WINSTON CHURCHILL AND HIS INNER CIRCLE by John Colville

WINSTON CHURCHILL AND HIS INNER CIRCLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mildly interesting, mildly entertaining impressions of Churchill intimates, and his relations with them, by his one-time private secretary. Colville has an easy, conversational manner; no evident desire to shock or to shield; and, given Churchill's distaste for bores, some high-voltage personalities to write about: Beaverbrook, Lindemann, Bracken; Roosevelt and Eisenhower; de Gaulle. But we seldom fail to hear, characteristically, whether or not Clementine Churchill approved of a particular individual: this is still a backstairs view, however elevated. Also, while Colville saw much of Churchill's British familiars, his lengthy accounts of Churchill and divers Americans, of Churchill and de Gaulle, merely present the well-known Churchillian side of wartime and postwar relations--with Colville, a proponent of the Munich settlement, outdoing Churchill in, for instance, wishing that MacArthur, not Eisenhower, had been in command in Europe (then there would have been no holding back from Berlin, etc.). He takes a particular, Churchill-related stand, however, on only one matter: ""a great deal of melodramatic misinformation has been offered to the gullible public and has been believed,"" re Churchill's interest in espionage. He never spoke of Sir William Stephenson (A Man Called Intrepid), says Colville, and probably never met him; it's not true that Stephenson ""provided a secret liaison"" between Churchill and Roosevelt. And Churchill didn't deliberately sacrifice Coventry--per The Ultra Secret. Otherwise, Colville writes appreciatively of Clementine Churchill's tempering influence, sympathetically of Montgomery's quirks, disapprovingly of physician Lord Moran's diaries, honestly of Churchill's weakness for living well--with such as Onassis. Few dull stretches, then--but much of the book requires an Anglophiliac frame of reference, and all of it will appeal only to inveterate Churchill-watchers.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1981
Publisher: Wyndham/Simon & Schuster