THE FRINGES OF POWER by John Colville

THE FRINGES OF POWER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A firsthand look behind the scenes at Winston Churchill's 10 Downing Street in the form of a diary kept by the great man's private secretary, Sir John Colville. Colville, whose inside track has previously resulted in a biography of Lord Gort, as well as Footprints in Time and The Churchillians, has richly invested his writing with the gossipy little tidbits that diary-readers love, particularly as they relate to such matters as Churchill's meetings with De Gaulle and Churchill's temper tantrums (the two more often than not congruous). The bulk of the book, naturally, concerns Churchill's pivotal moments on the world's stage--1941-1945, but the diaries also cover Churchill's return to power in the early 1950's, as well as his later strokes. Unfortunately, the book suffers from a fault not entirely its own--that is, the absolute plethora of material already written about Churchill, not the least by Churchill himself. (Colville relates an amusing Churchillian moment when the Prime Minister, upset over an American battle strategy, resignedly said that the controversy would have to be settled by the historians, adding that, of course, he fully intended to be one of the historians.) And so he was, with his six-volume history of the war. Between Churchill's son Randolph's 30-some volume biography and such other epic works as William Manchester's The Last Lion, there isn't much room left for surprises or originality. But, on another level, this could just be the last important WW II diary. And so we plod through it, not totally unsatisfied, in search of just one more Churchillian bon mot.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1985
Publisher: Norton