery than the proper Alexander.

    It should be said the main reason the Americans did not want Montgomery as the no. 2 was his obnoxious personality, which made him a very difficult person to work with.
    This concern was to prove to be well founded by future actions.

    As a side note, while living in Hongkong, I became friendly with an ex-British soldier who been part of a detail of physical and medical men who had taken care of Montgomery in his old age. When I asked what the Field Marshal had been like, his response was basically that Montgomery had been a horrible person.

    During his stay in North Africa, Churchill contracted pneumonia once again and had a small heart attack as well. He was lucky that there were a number of specialists in the area who took care of him, but he was out of action for several weeks.

    After recovering, he pushed and got an agreement for the Anzio landing. He also met De Gaulle who was, as usual, a pig. Roosevelt hated De Gaulle and called him “Joan of Arc” for his messianic complex. Churchill did not have a much higher opinion of him. When asked why De Gaulle was so anti-English, Churchill replied something to the effect, “because England helped France and did not fall”.

    During their meeting in North Africa during which De Gaulle was his usual obnoxious self, Churchill told him something like, “I am the leader of a great power which had not been defeated, yet every morning when I get up the first thing I think of is how can I be helpful to President Roosevelt and conciliatory to Marshal Stalin. Why do you think that you, who is a completely different position should be so rude and dismissive?” That appeared to shut De Gaulle up, at least temporarily.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Hardly anyone seems to have liked Montgomery. I once read of a joke Patton used to tell about him. Monty was discussing his plans with Eisenhower, and showed where he had placed a number of divisions in a flanking position to “lie in wait for the Hun” (this may have been during the Bulge). “Then, at the proper moment, I shall pounce on him like a savage rabbit!” Oddly, it appears that Montgomery had a higher opinion of American troops than Alexander did. Both were initially skeptical, especially after Kasserine Pass, both Montgomery saw enough in Sicily to change his mind. Alexander, further away from the field, apparently never really did.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Initially, American troops performed pretty poorly and were badly led.

        The Brits had gone through several years of tough fighting and different commanders in North Africa as well before they got things right.

        Churchill noted the initial poor performance of the American troops, but had no doubt about their improving after being “blooded”.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Very interesting summary, Mr. Kung. And I guess Montgomery was indeed not overplayed in the “Patton” movie where the guy does indeed look like a real prima donna jerk. In the movie, Paton says something like “At leasts I’m willing to admit I’m a prima donna.”

      There’s something wrong with the French character.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        In the satire of Patton in MAD Magazine, there’s a lovely scene during the planning for Sicily in which, after General Put*on seeks a larger role for his army, Field Marshal Monkmemory points out that, “This is my war. I get top billing. It says so right here in my contract: ‘World War II. Starring Field Marshal Monkmemory. With General George Put*On and a Cast of Millions.” To which the irate general responds, “With? All I get is a With?” I thought they really hit the mark on the glory hounds.

  21. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    One major subject discussed at Tehran was what to do with Germany and the Germans after their defeat.

    Churchill wanted the country split up. His main reason for this is he wanted to isolate Prussia from rest of the Germans. He saw Prussian Militarism combined with the Nazi ideology as the cause of the war.

    During one dinner this question was being discussed and Stalin opined that about 50,000 of the top Germans starting with the General Staff should be taken out and summarily shot and this would break Germany’s power. (Does that sound familiar? Katyn Forrest anyone?)

    Churchill immediately said this would be wrong. Then Franklin Roosevelt’s idiot son Elliot chimed in saying he agreed with Stalin and was sure the American people would too. At this Churchill said they could march him out of the room and shoot him now before he would agree to such a crime. He then stormed out of the room.

    After a minute or so he felt two hands fall on his shoulders. One was Stalin’s and the other Molotov’s. Stalin told Churchill that it was all just a joke.

    Churchill returned to the dinner, but was never really convinced that it had, in fact, been a joke.

  22. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Brad, here is a point which will interest you.

    I had mistakenly thought that National Health was imposed in the U.K. by Attlee and Labour against the wishes of the Tories. But this is not 100% the case.

    For some years, Churchill had been considering National Health and March of 1944 he made the following speech to the Royal College of Physicians:

    The discoveries of healing science must be the inheritance of all….That it is clear. Disease must be attacked, whether it occurs in the poorest or the richest man or woman, simply on the ground that it is the enemy; and it must be attacked just in the same way as the fire brigade will give its full assistance to the humblest cottage as readily as to the most important mansion…The British Government..have adopted the policy outlined in the remarks of Lord Beaconsfield on health and the laws of health, and that is the course upon which we have embarked. Our policy is to create a national health service in order to ensure that everybody in the country,irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation, shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available.”

    Very laudable sentiments, but as with most things in life, the devil is in the details and N.H. in the U.K. has enormous problems.

    The British Cabinet gave its approval to a national health service in February of 1944. Churchill told his ministers to put this forward for public discussion.

    Many in the Tory party were probably not ready for this step, thus it’s passage into law had to wait until the defeat of Nazi Germany and a new Labour government. But it is clear Churchill was no conservative and that the British Tory party is not a conservative party in the sense of an American conservative. I believe it is the case that the Republican party has become more like the British Tory party.

  23. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I am a bit over 2/3rds of the way through vol. 7. During Tehran Stalin kept pushing for a second front in the West so as to relieve the pressure on the Soviet Army. He preferred an attack upon the French coast. Churchill was dead-set against this and pushed for a continuation of his strategy for an attack on the “soft underbelly” of the Axis powers, i.e. assaults on territory in and around the Mediterranean. After much wrangling with the Americans, it was agreed to invade Sicily. This was done with great success. Only after this did the American Staff agree to his desire to continue the assault on Italy in order to take Rome. Unfortunately, the American hesitation cost valuable time. When the assault at Anzio did take place, it was done in such a hesitant way that the Germans were able to recover from the initial thrust and inflict terrible loses on the Allies. In addition to that, the weather conditions were atrocious and the soldiers suffered accordingly. I had an uncle who went through N. Africa, Sicily, Italy and France into Germany, and he told me Anzio was the worst battle he endured.

    When the Allied armies did start moving up the peninsula, the Americans started taking away troops and equipment for the Normandy campaign. Churchill fought this constantly, but as time went on, the American Chiefs of Staff became ever more imperious.

    In the end, Rome was liberated, but by that time, the army in Italy had been so weakened that an assault on Trieste and push through the Llubljana gap into Austria and Vienna, which is what Churchill hoped to achieve, was impossible.

    During this time, Churchill was trying to prepare for the future political structure of Europe. He knew he had little power to stop the Soviet Union from gobbling up all territory which its armies “liberated”, nevertheless he flattered and cajoled Stalin constantly hoping to have some semblance of democratic rule in Eastern and Southern Europe. In this attempt he, to a large degree, failed. He received little help from Roosevelt and the Americans in this quest.

