We continue our preview of the new (Spring) issue of the Claremont Review of Books with Andrew Roberts’s review of a clutch of new books on, or bearing on, Winston Churchill. Roberts’s review is titled “Winston is back!” Subhead: “Churchill was filled to the brim with a love of life.”
The heading of Roberts’s review is the message signalled to the fleet upon Churchill’s return to the Admiralty in 1939. Roberts quotes it in caps at page 460 of his one-volume biography of Churchill and takes it as the title of chapter 19.
Roberts is one of of our preeminent living historians and Churchill scholars. His review is authoritative, moving, inspirational, stylish, biting, learned. And funny. This made me laugh: “We are all familiar with the concept of intellectuals who are so clever that they say stupid things, and also of pseudo-intellectuals who want to be thought of as clever: The Churchill Myths is an offering from that school of authorship. I’m sure its attacks [on Roberts’s biography] would have left me depressed, had the book not landed on my desk on the very same morning that I learnt from my publishers that my book had sold its half-millionth copy.”
Roberts concludes his review with this incredibly timely quote from the great man’s St. George’s Day speech of 1933:
The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within…. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength. But what have they to offer but a vague internationalism, a squalid materialism, and the promise of impossible utopias?
I chose Roberts’s review to preview for the sheer pleasure of the thing. If you have any interest in the man of the twentieth century, I think you will enjoy Roberts’s review, as I did.