Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table

Cita Stelzer. Pegasus (Norton, dist.), $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60598-401-8
It’s well known that Churchill loved eating, drinking, and smoking, and that he transacted a great deal of business while doing all of the above. Therefore, it’s surprising that this is the first book focusing on this aspect of his vastly overwritten life. Stelzer, a Reader at Churchill College, Cambridge, has turned up a great deal of material on the prime minister’s legendary “zest for life,” but readers anxious to learn how he turned his occasions for repast to his political advantage will find thin pickings. Stelzer sketches the historical background, and while three chapters discuss Churchill’s preferences in food, drink, and cigars, the author concentrates on menus, seating arrangements, guest lists, toasts, bills, thank-you notes, gossipy diary excerpts, and reports from servants. The nearest Stelzer comes to attacking a historical question is an analysis of accusations that Churchill was an alcoholic, which she concludes he was not. Despite the title, this is not an account of the great man’s dinnertime political exploits but an admiring series of anecdotes on his social life that will please collectors of Churchilliana. 80 b&w illus. Agent: Georgina Capel, Capel and Land Literary Agency (U.K.). (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 08/13/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
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