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In the largest sense Lewin does little to alter the standard view of Churchill as military leader, although inevitably there are controversial interpretations of Winnie vis-a-vis other principals (Ike, Monty, Lord Cherwell, Liddell-Hart, FDR, Stalin) and specific events. For instance Lewin acknowledges that THUNDERCLAP was Dresden's ""death-certificate"" but he tends to exonerate Churchill with the questionable logic that his ""expressed wishes. . .were general rather than specific, and it cannot be maintained that it was he who selected Dresden for annihilation."" This is the sort of unprovable assertion which seems to excite War World II buffs -- certainly it has fueled what might be called the Battle of the Memoirists for more than two decades now. But Lewin's essential point -- he's like a dog with a bone with it -- is that Churchill, for all his ""disqualifications"" as a warlord, succeeded; that despite his ""egomania,"" his ""blind spots"" (""There were times when he truly seemed to be thinking of the tank as a horse""), his ""self-generated delusions,"" his romanticism, his inability or disinclination to comprehend the power of technology -- in spite of all this, ""At the centre of decision he remained cool, clear-headed and realistic. He might yield under pressure, but he never broke."" Even the most adamant Churchill detractors would not or could not gainsay this judgment of the man who could only offer his people ""blood, toil, tears, and sweat"" and by dint of what one American historian has called his ""antique courage"" led them to a triumph as doughty as that V-for-Victory sign.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1973
Publisher: Stein & Day