- Hardcover: 3008 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Box edition (November 20, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316227781
- ISBN-13: 978-0316227780
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 6.5 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Last Lion Box Set: Winston Spencer Churchill, 1874 - 1965 Hardcover – November 20, 2012
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Praise for THE LAST LION, volumes 1 & 2:
"Manchester has read further, thought harder, and told with considerable verve what is mesmerizing in its drama...One cannot do better than this book."―The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Manchester has such control over a huge and moving narrative, such illumination of character...That he can claim the considerable achievement of having assembled enough powerful evidence to support Isaiah Berlin's judgment of Churchill as 'the largest human being of our time.'"―Alistair Cooke, The New Yorker
About the Author
Paul Reid is an award-winning journalist. In late 2003 his friend, William Manchester, in failing health, asked Paul to complete The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm. He lives in North Carolina. William Manchester was a hugely successful popular historian and biographer whose books include The Last Lion, Volumes 1 and 2, Goodbye Darkness, A World Lit Only by Fire, The Glory and the Dream, The Arms of Krupp, American Caesar, The Death of the President, and assorted works of journalism.
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Top Customer Reviews
Any person interested in Churchill should read this series. Paul Reid did an excellent job with Volume III and I believe that William Manchester would be very proud of Mr. Reid's effort.
I would recommend that readers that have not before read anything by William R. Manchester that you consider reading "Goodbye Darkness" first, then maybe (time permitting and your schedule) "American Caesar: The Life of General Douglas MacArthur - 1880 to 1964". Reading these other books will give you a great introduction to William Manchester's writing style; we lost a legend when he passed away.
This box set is easier for me to read than the paper back as the type is larger.
I am just getting my teeth into volume 2.
For each period i expected some let down. What could possibly match the great war (WW1)?
No let down. Fascinating stuff all the way and beautifully written.
This as advertised is not history but biography. For example the entry of the US in WW1, which many feel was decisive, is barely mentioned.
Park in England who broke the German Enigma code. We knew what the German's would do before every battle and it still took us four more years to win.
On that day, Britain's government, led by Neville Chamberlain, fell, and a man emerged from eight years in the political "wilderness" to take the reins of political power...
That man: Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill.
Sir Winston S. Churchill has been the subject of several fine biographies in recent years. "Winston S. Churchill," by Sir Martin Gilbert, is the seven-volume "official" biography of Britain's greatest statesman; "Churchill: A Life," also by Gilbert, is an outstanding one-volume Churchill biography. Other excellent biographies have been penned by Max Hastings, Roy Jenkins, and Carlo D'Este. The best Churchill biography, however, is arguably the three-volume "The Last Lion," by the late American historian William Manchester (1922-2004).
"The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932," published in 1983, is the first volume of Manchester's three-volume biography covering the long life and political career of Winston S. Churchill. The second volume, "The Last Lion: Alone, 1932-1940," in which Manchester tells the story of Churchill's eight years in the political "wilderness," appeared in 1988. And the final volume - "The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965," co-authored by Manchester and Paul Reid, hit the bookshelves in November 2012.
VISIONS OF GLORY, 1874-1932 (Volume I)
"The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932" is a superbly crafted and highly readable account of Winston S. Churchill's first 58 years, from his earliest days as the neglected first child of Lord Randolph Churchill and his American-born wife, Jennie, to his entry into the political "wilderness" over Indian Home Rule in 1932.
Manchester's portrait of Churchill is always balanced and objective. Winston Churchill was the troubled and troublesome first son of the promiscuous and socially ambitious Jennie Churchill, and her husband, the terminally ill Lord Randolph Churchill. Young Winston constantly craved his parents' affection and attention, but was usually shunted off to boarding school by parents who saw him as a burden on their social lives.
As a young adult, Churchill embarked on a military career as an army officer. He was courageous almost to the point of foolhardiness. In 1900, he was first elected to the House of Commons, where he remained for over a half-century. He switched political parties twice - once from Conservative to Liberal, and then later on, he switched back again. In his early political career, he became one of the youngest Cabinet ministers in British history, thanks in part to his natural political instincts. As a Cabinet Minister, Churchill ensured the enactment of some of the most progressive legislation in British history. But he also exercised appalling political judgment at times; he was quick to meddle in other ministers' affairs while neglecting his own, and possessed an uncanny ability to alienate not only his political foes, but his political allies as well.