    Where he did have success, it was in the face of outright American State Dept. opposition. This success was in Greece, where the British had been defeated earlier in the war. Churchill made an agreement with Stalin that England would have the greatest say in the administration of Greece once the Nazi’s had pulled out.

    Churchill knew that the Greek Communists, who had been armed by Britain to find the Nazi’sm would take over the country and eliminate any opposition. It should be remembered that the Greek Government in Exile had fled to British territory and were under the protection of the U.K.

    Churchill had his commanders develop a plan in which British soldiers would occupy Athens and the neighboring area in order to forestall a Communist takeover. They did this, at a considerable cost in deaths of British soldiers. Yet the USA State dept. exerted public and governmental pressure for the Brits to leave Greece, even though the situation was clear. Secretary Stettinius who was apparently behind this was later to resign from his Ambassadorship to the U.N. because he thought Truman was not trying hard enough to be friendly to the USSR. I think this is just another indication of the progressive and Communist rot which was pervasive throughout the American government during this time. Those who claim American was paranoid about Communism at this and a later time, should do little more research on the subject.

    In addition to Greece, Churchill was constantly fighting to find a way for the Polish Government in Exile in London and Stalin to come to some sort of modus vivendi. Although it is doubtful there was ever much chance of finding such an agreement, the legendary Polish talent for self-destruction was on display. No Polish leader would agree to giving up any land which Stalin demanded; even land that Poland had taken from Russia in 1919-20. I am amazed at the time and effort Churchill spent on this problem. In the end of course, Stalin recognized Polish lackeys who parroted everything he told them as the official government.

    The fighting continued and finally in June of 1944 the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy creating the front which was supposed to bleed troops from the USSR front. Churchill and others were stunned and hugely relieved at the small losses incurred.

    Unlike Roosevelt and Stalin, Churchill was a peripatetic commander. He was continually visiting various theaters of war in order to understand what was actually happening. He also visited Stalin and Roosevelt several times so as to have face-to-face time with his counterparts. Like any good leader, he knew that personal contact was necessary to cut through bureaucracy and to gain a better understanding of what his allies were thinking. This constant travel cost him quite a bit in health.

    Readers must understand that neither Roosevelt nor Stalin had real experience in war. Roosevelt was a typical Brahman of the American political type. Stalin was a bank robber and mass murderer, although he have some involvement in the fight between the Reds and Whites after the revolution. I don’t believe however that he was directly involved in on any front.

    Churchill had not only been a soldier, he had also seen action in India, Africa and in France. By all accounts the man was fearless and had the heart of a warrior. More importantly, he understood war and had a fair idea of strategy, especially when political considerations came into question, which was often the case.

    Interestingly, Churchill considered the American triumvirate of Marshall, King and Arnold to be some of the worst strategists of all time. But he considered them to be “good chaps” so one didn’t need to rub it in their faces.

    I must say that I tend to agree with him as clearly the broad assault strategy which was adopted after the breakout from the area around Normandy was ineffective. As much as one dislikes Montgomery, it seems likely that his concept of hitting the Nazis with a massive force at one point might have worked better. And it must be said, that traditional war theory would have called such a strategy.

    One point which irritated Churchill was the American habit of constantly taking credit for all that was going on in the war. This was something both the American government/military and press did. Considering the fact that the Brits had been in the war from the beginning and had contributed the largest number of troops until Normandy, I think Churchill was perfectly correct to be pissed off.

    I am now up to January 1945 and there is little doubt that the war in Europe will soon be over. The biggest questions in Churchill’s mind are the war against Japan and what to do with Germany once it surrenders.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The most crucial withdrawal of troops from Italy came after Rome, when the VI Corps (under Truscott) and the French (under Juin) were pulled out for the invasion of southern France. This was a big success, but undoubtedly slowed down the advance in Italy (the French, in particular, were extremely effective mountain troops, who played the decisive role in the success of Operation Diadem in May).

      As for the possible attack from Istria and Trieste through Ljubljana, I discussed this with one of my history professors at Purdue (Professor Haywood, who taught the history of Eastern and Central Europe). As someone who knew the terrain personally (but wasn’t a military expert), he was very skeptical that such an attack would work.

      Stalin was a commissar during the Russian Civil War and the Russo-Polish War that grew out of it. He claimed some credit for the attack that defeated White General Denikin in the Tsaritsyn area (somewhat foreshadowing Stalingrad 20 years later), probably without much deserving it. His cavalry army (under Budenny, later a Soviet marshal) was blamed by Tukhachevsky for advancing so slowly in the latter days of the war in Poland that it allowed the Polish to concentrate and launch the attack near Warsaw that won the war for them. (Now you can understand why Tukhachevsky was one of the main targets of the military phase of the Yezhovshchina, and Budenny and other officers of his army weren’t.)

  24. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The most crucial withdrawal of troops from Italy came after Rome, when the VI Corps (under Truscott) and the French (under Juin) were pulled out for the invasion of southern France. This was a big success, but undoubtedly slowed down the advance in Italy

    Several divisions were pulled from Italy some months before Rome. And perhaps just as important for Churchill was the withdrawal of landing craft and the constant fight between the American and British Military Staffs which delayed just about every idea Churchill had thus forfeiting "timing". The Americans were sometime so political that it hurt. Marshall was downright dishonest once claiming the Enigma messages where not so effective. This was in response to a message from Hitler ordering to increase the number of German troops in Italy so as to hold on to it. I believe this was before Rome had fallen. Churchill argued that these were proof that the Italian campaign was successful and very important as it had bled off more German divisions than anyone had ever thought possible. But for political reasons the Americans ignored or denied this.

    As to the attack on the South of France, Churchill thought it was misguided and needled Eisenhower about which one had in fact proved to be a diversion, Normandy or the South. If there was to be a second attack in France, Churchill and later the British Military Staff (and even some Americans I blv) thought it must wiser to attack vie the Atlantic Coast of France as the second attack would have been closer to the initial Normandy assault and the armies could eventually meet. Since the attack in South France was some 500 miles away, there was little chance of this.

    As to the projected Istria/Trieste assault, the original hope was to be able to cut off a large number of German troops and take their surrender. Furthermore, Churchill had come to have no illusions about Tito and wanted to get into Yugoslavia in order to keep it from going Commie, which it did. The point about the terrain is valid and the troops would have had to push through to the area around Graz before swinging north. In any case, the delays made this a non-starter.

    I agree that it is unlikely Stalin had much to do with Deninkin’s fate. And it was clearly deadly to be witness to Stalin’s errors. But I have to say, I don’t feel much sorrow for Tukhachevsky. He was not only a traitor to his class, but something of a barbarous scoundrel as well.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The main problem with the British plans was that they tended to ignore the effects of southern European topography. As Fred Majdalany pointed out in The Battle of Cassino, Italy might be a “soft underbelly” strategically (and the Germans did have to leave sizable forces scattered about the coastal areas), it was very difficult ground tactically. Allied losses were far larger than German losses until Operation Diadem, with its massive air support (and the unhinging of the German defenses by Juin’s French corps).

