Jan/Feb 2003 Book Reviews

Churchill: Visionary. Statesman. Historian.

John Lukacs
Scribe Publications 202 pages
ISBN: 0 908011 82 2

reviewed by David Skea

John Lukacs has devoted his life to the study of Winston Churchill and the events before, during and after the 1939-45 world war, and in this little book he briefly reviews Churchillís vision, statesmanship and his ability as a historian. There are also chapters on Churchillís failures and his critics, two recent biographies, as well as a "perhaps unduly sentimental account" of his funeral. These additional topics take up one third of the book. Parts of the book are rewrites of articles published in the American press in 1985, 1991, 1993 and 1994, as well as in London in 2001.

So, can you really get a fully considered picture of Churchill as a visionary in 18 pages, his ability as a historian in 27, or his statesmanship in 81 (and here he covers Churchillís relationships with Stalin, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Europe and appeasement)? I think not.

Anyone whose knowledge of Churchillís political life is hazy would do better to first read one of the biographies mentioned by Lukacs: Churchill by Roy Jenkins or Churchill: A Study in Greatness by Geoffrey Best. This will give them the background necessary to properly comprehend Lukacs' book.


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