CHURCHILL: Visionary. Statesman. Historian.

John Lukacs, Author . Yale Univ. $21.95 (202p) ISBN 978-0-300-09769-6

A prolific senior historian of modern Europe, Lukacs has written about Churchill many times before, most recently in Five Days in London, May 1940. That recycled a small part of his The Duel: 10 May–31 July: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler. This rather thin new volume contains little that is new, and is seemingly a reorganization of Lukacs's lecture notes, leavings, reconsiderations and reviews. There are shrewd chapters on Churchill's cautious relations with Stalin, Roosevelt and Eisenhower, and on Churchill's critics. There are reevaluations of Churchill as a visionary and as a historian capable of "splendid phrases and passages," often at his best when "personal and participatory." Although Lukacs credits Churchill's extraordinary army of research assistants over much of a lifetime for his massive output, he fails to note that much of the work was written to order, fat contracts supporting an authorial lifestyle almost unique in his time. A chapter on Churchill and Eisenhower persuasively takes the political general down a peg or two, and the excoriation (and exposure) of the pompous Churchill-baiter John Charmley is overdue. A final chapter, personal observations on the three days in January 1965 when Lukacs went to London to observe the great man's obsequies, seems either padding or self-indulgence. Overall, though, Lukacs convincingly portrays a leader of an empire in irreversible decline and a towering, if flawed, hero of our time. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/19/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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