  25. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I thought some personal characteristics or habits might be of interest to some, so…

    Churchill had unusual working habits. He would wake up and stay in bed working till lunch. He had his personal secretaries and other officials traipsing in and out of his bedroom all the time. He would rise for lunch, which was more often than not, attended by a number of friends and colleagues in addition to family member/s. He would work after lunch and then take an afternoon/evening nap. He would rise for supper, which seemed to take place anywhere between 8 and 10pm. This would generally be a “business meal” with Chiefs of Staff, foreign leaders, political allies, etc dropping in. After supper he might watch a film and then go off to work until 2 or 3am; sometimes later.

    He knew his schedule was tough on his staff, but they all seem to have been rewarded in the end. He could be rough, sarcastic and rude, but all would be forgiven once he smiled. This seemed to be especially the case with the younger women, but it is safe to say that all those who worked closely with him had enormous admiration for him, even if they thought he was often stubborn and delved into areas in which he had no expertise.

    I find one part of his character particularly attractive. If the spirit moved him, he would break out in song or poetry. The spirit appears to have visited him quite often.

    I would say he had a soft heart, but knew that life is full of situations in which one must be hard and resolute, both of which he could be. I think this is not a bad combination in a man.

  26. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I am now over 3/4’s through vol 7, and have come to and passed the information regarding the Yalta Conference.

    Unlike Churchill, who traveled extensively in order to keep the pulse of and influence the war, neither Roosevelt nor Stalin could be called peripatetic. Churchill asked Roosevelt to meet in the U.K. a couple of times, but this never happened. To get Stalin to move was like moving the proverbial mountain, but he did meet them once in Tehran before the Yalta Conference. He kept saying his doctors would not let him travel, but one gets the feeling he was simply being obstinate or, more likely, demonstrating his power, by making others come to him.

    The fact that Churchill was four years older with health problems or that Roosevelt was very ill made no difference to him. It was all about power politics. And from a Realpolitik view, who could blame him? For several years, the USSR had been absorbing the greater part of the Nazi fury and in early 1945 its armies had advanced over almost all of Eastern Europe.

    The main points of discussion at Yalta had to do with the setting up of governments in previously occupied Europe after the war as well as the administration of Germany. Churchill and Roosevelt also wanted Stalin’s reassurance on the USSR’s entry into the war against Japan.

    After some discussion, the three powers agreed that France should be included in the coalition of nations which were to occupy Germany. There was some initial friction on this point, but Churchill was adamant that with the US intent on pulling its troops out of Europe within two years of Germany’s surrender, Great Britain would need France to help maintain the peace in Europe.

    The greatest amount of time was spent on the question of Poland. After much argument the big three agreed that the interim government should be made up of the Soviet backed group and those overseas Poles presently in the U.K. The US and UK were to present a list of possible candidates from the overseas Poles who would make up part of the interim government. Once the interim government was in place for some months, there would be “free and fair” elections which would determine the future rulers of Poland. In the months before the election, both the US and UK were to have observers sent to Poland to report on the situation.

    As it happened, once Yalta ended, Stalin did not live up to any of his agreements. Neutral observers were not allowed into Poland. For weeks, neither the Soviets nor their Polish Communist lackeys would respond to the lists of suggested candidates sent to them by Churchill and Roosevelt. When an agreement was made for a number of overseas Poles to meet their counterparts in Poland, the overseas Poles simply disappeared once they arrived at their destination.

    Churchill was unable to do anything to stop Stalin as Roosevelt did not support him. More importantly, the US State Dept. and Admiral Leahy did not give any real support to Churchill’s requests, as Roosevelt was so ill by this time that it was obvious that the US communications on this subject were written by the State Dept and Leahy.

    It is often said that Roosevelt sold out Eastern Europe at Yalta, but I am coming to a slightly different conclusion.

    It is clear from the comments of the various British participants that Roosevelt was already at death’s door when he arrived at Yalta. He had a wraith-like appearance. He could not concentrate for any extended period and did not much participate in the discussions. Nevertheless, he did work with Churchill and they did have “theoretical” agreements with Stalin when they left Yalta. Unfortunately, Stalin proceeded to renege on these immediately he returned to Moscow.

    It is my opinion that the real betrayal came after Roosevelt’s return to the US. This was in February of 1945 and it should be remembered he died in mid April of 1945. During this time, it appears that Roosevelt had little to do with the actual governing of the country or running of the war. The decisions appear to have been formulated and carried out by others such as Leahy, State and Marshal. So the betrayal, per se, doesn’t appear to have been on Roosevelt’s part, rather it was on the part of others.

    Why those others chose to do this is not clear to me. Whether is was a matter of wishing to keep Stalin sweet for the war in Asia, or because there were a number of communists in various government agencies helping to formulate policy or simply because they didn’t think it important to keep Eastern Europe from going Red, I can’t say.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Cornelius Ryan, in The Last Battle, mentions that FDR realized before the end that Stalin had betrayed him, breaking every promise made at Yalta. It was naive of him to expect otherwise (“If I give Stalin everything he wants and ask for nothing in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and work with me for a world of democracy and peace”), but at least he did learn — unlike so many in his administration. (Of course, many of those were in the pay of the Soviet Union, such as Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss.)

      The crucial failure, therefore, came when the Americans failed to advance further in April (they probably could have taken Dresden and Prague) and then at Potsdam, when they pulled back to the occupation lines agreed to at Yalta instead of using Stalin’s betrayal on Poland to justify keeping Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, and Saxony as well as the Czech areas.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I have come to the conclusion that Roosevelt was not quite “all there” for some time before his death. How else does one explain the incredible naivety he displayed?

        As you mention, the government was riddled with communists and their fellow travelers. I once made a list of known spies working in the USA and you might be stunned by the number there were. Other that the A-Bomb spies, the spies who worked in government and influenced policy were probably the most valuable to the USSR.

        I consider Eisenhower’s actions contributed to the failure at Potsdam in that he not only slowed down his advance once in Germany, he changed the destination from Berlin to other areas. He also sent Montgomery off toward Holland. Churchill practically begged him to continue to Berlin. What many don’t know today is that given the collapse of the German Army in the West and the fierce German resistance in the East, the Americans could have very probably reached Berlin before the Commies.

        It is well known that the German Army in the West was surrendering in amazing numbers in order to avoid being sent to fight the Soviets.

        As for Czechoslovakia, I knew a man who went into Prague with the early American units. He saw it liberated which was something special. He also saw the Americans pull out and turn it over to the Soviets. This is something he could not quite get over. It still bothered him in the late 1970’s. As I recall, he had been a reporter of some sort. I don’t know if he was with “Stars and Stripes” or another paper or agency.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          At least officially, Patton was halted at Plzen, and never reached Prague. It’s possible some small forces showed up, and certainly we could have secured the city.

