A detailed examination of Winston Churchill the author.
British historian Clarke (Keynes: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the 20th Century's Most Influential Economist, 2009, etc.) has studied Churchill for decades, but the author has been bothered by a gap in the scholarship concerning the critical evaluation of the statesman’s literary interests. Churchill, born to a privileged life, began writing and publishing learned, well-written books while still in his 20s. He expected renown as an author, never anticipating that his apparently washed-up political career would be rejuvenated by World War II. Clarke is most interested in the decades-long gestation of the four-volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. The project would have been massive if Churchill had committed to no other ventures, but the difficulty expanded exponentially because he had agreed to write so many other books, partly because of his desire to attract audiences, partly because his spendthrift ways left him almost perpetually in debt. Clarke clearly admires Churchill's talent and persistence as an author, but he is candid about Churchill's periodic bouts of procrastination and outright lies to publishers about the pace of manuscript progress. As Churchill realized he would never finish all of his book projects unaided, he relied on the scholarship of others (both compensated and uncompensated). Clarke provides painstakingly researched accounts of the individuals who might have earned the status of co-author in a world less seduced by famous names. The author’s elucidation of Churchill the writer necessarily delves into biographical elements, including the influences of Churchill's glamorous, famous father and mother on the son's writings.
Original, gap-filling, engagingly presented scholarship.