cover image Churchill


Norman Rose. Free Press, $35 (516pp) ISBN 978-0-02-874009-6

Rose lays more stress on Churchill's struggles and flaws than on his successes and strengths. He presents Churchill's early career as preparation for the hour of supreme crisis when, as England's wartime prime minister, he inspired his countrymen to confront the Germans despite seemingly hopeless odds: ``No man was ever more prepared, more fitted, more willing to fulfill this historical task, one that he accomplished with consummate artistry.'' Rose recounts how Churchill became a political pariah after the 1915 Dardanelles fiasco, his career apparently ruined until David Lloyd George appointed him minister of munitions in 1917; and again, during most of the 1930s, distrusted by both major parties and thought to lack judgment and stability, he suffered political exile until he was appointed first lord of the admiralty by Neville Chamberlain after the outbreak of WWII. Rose takes a frank look at Churchill's faults-his inability to admit mistakes, his colossal ego, his profound self-centeredness-and demonstrates that these were the flaws of a great man rather than tragic flaws in the Aristotelian sense. Rose teaches history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)