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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Dire Warning: Churchill's First Year as Prime Minister by John R. Lukacs

A speech, little noted at the time, becomes a powerful gift to the ages

One of Churchill's most famous phrases comes from one of his shortest speeches - his first speech as Prime Minister delivered in Parliament as German forces were literally destroying the French army. The first paragraphs are administrative, describing his assembled government.

The last paragraph is gold, pure gold.

Churchill lays out his war aims and makes it clear that it will be hard, "an ordeal of the most grievous kind." He identifies the Nazis as "a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime" and notes the policy as victory no matter the cost because "without victory, there is no survival." He bids any and all allies to come join Britain.

There, in a few powerful sentences written by Churchill himself (oh, if only that were done nowadays...), is a summary of the situation, the goals and a strategy to win.

Churchill flashing his
famed "V" for victory.
Unfortunately, it was not broadcast live and only edited snippets were broadcast over the BBC.

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Dire Warning: Churchill's First Year as Prime Minister is a short (147 pages), well-written history of the Churchill's war years. The focus, as the title implies, is his first few days as Prime Minister, but he follows through to the end of the war.

Nicely done.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed October 9, 2009.

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