The first volume of this magnificent biography ends with Churchill "entering the political wilderness" (being exiled to the "back benches" of the House of Commons) for his unpopular stand on Indian Home Rule, and for his chronic habit of irritating nearly everyone with whom he came in contact. By 1932, the verdict was in: when Russian dictator Josef Stalin inquired about Churchill, a noted British wag laughed scornfully, then sniffed: "Churchill? Oh, he's finished!"
ALONE, 1932-1940 (Volume II)
"The Last Lion: Alone, 1932-1940" is the second volume of William Manchester's brilliant biography of Winston Churchill. It is the shortest of the three volumes, and probably the best. This magnificent sequel seamlessly picks up where the first volume ends and carries Churchill's story forward through what Manchester sees as the most critical years of his life: the eight-years that encompassed Churchill's longest period in the political "wilderness," and ended with his rise to power as Prime Minister of Great Britain on May 10, 1940.
In "The Last Lion: Alone, 1932-1940," Manchester contends that the two decades between World War Iand World War II , and not his years as wartime Prime Minister (1940-1945), were, in fact, Winston S. Churchill's personal "finest hour." During this critical period, while Churchill was in the "political wilderness," sitting forlornly on the back benches of the House of Commons, he was one of only a handful of British politicians who foresaw the dangers posed by the Fascist dictators. He had the necessary expertise to speak out effectively in favor of increased military preparedness as a means of countering the growing Nazi threat in Europe, and the courage to decry his own government's appeasement policies. Despite Hitler's takeover of the Rhineland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia during the 1930s, successive British governments continued to ignore Churchill and appease Germany. Only after Hitler ignited World War II by invading Poland, and it became obvious that all attempts to placate the Nazi dictator had failed, did the British people turn to Winston Churchill to lead them.
DEFENDER OF THE REALM, 1940-1965 (Vol. III)
William Manchester had begun researching the third volume of his "The Last Lion" triptych even before the publication of "The Last Lion: Alone, 1932-1940." By 1998, he had apparently completed only a small portion of the manuscript for his final volume, which he had tentatively entitled "The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm 1940-1965." He had become aware of the fact that he could no longer write due increasingly poor health, and so he asked Paul Reid, a close friend and an excellent writer, to complete the book. Manchester died in 2004, leaving a reluctant Reid to carry on his work.
The results of Reid's efforts are simply outstanding. Relying on Manchester's copious notes and partially completed manuscript, as well as his own scholarly research, Reid crafted a monumental, highly readable, and historically accurate 1,182-page volume that recounts the final 25 years of Churchill's life. "Defender of the Realm" correctly concentrates on Churchill's time as Britain's Prime Minister during World War II, when he demonstrated all his greatest personality traits - courage, dogged determination, tenacity, and persuasiveness - in leading his nation, especially while it was under attack by the Nazis. Manchester and Reid also recount Churchill's relationship with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, contending that, while their relationship was initially close, it became less so as the war dragged on, American forces took a more prominent role in achieving victory, and Roosevelt saw less need for Churchill as a wartime partner. The authors also recount Churchill's later life: his defeat as Prime Minister in 1945; his re-election in 1950; his retirement; his declining health; and his death in 1965, at age 90.
I thoroughly enjoyed "The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965." When I first began reading it shortly after its publication, I did so with a bit of trepidation. How would Reid's research, writing style, and historical accuracy measure up against the great William Manchester? I needn't have worried. I found it difficult to detect where Manchester leaves off and Reid begins. Overall, I think Reid's prose is a bit more wordy than Manchester's, and perhaps not as lively. But the book's historical accuracy is based on sound, thoroughly documented research, and is beyond scrutiny.
I own "The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932," " The Last Lion: Alone, 1932-1940," and "The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965. " All three volumes clearly demonstrate why William Manchester was one of the pre-eminent historians and biographers of his day, and also why Paul Reid was absolutely the best choice to complete Manchester's work. These volumes are written with obviously meticulous scholarship, insightful analysis, and crisp, sparkling prose; there is no better account of Churchill's life anywhere in print. Most highly recommended.