An affectionate study by a respected Churchill scholar.



An engaging alphabetical encyclopedia of the animals Winston Churchill loved (and hunted) and used as imagery and metaphors in his fiery prose.

It takes a devoted scholar of Churchill to be able to convey with fluent familiarity such details in the British leader’s life and extensive body of writing. British author Brendon (Eminent Elizabethans: Rupert Murdoch, Margaret Thatcher, Prince Charles & Mick Jagger, 2013, etc.)—fellow of Churchill College and of the Royal Society of Literature and the former keeper of the Churchill Archives Centre—certainly fits the bill, and he offers an unquestionably unique look at the former prime minister. As the son of an aristocrat (his American mother’s family was also wealthy) born at the splendid palace of Blenheim, Churchill was raised to revere hunting as the apotheosis of Victorian male valor and virility; at the same time, he was taught that “kindness to animals was the mark and the duty of civilization” (despite his carnivorous diet). The “inconsistencies” in Churchill’s “wit, wisdom, and wayward genius” abound, and Brendon knocks against them throughout the book. The “bestiary” starts with “albatross”—the well-read Churchill used the Ancient Mariner’s anguished response “I shot the Albatross” while expressing his frustration with Parliament’s wrangling about Indian independence—and ends with “zoos,” since one of his favorite activities was visiting them. Many of the animals in his metaphorical repertory came from the countryside, which he knew intimately as a boy. These include badgers, birds, hares, and foxes, animals he loved as a “humane sentimentalist” but also hunted for sport. Regarding lions, writes the author, “no twentieth-century leader has been more lionized or has attracted more leonine imagery than Churchill.” Dogs and horses were his favorites, but Brendon’s most touching portrait shows Churchill feeding his beloved “golden horde” of goldfish at Chartwell as a distraction from the overbearing worries of the 1940s.

An affectionate study by a respected Churchill scholar.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64313-136-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?