          Berlin was a risky target. Bradley estimated that it would cost 100,000 men to take it, and there might easily have been a fight with Soviet forces. Letting them have it (and pay the price for it) was reasonable — provided they made a move elsewhere to make up for it. A lot of territory could have been gained at very little cost. Then they could have kept it at Potsdam instead of pulling back (which was NOT the fault of Eisenhower as far as I know).

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Eisenhower was not one of the three heads of government at Potsdam, but I do think his decision to stop the march to Berlin indicated a weakness to Stalin. To my knowledge, this was Eisenhower’s decision alone. He was not forced into it by Marshal or others. As I recall, the American forces were about 70 miles from Berlin when they stopped to turn south.

            I have also read about Bradley’s estimates, but who knows? But this was not the excuse given in the message to Churchill that I read. Rather Eisenhower said that Berlin was no longer a valuable political target as much of the government appeared to be moving South.

            Thus the Americans went South. How many lives did this cost?

            But, wishing to use words correctly, I stand corrected and will amend my statement to “his actions contributed to the failure at Potsdam.”

            As to Prague, my father’s friend was still bitter that American forces were in Prague and ordered to pull out. I do not know the number of American soldiers we are talking about, just that we were there and left. He didn’t say much about it other than that. Perhaps he was just disappointed that the Americans simply walked out of Czech and other territory which was in our hands.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Bradley estimated that it would cost 100,000 men to take it

            One wonders how he came up with this number. I believe the total American military deaths in Europe from D-Day to April 1945 were somewhere between 80-90,000.

            Did he really believe that a crumbling German Army would be able to inflict a greater number of casualties on the Americans in a matter of a couple of months? If there was such a great fear, why was Montgomery shunted off to a different theater in Holland? It is clear from the Churchill biography that the top people thought the war would not last much longer. I think in March, the thought was that VE Day would be celebrated latest in July.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Bradley’s estimate no doubt included wounded as well as dead. Berlin was heavily defended, even if the troops doing it weren’t all that good. A brief effort by 2nd Armored Division to create a bridgehead over the Elbe was unsuccessful.

  27. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have finished vol. 7.

    As the book draws to a close, Churchill is still very concerned on what will happen with the “liberated countries” once Nazi Germany is conquered. Stalin has control of almost all of Eastern Europe. Unlike Roosevelt who either agreed with Stalin’s policies or was unbelievably naive’, Churchill knew that it would take the combined pressure from American and Britain to have any chance of influencing Stalin.

    More importantly, he understood the political necessity of the American and British forces moving quickly to occupy as much territory as possible. Stalin was clearly not living up to the agreements he made in Tehran, so Churchill wanted the ability to bargain with him on points like the governments of Poland and Austria. He knew that “possession is nine tenths of the law” and pushed Eisenhower to keep his armies moving East.

    As per the Tehran agreement, the Elbe was to be the line of demarcation between the Soviets and Eisenhower’s armies. At the time this was agreed, it had seemed the Elbe was about as far as the Amer/Brits would be able to advance before the war ended. Reality proved otherwise.

    In fact, Eisenhower’s armies made great leaps toward Berlin, but for whatever reason, he changed his original plan which included fighting to Berlin. He wanted to take troops away from Montgomery’s command and use them in the Ruhr. He moved other troops toward Leipzig. Even so, the Amer/Brits came to within 50 miles of Berlin when Eisenhower ordered them to halt. He also gave a command for an overall halt to forward movement of troops under his command although it was clear that they could have continued forward in the face of very weak resistance.

    Churchill again asked him to keep moving forward, but to no avail.

    Two or three days later, Roosevelt died. This was was not unexpected, but it was a shock to Churchill. His great ally of over five years was now gone and Churchill was not sure Truman, who Churchill did not know, could fill Roosevelt’s shoes.

    Truman was keen to meet Churchill who had planned to go to Roosevelt’s funeral. But in the end, he decided he could not leave the country as several of his senior ministers were already away in San Francisco for the founding meeting of the United Nations.

    To Churchill’s delight, Truman proved to be in closer agreement with Churchill’s views as regards Stalin and the Soviets than was Roosevelt. From this time onwards, Churchill took a more aggressive stance with Stalin. This is not to say he was belligerent, but he did have more confidence to do what he thought best to save countries from falling under communist rule.

    He prodded Alexander to increase the number of troops in the area of Trieste and Istria in order to keep Tito from grabbing all that land from Italy. By doing this, he believed he was also helping weaken the future power of communists in Italy. He figured if given the choice between giving up Italian territory or supporting Yugoslavian communists, the Italians would opt for keeping Italian soil.

    Tito had also sent men into part of Austria, but Alexander’s show of strength, convinced him to remove them quickly.

    The extent of Churchill’s concerns about communism even extended to Denmark. In order to keep Soviet troops away from Denmark, he pushed for Montgomery to go into Luebeck, thus cutting off any chance of Stalin getting his hands on part of Scandinavia.

    As this was happening, a German General Wolff was negotiating with the Allies for the surrender of all German forces in Italy. Himmler also sent feelers through Sweden to surrender to the Allies in the West, but to continue fighting in the East. Churchill kept Stalin informed of all such negotiations, but the Soviets were still nervous the Amer/Brits might bail on them.

    In the end, Hitler committed suicide and various German commands surrendered before it was clear to the Allies who would take over after Hitler. It was Admiral Doenitz who signed the document of surrender as the head of state.

    Although the war in Europe was virtually over, due to the continued sporadic fighting which took place, especially in the East, the Allies had trouble decided what date to declare VE Day. They almost declared May 6th, then Stalin said no, they then moved it to May 7th and Stalin said no again. But Churchill wrote back to him and said, that for reasons of letting the public know and in order to declare a public holiday, he was going to declare May 8th as VE Day. And he did.

    The private and public outpouring of love and appreciation to Churchill was enormous. But one of his secretaries did note something less than this when Churchill and his three military Chiefs had a drink together. Apparently, not one of them toasted his health.

    On to volume 8 and the end.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One thing I will point out here is that if Eisenhower had advanced even a little further in Prussian Saxony, and the Anglo-Americans had insisted on keeping the area, supplying West Berlin would have been easier due to much shorter supply corridors — probably from Magdeburg and Torgau.

      Tito ended up keeping Istria, and Fiume at its eastern end, but Italy did finally keep Trieste (which, unlike Istria, had been a key part of Italia irredenta).

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I think Churchill’s main aim was to keep Italian territory from Trieste back. He was very concerned about losing what is now the province of Friulia-Venezia-Giulia, i.e. a large part of Northeast Italy.

        Tito and his people moved into these areas before the Brits got there and the communists “disappeared” a lot of people who were not even Fascists.

        Luckily, Churchill had the foresight to stop Greece from going communist and stopping Tito’s land grab elsewhere. Alexander’s troops also occupied most of Western and parts of Southern Austria. This was also important for the future of Europe.

