The Last Lion

Fifty years ago yesterday, Sir Winston Churchill died. It was not unexpected, amongst other things he was 90 years old.

He was many things, really. For most of us (British and American) he was the heroic leader of Britain when she stood alone against the Nazis in 1940. Who can forget

And that was perhaps the moment when the sympathies of America began to align with Great Britain, for indeed this was one of the darkest hours for freedom ever seen.

But there was more to him, He fancied himself as a general, with sometimes disastrous effects, such as at Gallipoli in the Great War. On the other side, he took a boyish delight in leading men, during D-Day the only thing that dissuaded him from observing from one of the invasion ships, was when the King said that if Winnie was going, so was he.

In his so-called wilderness years he warned about the dangers of appeasement (to the point that it has an evil reputation today) and yet Dr. John Charmley has said repeatedly, it is very hard to see what else Chamberlin else could have done. Here is a column from a few years ago that he wrote for BBC History.

Kind history

‘History will judge us kindly’, Churchill told Roosevelt and Stalin at the Tehran Conference in 1943; when asked how he could be so sure, he responded: ‘because I shall write the history’. And so he did, in the six massive volumes of The Second World War. The first volume, The Gathering Storm, describes his opposition to the appeasement of Hitler during the 1930s, and provides the text for a BBC TV drama of the same name.

It is a good tale, told by a master story-teller, who did, after all, win the Nobel prize for literature; but would the Booker prize for fiction have been more appropriate?

There is, in fact, nothing very controversial about the claim that Churchill was alone in his opposition to appeasement; it was one he made himself in 1948, and is generally acknowledged. If you want controversy, it must come in the form of an argument to counter the central thesis of The Gathering Storm, namely that Churchill was right and his critics wrong. This is a difficult task, because The Gathering Storm has been one of the most influential books of our time. It is no exaggeration to claim that it has strongly influenced the behaviour of Western politicians from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush.

Its central theme – the futility of appeasement and the need to stand up to dictators – is one that has been taken for granted as a self-evident truth in Western society, both during the period of the Cold War and subsequently. The evidence for this supposed truth is Churchill’s view of the 1930s as ‘the years that the locust hath eaten’, during which the Western powers, by their own folly, allowed Germany to re-arm; never again, the message went, must this be allowed to happen. It is a good tale, told by a master story-teller, who did, after all, win the Nobel prize for literature; but would the Booker prize for fiction have been more appropriate?

Continue reading Churchill: The Gathering Storm

Dr. Charmley also contributed to a current column from BBC News called The 10 greatest controversies of Winston Churchill’s career.

While I can understand the criticism, and some of it is likely justified, much of it strikes me as small minds applying today pernicious standards of political correctness, retroactively, just as we’ve talked about before in shallow interpretations if Kipling.

Churchill believed in the Empire and that it was good both for Britain and for the colonies as well. If we look at the world today, with the current removal of the Empire and now the retrenchment of American leadership, I find it difficult to disagree too much.

So yes, he had his faults, some of them great faults, he also had great virtues, and more because of his virtues, he has become an icon of Great Britain, the Commonwealth, and the United States as well, for not only is he one of a handful of honorary American citizens (less than half-a-dozen, I think) he was half American, his mother was Jennie Jerome of New York. I think that cross-pollination bore very good fruit, and continues to do so, as our countries go forward together.

FVhF8GU

 

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

10 Responses to The Last Lion

  1. the unit says:

    I was born during the war. Was a movie goer in the ’50’s when Churchill was in his final term as Prime Minister of U.K. Back then at movie house Movietone new reels is how I got news, along with Martin Agronsky on radio. That during Korean War. I feel affection for being able to relate to those times.
    Twenty years ago a young man who fished with me didn’t have the cash to pay his share of the gas(there was normally three or four of us and tank for a day was 90 gallons/90 dollars) cost and gave me his portable radio for his share. I asked him if he listened to talk radio. He said “yes, I do”… he said he listened to Paul Harvey. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      I was born within a few months of the Queen’s coronation, and so don’t remember him in office, but the people who brought me up and trained me, uniformly, well the only word that fits is, loved him. Lion of England, and perhaps the best friend America ever had.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. the unit says:

    Those years news reels were filled with Gen. MacArthur, Churchill and John Foster Dulles.
    Not an expert on those years in history, but read Churchill and Ike had disagreements. But worked them out.
    I found this about what Churchill said about the SoS back then…
    “[John] Foster Dulles is the only case I know of a bull who carries his china shop with him.”
    Has anything worked for hope and change ever? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Yep, they were some men, and women too. Not that I know of, things rarly work that aren’t based in reality.

      Like

  3. the unit says:

    Yes. Who writes history? Not a question “persackly.” Who writes the present is. That’s a statement. I’ve given this reference so long it should be accepted as truth,… if you say something over and over, it’s finally accepted as true.. From Paul Weyrich …Wiki quotes…Yegor Gaidar told him…” ‘Well, the Soviets spent millions of dollars infiltrating your media. Just because the Soviet Union went away doesn’t mean these people have gone away. They are still there.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Yep, lo’s of ‘true believers’ left over. If they’d an sense they’d never have believed in the first place! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        🙂 Yeppers.

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  4. boudicabpi says:

    Reblogged this on BPI reblog and commented:

    The Last Lion

    Like

  5. Pingback: BPI reblog Daily Archives: January 28, 2015 | Boudica BPI Weblog

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