Granddaughter Sandys (Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive, 2000, etc.) follows in Winston’s footsteps, giving impressions of his travels and those he met.
Churchill was chock-a-block with restless energy, notes Sandys, who herself writes with comfortable ease; baldness notwithstanding, he lived as though his hair were on fire. Whether serving as a soldier, journalist, statesman, painter, low-level colonial administrator, or a purveyor of major historical moments on the international stage, he viewed his life as one long working holiday. Change was regenerative for Churchill, as were scenes of adventure and excitement, though the author notes that he sought by his own admission “places where I could gain experience and derive advantage.” This attitude gained him position after increasingly influential position within the British government; it also meant that Churchill witnessed and/or participated in some memorable historical moments, from the last cavalry charge at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 to the first summer Maria Callas spent on Aristotle Onassis’s yacht in 1959. Sandys succeeds in giving Churchill’s travels the full treatment: not just the where and when, but how he reacted to the events at hand (often guided by his “paternalistic Victorian” nature), the style in which he traveled (let it be said that he liked his comforts), the pleasures he found in the landscape (the sunsets over Marrakech made it “the most lovely spot in the world”), his yearning to be at the sharp edge of things. The author does not attempt to make value judgments about Churchill's policies, but she does reasonably find that his effectiveness as a politician required him “personally to influence people and make things happen.” His willingness to go almost anywhere endeared him to people who would otherwise have detested his politics; the Cubans, Sandys found, continue to esteem him “as a very great man who was and still is the best advertisement for their national product.”
A brimming life told with a refined touch. (24 b&w and 8 color photos)