        Even the French tried to claim part of Italy. They were eventually forced out of there as they were from Syria. I think this may be one of the reasons De Gaulle was so anti-Churchill.

        It is not generally known that the French sent a warship to the Syrian coast and bombarded it. Several hundred people were killed. Churchill sent the Royal Navy to stop this murder and the French were required to withdraw.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Alexander had a strong anti-Bolshevik reputation due to his assistance to the White forces during the Russian Civil War. This is one reason the Cossacks couldn’t believe Alexander would turn them over to Stalin as his part of the atrocious Operation Keelhaul. Unfortunately, he had his orders, and he obeyed them.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            It seems amazing that Churchill and Roosevelt would have agreed to repatriation of all Soviet citizens, but they did. Not only that, many White Russians who had never been Soviet citizens were also sent to Stalin’s loving arms and shot.

            It seems Churchill’s main concern was the return of British POW’s who had been “liberated” by Soviet troops as they marched on Berlin. To guarantee this, he agreed to send all Soviets in Western areas back to the USSR.

            Clearly Stalin knew how to use human pawns. Why Roosevelt could not understand this was part of Stalin’s basic character, I cannot know.

            I should also say that from reading some of Churchill’s communications on the subject, he did not worry overly much about sending back Soviets who had fought for the Nazis. He was a little concerned for those who might have been forced to fight, but otherwise…..

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Note that the Cossack officers had been among those who were never Soviet citizens. Included among the pawns sent back to their doom were Soviet POWs, who were treated as traitors — as much as anything, because they had seen a far better world as prisoners. (Ryan mentions in The Last Battle that Soviet slave laborers in Berlin were the only Allied prisoners in the city who did NOT want the Soviet Army to be the one that took the city.)

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Included among the pawns sent back to their doom were Soviet POWs, who were treated as traitors — as much as anything, because they had seen a far better world as prisoners.

                It was like Stalin thought these people would infect the rest of the Soviet Union.

                This is a very good example of the extremes Statists will go to in order to control the flow of information to those they mis-rule.

  28. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have read a little over 20% of vol. 8.

    The books starts with VE Day and the the joy which it occasioned, but the book also shows the many problems which beset Churchill and the West as regards what would happen in Eastern Europe now that Germany had been defeated.

    An taste of what was to come was the news that the 15 Free Polish officials who had disappeared after traveling to a meeting they had been invited to attend. They had been lured to Poland and arrested by the NKVD and tried for crimes against the USSR.

    Churchill was particularly concerned that America was to remove a large number of troops from Europe and send the to the Far East. On the longer term, he was worried about America’s commitment to have all troops out of Europe within two years from the end of the war. He saw the makings of an even larger war in the making and was convinced that only a unified West could prevent it.

    Upon the defeat of Germany, Churchill wished to continue the war coalition until the defeat of Japan. But Labor would have none of it. The question was when to have the elections. July and October were the months discussed. It was finally decided to call for elections in early July with results to be announced three weeks after the official election. This was in order to give soldiers the ability to have their votes counted. Most people believed this would work to the Conservatives advantage, but in the end, Churchill and the party were thrown out. If any further proof were needed that the public is generally full of idiots, this is it. Even Attlee knew and admitted how much Great Britain owed to Churchill. Once, when giving a dinner party someone remarked something to the effect that “Churchill’s contribution to winning the war was probably overstated”, Attlee said, “there is one person who won the war, and that is Winston Churchill.” It should be observed that if the U.K. had a presidential system, Churchill would have won hands-down.

    I will continue this later, but before I do I want to point out a little known or discussed fact about WWII, is that the Republic of Ireland was close to an ally of the Axis powers. They refused cooperation with the U.K. throughout the war. They were particularly disagreeable in their refusal to allow the U.K. to use any Irish Ports. This would have been very helpful for the War in the Atlantic. Churchill believed it would have saved thousands of lives. I believe they also refused use of any airfields as well.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Technically, that’s neutrality, since they never let the Germans use those ports and airfields either. Of course, at the time Ireland was (I believe) a member of the Commonwealth, which is no longer true. There were undoubtedly many Irish who preferred Germany (cf. Jack Higgins’s The Eagle Has Landed), but the government itself was another matter. If Germany had been a serious threat (such as by successfully invading England), the situation might have been very different.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Ireland was had Dominion Status and was a member of the Commonwealth.

        The IRA actively tried to get into the war against Britain. A number of IRA spies were picked up in England during the war.

        The Treaty Ports had only been signed away by G.B. a year or so before the war started.

        De Valera signed a condolence book at the German embassy upon Hitler’s death. No other head of government in Europe did such a thing.

  29. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Following on my previous post, the war in Europe had ended and Churchill pushed for a meeting of the big three asap. This ended up being the Potsdam Conference during which it was decided that France would be an occupying power thus post-war Germany would be divided into four zones. It was also agreed that Soviet troops would pull out of Iran in the near future. The most time and effort was spent on the question of Poland. We all know how that turned out.

    Given the reality that the Soviets had occupied all of Eastern and Central Europe, Churchill was fearful of what they would do next. He is clearly of the opinion that the only reason the USSR does not continue its move westward is due to the USA having the bomb. And he wanted to make sure the Soviets were sure it would be used if they tried to use military might to conquer the rest of Europe.

    Churchill was a big supporter of France and pushed for France to regain its position as a great power in Europe, which meant the rebuilding of France’s army. This is one of the reasons Churchill wanted France to have its own occupied zone in Germany. He knew the USA was pulling out its troops and that the U.K. alone could not stand up to the Soviets.

    An interesting point, which I did not know, was that Churchill was a big supporter of a United Europe. He actively pushed for the creation of some sort of European Union before the French and Germans agreed to work together. Interestingly, it was the Labour party in the U.K. which was against this and refused to take any part in the various conferences calling for such a union. Churchill believed it was necessary to unite Europe in order to, among other things, prevent future wars.

    Almost immediately the Tories’ lose in 1945, Churchill started planning to write his wartime memoirs. He put together a team to help him collect the necessary materials and produce outlines and correct errors. In the end, Churchill wrote six vols.

    The sale of these memoirs was hugely profitable for Churchill. Due to the tax laws, he set up a trust into which all proceeds from the books were deposited and these were held for Churchill’s children and grandchildren.

    Probably the most important thing which Churchill did during this time was, as he did in the 1930’s, warn the world against tyranny. But this time it was Soviet Communism which was his target. He focused this message in his famous, “Fulton College” speech in which he used the term “iron curtain”. Surprisingly, he received a lot of flack for this speech, on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet, in a year many of those who attacked him had to admit he was correct.

  30. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    After the Tories lost power in July of 1945, Churchill became leader of the opposition. Interestingly, Churchill had a contentious relationship with many Tories. Some still held his years as a Liberal against him. Possibly even more resented his being correct and vocal about the Tories’ failure to stand up to Hitler in the 1930’s. Others wished him to retire so they could move up the ladder. To the consternation of these types, Churchill decided he had much to contribute and, in fact, could not walk away from his responsibility to keep the country on the right track.

