CHURCHILL AS HISTORIAN by Maurice Ashley

CHURCHILL AS HISTORIAN

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This is a sympathetic study of the Churchillian oeuvres by a historian who received his journeyman training as Churchill's research assistant for Marlborough. In an introductory memoir which is the most fascinating part of the book, Ashley tells of those early days in the master's atelier -- Chartwell Manor, occasionally Blenheim Place -- when Churchill graciously treated him ""almost as an equal."" In the book-by-book explication, Ashley points out specific strengths and weaknesses (The Unknown War romanticizes the Russians) but in so doing tends to give Churchill the benefit of the doubt (Marlborough ""exaggerates a good case"" but only because it is an ""understandable effort to provide the completest apologia""). Ashley distinguishes between the earlier books which were written as ""a pleasant method of making money"" and the later ones, in which Churchill often is chief actor, which were ""a means of self-justification."" Here Churchill is exempted from charges of amateurism and slapdash methodology by his employment of professional assistants, whose research he complemented with insights derived from his military and political experience. Informal historiography, overly generous but quite serviceable.

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 1969
Publisher: Scribners