The times in Churchill's case were both World War I, in which he served as a battalion commander, and World War II, which he helped win for
No one else can touch Churchill for his vision, leadership and most of all persistence. Like Babe Ruth who struck out a lot, but who also hit many home runs, Churchill "struck out" more than once, but his successes far outweigh and overwhelm his failures.
Churchill had a way with words that conveyed great truths and necessarily stirred the hearts of his countrymen. Probably his best-known words were uttered after the RAF defended
In 1942, following the Allied victory near the Egyptian coastal city of El Alamein, which marked a turning point in the Western desert campaign, Churchill said: "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
Churchill wrote, spoke and did things that endure. What modern politician can match his clarity of thought, writings and voracious reading? His 1946 "Iron Curtain" speech at
Of the man,
Churchill, notes Johnson, "produces more published works than Shakespeare and Dickens combined, wins the Nobel Prize for literature, kills umpteen people in armed conflict on four continents, serves in every great office of state, including prime minister (twice), is indispensible to victory in two world wars and then posthumously sells his paintings for a million dollars."
Churchill had a far less than ideal upbringing. His father, Randolph, mostly rejected him and gave him, not love, but criticism; his mother pushed him but was often preoccupied with a series of men not her husband; he was small and often the object of bullying, but he overcame it all through the force of his ego, strong will and persistence ("Never give in, never give in, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
I recall the TV coverage of his 1965 state funeral. Thousands lined London streets. Dockworkers lowered their cranes in tribute as his body was borne down the River Thames on a barge.
Churchill was more than a leader for his time. He was a man for all time; a man for all seasons, as
Johnson concludes his book: "There has been no one remotely like him before or since." The world is the worse for it.