    The Labour Party was truly a socialist party and started deconstructing the Great Britain which Churchill loved. They nationalized industry, attacted wealth and tradition and penalized success. The top marginal tax rate on unearned income went up to 97.5%. Not surprisingly, this put a crimp on all sorts of investment.

    Given the parliamentary system in the U.K., there was little Churchill and the Tories could do to stop the major changes taking place. Nevertheless, Churchill did his best to point out the follies of Labour governance and warn Britons and the world of the potential problems which could arise out of a divided Europe.

    Unlike many, Churchill wished to bring Germany back into the family of nations. He knew that if all of Germany fell under the Communist sway, it would be disastrous for Great Britain and the world. The USA withdrew most of its soldiers from the continent and France was still weak. Churchill figured the Soviets could march across Europe in a few weeks if they wished. He knew that if this were to happen the only hope the U.K. had to hold off the Soviets was a strong air force, but even that would probably fail in the end. To his mind, only the U.S.A. and the bomb had kept and would continue to keep the Soviets from further expansion.

    Unlike many in the U.K., Churchill was a great believer in the “special relationship” with America. He thought that not only would Great Britain gain from the relationship, he also thought that G.B. could influence the USA for the better. In any case, he thought an alliance between the two countries could keep the Soviet Union in its place and would be beneficial to the whole world in general.

    The loss power gave Churchill time to rest and turn his attention to other projects. I have already mentioned his war memoirs, but he also started repairing his country home Chartwell and expanded his land holding in the same area.

    At first, it seemed Churchill would have to sell Chartwell as repairs and upkeep would be too much for his means. But some wealthy friends decided that if he would sell the property to them, they would rent it back to him for as long as he and his wife lived, and then give the property to the National Trust. Churchill agreed to this proposition and it began his financial recovery. I am about 50% through the final volume and so far, he has not had any further money problems and I believe he never had any such problems up to his death.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The mystery writer John Dickson Carr (a specialist in locked-room mysteries) had moved from the US to Britain during the New Deal. After Labor came in and imposed an ever more strongly socialist system, he moved back to America.

      It’s a good thing the West decided to rebuild West Germany, but it’s also a pity they didn’t do a better job after World War I. Some sort of irredentism was very likely inevitable (the Germans simply couldn’t bring themselves to accept the consequences of having lost the war, partly because so many refused to admit that they had in fact lost it), but it didn’t have to be as bad as it was.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        As I recall, Churchill thought the Versailles Treaty was foolish and was a guarantee of future war. Of course, those in charge of making the treaty did not listen to him.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Lloyd-George was willing to reduce the beggaring of Germany — but only where the French would benefit. Still, that’s at least better than Clemenceau (an admittedly low bar, given the latter’s genocidal hatred of Germany).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Even though I haven’t been shouting to the moon, I’ve been following these summations by Mr. Kung. (He’s saved me a HELL of a lot of reading time as well.) And I think he’s as freakish as Churchill. Churchill was not typical. And Mr. Kung writing in depth about one subject — instead of what is usual on the internet which is just a lot of shallow chatter about nothing in particular — is almost equally atypical.

      Mr. Kung is creating a record of a significant work in Western Civilization about a major player in Western Civilization. And for no reward. People might think it odd that monks ever bent over a desk for hours on end, illuminated by dim candlelight, in order to painstakingly copy the treasures of the West. Maybe now it makes just a little more sense.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Thanks Brad. I will miss Churchill when I finish this last volume. He has been with me, night in night out, for over three months

        I laughed when I read your bit about monks. I could see myself, with tonsure, toiling away on vellum.

  31. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    During the years 1945-1951 Churchill was very concerned about America’s declining roll in Europe and the growing power in the Soviet Union. To add to his worries, the Labour government did not appear to wish to keep the close ties with the U.S. that Churchill did. They were also not committed to defense spending in anything like the same degree as Churchill was.

    What changed this state of things was the Korean War. Once this came about, the U.S. noted how poorly prepared our military was for such a contingency. In no time at all, American started a massive rearmament which carried on for years. Not unlike his opinion regarding America’s entry into WWII, Churchill saw this rearmament as vital to achieving and maintaining world peace.

    Much happened in the six years the Tories were out of power. The Soviets consolidated their hold on East Europe. Israel was created. India was granted autonomy and China went communist. There was little Churchill could do about any of these things. But he had strong opinions on all.

    He loathed the Soviet takeover of its satellite states. Interestingly, before the Soviets had the bomb, Churchill would have supported the USA giving the Soviets a choice between withdrawing from Eastern Europe or having Russian cities destroyed by overwhelming force. But he knew once the Soviets had the bomb there was little the West could do to change things. He though however that the national feelings of Poland and the other satellite nations could not be crushed and the Soviets might be forced to loosen their grip in a few decades.

    Churchill was a strong supporter of Israel, since the end of WWI at the very latest. He saw Zionism as something of a counter-weight to Bolshevism which was such an allure to many Eastern European Jews, as well as a safety valve for the Jewish people who might wish to have a homeland of their own. In the event, the Holocaust could only strengthen his feelings in this regard. It should also be noted that he did not hold a very high regard for Arabs in general. He often pointed out that the Jews were making Palestine a garden spot, which the Arabs who had been there for over a thousand years, failed to do.

    By the time India was granted autonomy, Churchill was willing to let her go, but thought India should be a federal state and have Dominion status. Churchill was a true believer in Great Britain’s duty to protect both the untouchables and minority Muslims from the power of the “caste Hindus”. He believed and was proven correct that unless Britain maintained responsibility for law and order and protection of all citizens, a blood bath would result. Anyone familiar with the partition of India and Pakistan know how right he was. Some estimate that one million people were slaughtered in the year after the two States came into being. To Churchill, these were not just numbers.

    Churchill, unlike the Americans, wished to maintain trading relations with both the Soviet Union and Red China. His belief was that by doing so, one could “infiltrate” those Communist countries with consumer goods and the like over time thus helping to open them to the world. I must say, that having been in the Soviet Union a couple of times before it fell apart, I saw that his ideas were somewhat unrealistic. In 1974, there were few “consumer goods” of any type, much less western ones. Of course, he agreed with the US that they should not trade in military articles.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’ve seen at least one article pointing out that the blood price of partition in India was far greater than the blood price of partition in Palestine — yet (not surprisingly) many complain about Israel in that respect with never a concern about Pakistan.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Churchill well understood this.

        For years he pointed out that the Brits had many more troops in Palestine than they had in all of India. He saw this as ridiculous on several levels.

        Palestine was a fraction of the size of India thus from a physical point of view did not have need for so many troops. The population of Palestine was also a fraction of India’s so again why so many troops.

        Given these two points alone, the potential for bloodshed was much larger in India than in Palestine.

