While waiting for youngsters to ring our doorbell on Halloween night I watched an interview with Andrew Roberts that had been saved on the DVR from months past. In minutes I had stopped the playback, made sure no kids were on the sidewalk coming to the front door and bounded to the office computer to order a book from Amazon.
I had never before heard about the quite wretched treatment a young Winston Churchill had experienced from his parents. The abuse was not physical but rather emotional and deeply felt by a boy who was simply cast-off to fancy schools and left apart from maternal tenderness or love of a father. Years later when as a man, and a son of his own, and after a long evening with that child, Winston will say that in just a few hours they had conversed longer than his own dad had ever done with him in his whole life. It was a most striking comment to make. A comment that adds layers of complexity to the life of Churchill.
I love to read, and love to read history more than any other genre. (But Russian espionage novels also rank high.) As I waited for the kids to arrive I was struck that the topic deeply explored by Andrew Roberts in Churchill Walking With Destiny is one that in over 40 years of reading I had never dived into. While Churchill was a part of many books I have much enjoyed (Doris Kearns Goodwin’s writing on FDR) there had been no single volume solely about Churchill which had landed in my hands.
Friday’s mail changed that as a new copy of Roberts’ work arrived. The nice thing about Amazon–if not having overnight delivery–is never knowing for sure when a package might arrive. It is, therefore, a bit of a surprise after a period of anticipation when a large package is left in the mailbox. And after hearing Roberts explain in the interview how he was able to have the first access to King George VI’s diary, which detailed weekly luncheons with Churchill, there was indeed anticipation for the book. I might add that this is the only book in my reading recollection where the Queen of England is thanked in the acknowledgments portion for her aid in writing a book.
So the tome has been started here on the isthmus. Pages are filled with tidbits and facts all woven together in writing that seems effortless, and therein lies the skill of the author. The first time Churchill dialed a phone number for himself was at 73 years of age so to find out the time from the speaking clock.
And so it goes.