American History

REVIEWS

SO MANY HOURS

imprinting on the popular mind an improbably demotic Winston Churchill—prosthetically enhanced Gary Oldman hanging with Tube-traveling plebs (wrong) and sprinting around Whitehall (right)—here comes Roberts, prolific historian and biographer of Napoleon and Lords Salisbury and Halifax, to rebalance his late countryman’s portrait. In 1,151 vivid pages, corrects Hollywood’s airbrushing of the 20th century’s indispensable 19th-century or perhaps 18th-century man by incising into that rosy rendering needed shadows of rampant imperialism and relentless self-aggrandizement. As Patrick O’Brian refused in his Age of Sail swashbucklers to consider that a reader might not speak fluent pre-industrial navalese, so too Roberts deigns not to simplify. He paints Churchill’s long and complex life, notably its political aspects, with a Britannic granularity that, like a Turner canvas, perfectly illuminates with barely a stroke of explication, and for that bless the author’s heart. Roberts explains by showing, and if that means one must gnash through the occasional gnarl regarding the minute implications of by-election and deselection in an obscure borough, then one must. Roberts’s Churchill is not only British as British can be but a New World in the mode of the buccaneering American mother who bore him. He slashes through life utterly confident—“In the high position I shall occupy,” he tells chum Murland Evans at 16, “it will fall to me to save the capital and save the Empire.”—yet tormented by his father’s scorn, failure, and early death. This Churchill contains many, many words, brief and attenuated, some new and some old, all brilliantly deployed but no more of either than this fine volume’s subject demands and deserves.

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da American History

American History2 min lettiInternational Relations
Considering Carter
Asked to sum up Jimmy Carter, many Americans would describe a kindly, gentle man not up to being president who, upon departing Washington, did many nice things. Former Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter adds significant nuance to that conventional thumbn
American History11 min letti
Tent Show King
On a balmy day in 1928 in a remote Texas town—Muleshoe, maybe, or Sweetwater or Spur or Dickens, perhaps Big Springs, Junction, Eldorado, or Matador, the big state has so many such places—folks from near and far jam either side of Main Street, drawn
American History2 min lettiPolitics
By The Numbers
The Hour of Fate explodes the assumption that economic history must be dull. Bloomberg News reporter Susan Berfield blends exhaustive research and gripping style to explain how at the turn of the 20th century the United States dealt with the developm