        It should also be said that Churchill saw Britain’s responsibility to India as much greater than that to Palestine. Palestine had only become a protectorate after WWI. India had been part of the British Empire since the mutiny in 1857, but the connections between the two went back to the East India Company which started doing business in the sub-continent in the 17th century.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I can’t remember if Mr. Kung said it, Churchill said it, or if it was part of the dialogue of “Lawrence of Arbia.” But the point was that you can’t intervene in the Middle East unless you intend to keep and hold territory and to do what is necessary in that regard.

          The naive multi-culti view of Islam forbids this kind of realism. We are to treat them as if they a car that just needed a little jump start in order to zoom down the democracy highway. The reality is that this is a backward tribal culture constrained morally, politically, and intellectually by the backward and barbaric system of Islam.

          India certainly had Muslims (and if they had had none, they would have been better off). But whatever faults are due hinduism and Indian culture in general, it is not the animalistic, poisonous, murderous culture typically inculcated by Islam. The British obviously did not have to have as many soldiers in India because Indians were not a barbarous people. Muslims are a barbarous people.

          As president of the United States, I would engage reality and tell people that a requirement of any intervention in Muslim countries is to take and hold territory…to basically take out of the hands of Muslims the power to run things and to run them yourself. That is the only solution.

          But because of multiculturalist dogma, including the generally widespread view that Islam is a “religion of peace,” our efforts in the Middle East have been for naught. And it’s not because we backed this faction instead of that faction, or surged here and not there. It’s because we didn’t understand our enemy. We still don’t understand our enemy. Good god, look at the naive fools in Europe letting in millions of unassimilated Muslims. What in God’s sake do they think can come from that?

          To the extent that anyone, including kooky libertarians, want to criticize George Bush’s foreign policy as “neo con,” I can’t disagree. There is almost no rational discussion of Islam and the Middle East.

          One man who understood Islam was Winston Churchhill:

          “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.

          The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities – but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Ghazalis and Jihadis have been around as long as there has been Islam. The problem today is a combination of open borders, modern communications, international trade and modern weapons.

  32. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Churchill and the Tories returned to power in October of 1951. Truman was still president and Churchill and he had a good relationship. Churchill supported American aims in Korea and hoped to form even stronger ties with America in order to contain world Communism. While cooperation in Asia was important, in Churchill’s opinion, the front line in the war on Communism was, as with the front line against Nazism, Europe.

    He was keen on the formation of an EDC, European Defense Community, which would exist somewhat parallel to NATO. In order for this EDC to be effective, Churchill maintained that Germany must be brought back into the community of nations and, along with France, form the core of this organization. The French were having none of it. Churchill told the French that whatever they did, Germany had to be rearmed in order to protect Europe from the Soviets. He made clear that if Germany did not become part of the EDC, Germany would become a member of NATO, and France would be left on her own. This was an ongoing fight.

    During the American election year of 1952, Churchill followed events in the USA closely. Having worked with Eisenhower, Churchill was sure he could work with him.
    Churchill also knew Adlai Stevenson and thought him a good man. I believe Churchill would have preferred the Dems won, but was not unhappy when Eisenhower was elected. It is clear however that a year or so later, he bemoaned the fact that the Dems lost. In my opinion, this largely had to do with his dislike of John Foster Dulles who was the only person I have seen Churchill call a “bastard”. He thought Ike simply repeated everything Dulles said as regards foreign policy. And to Churchill’s mind, Dulles was drastically wrong.

    Upon hearing of Stalin’s death Churchill pushed for a summit between the U.S., U.S.S.R. and Great Britain. He believed it was important to meet Malenkov, the new leader of the Soviet Union. Eisenhower refused to go along with Churchill and made it clear that any such meeting could only take place after lower level meetings had taken place and concrete ideas, positions and proposals were clearly stated. I would have to agree with Eisenhower’s position on this.

    One of Churchill’s weaknesses was his conviction that he could, more often than not, convince others to come around to his way of thinking. He seemed to think he was always working with English gentlemen who believed in fair-play instead of heads of state, who were often brutal dictators and had both personal and national interests which were hugely at odds with Churchill’s.

    On a side note, many consumer goods were rationed in the U.K. for years after the end of WWII. For example, I believe butter was rationed up to 1954. As I recall from conversations with English friends, the last rations were removed in 1955, fully ten years after the war’s end.

    That being said, the Tories do appear to be better on this than Labour. Apparently, when one Labour deputy minister was asked about removing the sugar ration he went into a song and dance about how shortages would arise etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. When, shortly thereafter, the rationing of sugar was revoked, a huge glut of sugar came about within six months. Further proof of excellence in socialist economic thought.

  33. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Here are some words Churchill spoke to some Congressional leaders on a visit to the USA:

    “Communism uses any motive, sordid or violently belligerent, to gain its end. Actually, it is only another form of aristocracy or bureaucracy seeking control of millions of people and digging itself in. Communism is a tyranny which will be difficult to overthrow, but let us of the free world make sure that we make every sacrifice to keep it from ourselves and to keep it from being foisted, by force or ignorance, upon the human race.”

    As I have been saying for years, these types, which include the Statists on both sides of the aisle see us as serfs and themselves as Lords and Ladies of the Manor. It is gratifying to see I am on the right track. If Sir Winston was of a similar mind, I am quite happy to keep on the path. We shouldn’t let things get too complicated. This is what it is all about, power and wealth which go hand-in-hand.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Yes, this brings up again the notion that wiht the Left, there is the stated justification for the policy (which they rarely if ever really believe), and the actual reason for the policy (which always either enhances their power, or increases their chance of acquiring power, or both).

  34. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I thought I might take this opportunity to write a little about Churchill’s family.
    Churchill married Clementine Hozier, who was ten years younger, in 1908. By the time he died, they had been married for almost 57 years.

    Churchill was clearly a very ego-centric and selfish man. He lived life the way he wished and expected those around him to adjust. Clementine adjusted, but there can be little doubt she paid a heavy price for her complete dedication to Churchill.

    Churchill and Clemmie spent a huge amount of time away from each other. Of course, Churchill needed to travel for “business” i.e. politics so one might expect that Clementine would not wish to go on all such trips. But I believe it is equally the case that she needed to get away from Churchill, as he was at the same time very demanding and very dismissive. When he wanted her to be there, she had to be there. When he wanted to paint or something else, she was ignored and virtually disappeared. This type of treatment would wear on anyone and it was particularly difficult for Clementine because of her very insecure childhood. During her life she experienced many bouts of hysteria and depression. From reading Churchill’s letters to Clementine, one can sense he understood his guilt in contributing to Clementine’s problems. The letters are often pure treacle, like something one would expect from a very young man who has a bad conscious, knowing he should be at home supporting his wife. But his guilt was not enough to convince him to actually go and support his spouse.

    Perhaps an indication of the unusual character of the marriage can be seen from the fact that even when they were together in the same house, they often communicated by memos and notes. It might be argued that they did so because of Churchill’s unusual hours or because as a very busy man who had held numerous government ministries, he had gotten into the habit of communicating by paper. I am not sure I believe either possibility is the true reason for such a strange habit.

