Winston's War (Winston Churchill #1)by Published 01 Jan 2003
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WINSTON'S WAR is a masterful blending of imagination and compelling fact that places the reader at the right hand of the most momentous events in our history.
Saturday 1 October 1938. Two men meet. One is elderly, the other in his twenties. One will become the most revered man of his time, and the other known as the greatest of traitors.
Winston Churchill met Guy Burgess at a moment when the world was about to explode. Now in his astonishing new novel, Michael Dobbs throws brilliant fresh light upon Churchill's relationship with the Soviet spy and the twenty months of conspiracy, chance and outright treachery that were to propel Churchill from outcast to messiah and change the course of history.
Winston's War (Winston Churchill #1) Reviews
I've been on a British royalty kick lately so I thought it would be cool to read about Winston Churchill since he was QEII's first Prime Minister. This was so hard to get through. I don't know if it was because I was reading it on my nook, or because I don't really understand British politics or because I wasn't familiar with the subject matter, but it was tough. I've been reading this for well over three weeks. I actually had to stop halfway through and give my mind a break because I just COULD NOT slog through any more.
A post-modern take on history. An engaging, entertaining text which leaves the reader wondering what is fact and what fiction. Focuses on the eighteen month period from Munich to the Nazi invasion of France—mostly telling how everyone in England (including the king) were trying to do everything possible to keep Churchill from becoming Prime Minister, and Churchill was unwittingly helping them.
Today’s readers may be surprised that faction and the press were as divisive and untrue then as now. Shouldn’t be, that’s been true since the Greek city-states.
The mechanics of the story impede enjoyment. Dobbs alters past and present tenses. His awkward, idiosyncratic paragraphing often leaves the reader wondering who is talking.
Except that many of the named characters were historical, one could complain about the confusing array of Burgess, Bracken, Beaverbrook, Ball and Boothbys; not to mention Mac, Max and Macmillian.
The Gathering Storm meets Downton Abbey.
A good read.
I had my doubts about this book but was very glad that I stuck it through to the end. There is a cast of characters that's hard to track who appear seemingly at random. While it took some time to sort them out, it was one of the pleasures of sticking with the book as their role in the story all came to light as the end neared. This writer gives flesh to the beginning of England's involvement in World War II and to the characters involved in England's slow move towards war. Chamberlain reads like a reluctant warrior who's trying everything he can to keep England out of the war. Churchill reads like somsone trying to show both himself and his nay sayers that he's not an old washed warrior who can't lead his country out of a paper bag. We all know the end of the story, that Churchill is Prime Minister and England joins the war well in advance of being taken over by the German machine. What we don't know is the subterfuge that took place leading up to those changes. This book is a work of fiction and a pretty darned good one at that. Actually, 3.5 stars is a better rating but that's only allowed in the averages so I'll stick with my 3.
This is a spectacular historical novel. Anyone who has read or seen the British version of "House of Cards" will recognize a similarly fast-paced interaction of multiple plots, with important people doing important things and little people feeling the impact of those momentous events on their more plebeian lives.
Dobbs' control of this material is superb, reflecting his own experience in the Halls of Parliament over several decades. He must also have known some of those not-so-famous since many of the most poignant scenes involve people who are either fictional or so minor that history has not had much to say about them. But Churchill knew them, and about them, and he knew they were the reason Britain needed to survive,
Of course, the ultimate message is 'Thank God Winston got to be PM' no matter what dirty tricks were used to accomplish that result. The world would have been a horrid place but for his almost singular ability to resist Hitler long enough to get FDR into the fight.
"You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment..." Francis Urquhart's memorable quote from "House of Cards" was particularly useful in public relations career. Thank you, Michael Dobbs. And, thank you for "Winston's War," another look at British political infighting.
"Winston's War" has little enough to do with World War II, per se. It is all about the run-up to, and earliest days of the war, when Churchill's primary battle was with Neville Chamberlain and his Tory minions about appeasement, war preparedness, and political power. This is historical fiction, and so doesn't pretend to know exactly what was said to who by whom. And Dobbs creates British everyman and everywoman as embodiments of British character: Ian and Dickie, the Statler and Waldorf (for Muppet fans) of parliament; Jerry and Sue, the starcrossed lovers on the eve of war; Carol and Mac, the hooker and the Jewish refugee from a Russian gulag. But there are searing portraits of historical figures: Churchill himself, suffering the black dog of depression and generational competitiveness of his ancestors; Chamberlain, intent on clinging to power while deluding himself, his party, and the nation that he has brought peace - if not to Poland and Czechoslovakia - than at least to Britain; publisher Max Beaverbrook, supporting whichever politician can improve his political and financial ambitions; the craven, common, and crude U.S. Ambassador Joe Kennedy and his duplicitous niece Anna; Churchill's allies Boothby and Bracken; and Soviet mole Guy Burgess, a tortured soul attempting to meld his flamboyant homosexuality, anti-fascism, alcoholism, and journalistic talents as a means of propelling Churchill into 10 Downing St.
I thought that Burgess' character was a bit overly dramatic, but that's the only drawback in this fine political novel.