Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom

Thomas E. Ricks. Penguin Press, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-59420-613-9
Winston Churchill, the great WWII British prime minister, and George Orwell, celebrated author of 1984 and Animal Farm, never met. There’s no evidence that Churchill ever read a word by Orwell, and the latter never held public office. But they admired each other from afar and worked for the same purpose: to save the world from totalitarianism. Ricks (The Gamble), two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, brings the two men together in a book whose model is assumed to be Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, side-by-side sketches of people whose existence never overlapped. In vivid prose, Ricks entwines the biographies of two figures who fought in strikingly different ways to achieve similar goals. What is new in this portrayal is their juxtaposition between a single book’s covers, though it’s unclear on what grounds Ricks chooses to do so. Other politicians roused their people; other writers warned of the Nazi and Soviet menaces. However, even if Ricks isn’t convincing in his pairing of the two men, he superbly illustrates that Churchill and Orwell made enduring cases for the necessity of moral and political fortitude in the face of authoritarianism. This is a bracing work for our times. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/13/2017
Release date: 05/23/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-7664-0
Hardcover - 978-1-4328-4117-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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