    Nevertheless, there was a true affection between them, which lasted until Churchill’s death.

    Churchill and Clementine had five children, four daughters and one son. One daughter, Marigold, died a before turning three. Of the others, only the youngest child, Mary, seems to have had a happy “normal” life. Diana the eldest committed suicide, Randolph died of cancer and would appear to have been something of a lush and Sarah became an actress who also had some problem with drink. These three went through numerous marriages and affairs. Each died relatively young with only Sarah making it into her sixties.

    Randolph was spoiled by his father, one senses because of the neglect Churchill experienced from his own father. Randolph was at times lazy, rude, stubborn and stupid. But he was always ready for an argument. And while there is no doubt father and son loved each other, their relationship best prospered when they were out of each other’s company.

    All three girls devoted much time to traveling with and caring for their father. In doing so, they gave their mother a respite from the burden of serving Winston. But one can feel that the older two paid for the strong connection to their father as seen by the many problems they had in their later lives.

    I believe there is nothing very surprising in all of this. It is common for the families of great men to suffer and become highly dysfunctional. After all, one does not get to the top of a nation by spending a lot of time with one’s children. Neglect of family is almost certainly a default position built into great ambition.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Great men are rarely good men.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Another reason I so admire George Washington.

        As “dis-functional” as Churchill’s family was, I don’t think he was a bad man. In fact, he was a good man in many ways. He just wasn’t the greatest family man in history.

  35. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Churchill had been visited by dizzy spells for some years. In 1949 he had a minor stroke, but recovered fully. But in July of 1953 he had a major stroke and his doctor and family were worried he might not survive over the weekend. As was so often the case, he fooled them all and was up in eight days. Not for the first nor last time did his doctor and others observe that the man had an iron will and did not appear to be subject to the rules of nature like the rest of us.

    Because of his stroke, he had to put off a meeting with Eisenhower in the Caribbean to discuss and formulate a policy regards relations to the Soviets. Disappointed, Churchill held out hope that he could meet with Eisenhower sometime in the not too distant future, which he did.

    Churchill understood the danger of the Soviet Union, but wanted to do everything possible to ensure that war between the Soviets and the Western Block did not break out. To pursue this line he desired to have a face-to-face summit between the US, British and Soviet leaders after Stalin died. He did not demand an prior agreements be worked out by foreign ministers before such a meeting was to be held. Eisenhower and Dulles would not go for this idea.

    After this meeting some others in Churchill’s government tried to draw a comparison between the USA’s Guatemala and the Soviet Union’s somewhere in Eastern Europe. Churchill would have none of it accusing his people of trying to make trouble and spitting out that he had never heard of Guatemala until he was almost eighty. He did this because the foundation, cornerstone and keystone of his foreign policy was to stay maintain unbreakable ties with the USA. He recommended this to all future Britons.

    In November 1954 Churchill turned eighty. The last P.M. to have reached that age was Gladstone. Many in his cabinet and party at large, thought he should retire. In fact, he had already promised to retire and let Eden take over, but he had backed out of his promise because his health had improved and he thought only he had the chance to improve Western/Soviet relations. When it finally became clear that there was to be no summit, he gave a date for his retirement and stuck to it. Thus he left political office for good in 1955, but he did not leave parliament. As planned, shortly after his retirement Eden as caretaker P.M. called for a general election and Churchill ran again for his Commons seat. The Tories and he won.

    The Queen wished to show the nation’s gratitude by conferring a noble title on him. But the palace let it be known that there would be no more Ducal titles bestowed on any outside the royal family. They were somewhat concerned that it might be an insult to offer him anything lower. But Churchill’s secretary reconfirmed that he was not interested in nobility and even if offered a Dukedom, Churchill would refuse it. Thus assured, the Queen made the gesture and offered to make him a Duke, which he refused. When he got back to his secretary he told him he almost accepted it for the Queen’s sake, and that when he didn’t she seemed to relax.

    In the end, he was made a Knight of the Garter.

    For a number of years, he maintained interest in the happenings in government. He received regular news from Eden and later MacMillan as well as from others who had been his subordinates. But he began to spend more time in the south of France painting and visiting friends. He also became a horse owner whose horses performed well on the race course.

    His late literary project was “The History of the English Speaking Peoples” which was a big success. After completing this, he put down his pen except for a few articles and personal correspondence. He spent more time painting and when that was lost to him, he read a great amount of good literature.

    I did not know it, but during this time, he became very friendly with Aristotle Onassis, who by all accounts truly looked up to cared for Churchill. On one occasion, while driving through the streets of some British Colony in an open aired vehicle, Onassis insisted Churchill needed blankets and wrapped them “tenderly” around Churchill to ensure he didn’t catch cold.

    Churchill and various friends, family members and attendants took eight voyages on Onassis’ yacht, “Christina”. These covered the Mediterranean, Black and Caribbean Seas as well as the Atlantic Ocean and I believe the Red Sea. Churchill also spent a fair amount of time at the Hotel de Paris and in the Casino, which were controlled by Onassis. Some thought Onassis was picking up Churchill’s bill, but according to, Anthony Montague Browne, Churchill’s secretary for the last decade of his life, this was not the case.

    As one would expect, Churchill’s health deteriorated over the last few years of his life. His deafness increased and he had several minor strokes. Not surprisingly for a man of his age, many of his close friends and comrades died before he did. He saw few people and for the last year or two of his life, it would appear only family and very close colleagues were allowed to see him. This must have been hard for a man who was known to entertain lavishly.

    In October of 1964 he made his last trip to his beloved Chartwell. On January 15th of 1965 he suffered a massive stroke and died on January 24th. The Queen declared that he was to have a state funeral, a high honor. While his body lay in state in Westminster Hall, 300,000 people waited in the winter cold to file by and show their respect. His coffin was then taken to St. Paul’s where over 3,000 dignitaries including Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers and others attended the service.

    His coffin was then put on a boat on the Thames, which delivered it to Waterloo Station for his last journey by special train to the graveyard near Blenheim Palace were he had been born. There his remains were put to rest with those of his parents and other relatives. The remains of his wife and children would join him their. The link below is to a short clip of his state funeral.

    I find it a sign of the approaching apocalypse that such a person as Princess Diana was accorded the same honor as the greatest Englishman of the twentieth century, if not of all time.

    I have now completed the full eight volumes of this, the best biography I have ever read, and find myself relieved and sad, at the same time. Relieved that I have made it through the thousands of pages which make up Churchill’s biography, but sad that I will no longer be able to look forward to a quiet hour or two every night as I have for the last four months. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The US intervention in Iran to remove Mossadegh (which so exercises liberals today) was done at the request of Britain, so that may be one reason Churchill didn’t criticize the similar (and nearly simultaneous) intervention in Guatemala.

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