Moving in a stringent chronology, the author’s impressive nuts-and-bolts account finds Churchill’s golden years crowned by...

Just when you thought there could not be another angle to this endlessly fascinating character, here’s a serious, thorough look at Winston Churchill’s lifelong struggle to pay the bills.

Writing for hire allowed Churchill to keep the bank at bay over many decades, as noted scrupulously by English financial officer Lough, who asserts that, during his long career advising families about their finances, he has “never encountered risk-taking on Churchill’s scale.” Hailing from a family of spendthrifts, especially his American-born mother, Churchill recognized early on in his political career that he would have to supplement his official government salary by writing journalism, giving lectures, buying polo ponies, and speculating in the stock market, thanks to his financial guru brother, Jack. Like his mother, Churchill patronized only the best suppliers, and he was often scrambling to pay the bills, borrowing hugely to cover amounts owed to wine, cigar, shirt, and saddle merchants. His marriage to Clementine Hozier did not greatly add to his wealth, though his elevation to First Lord of the Admiralty in 1909 allowed him use of the HMS Enchantress and a fine Admiralty House in central London. While World War I impoverished a generation of Edwardian aristocracy, transforming them into a “new class of entrepreneurs,” Churchill managed to inherit a tidy sum from a distant cousin in 1921, quickly depleted by the purchase of a country seat and the birth of his fifth child and prompting stock market speculation. (Miraculously, he was appointed chancellor of the exchequer in 1925.) The U.S. stock market crash wiped out Churchill’s “new world fortune” (for each chapter, Lough offers a contemporary exchange rate and inflation multiples) without dampening his enthusiasm for America’s “vitality…[to] help shape his wartime strategy a decade later.” Chockablock with credits, debits, taxes, and inheritances, the book is nothing if not meticulous.

Moving in a stringent chronology, the author’s impressive nuts-and-bolts account finds Churchill’s golden years crowned by selling his memoirs and film rights.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-07126-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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