The Personal Letters of the Churchills
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In a moving commemoration of the 125th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s birth, Soames, his last surviving child (Family Album, 1982; Clementine Churchill, 1979), presents a large selection of the intimate letters of Churchill and his wife, Clementine, from 1909 to 1964. Soames presents the letters both chronologically and topically, starting with the courtship and marriage of the Churchills in 1909 and swiftly moving into Churchill’s long career in Parliament and the government. Fortunately for Clementine, she reveals herself to be keenly interested in politics, which consumed her husband’s life and occasioned so many separations between them. The early letters show the Churchills” spontaneous reactions to the commencement of the First World War; the tragic Battle of Gallipoli (1915—16), for which Churchill bore responsibility and which ended his early career in the Cabinet; his life in France as a military officer; the Peace Conference at Versailles; and the Republican crisis in Ireland, during which Churchill was an IRA assassination target and negotiated with the Republican forces. Later letters record his reaction to his long exile from office, his travels abroad, the deepening political crisis in Europe, and his reentry into government with the commencement of WWII. A large number of letters date from the WWII period, as Churchill’s leadership of the government necessitated prolonged absences from Clementine. While he lost his position as prime minister immediately after the war, he regained it briefly in the 1950s. While full of references to the world of public affairs, and the acts and personalities of great men, the letters also contain ample references to domestic matters and discuss the Churchills” five children, their friends and relations, and family events. The long dialogue finally ends with Clementine’s noting of Parliament’s vote of thanks to Churchill in 1964. A uniquely intimate contribution to Churchilliana and an engrossing record of a remarkable marriage. (133 b&w photos; 6 maps) (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 30th, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-96319-2
Page count: 768pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1999


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