Churchill, Winston. The Second World War The Gathering Storm. Houghton Mifflin, 1948. NF;7/18.
“For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all Parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history.”
So it must’ve been with great irony that Churchill set out, as soon as the war started, getting ready to tell everyone how he won it. We understand that when he made the above famous statement, Churchill wasn’t just talking about a series of books that would capture for him the 1954 Nobel Prize in literature, he was telling the world he intended to win the war. This is the first of six volumes, and I’m the first to admit that I got about halfway through it before deciding to move on to something else. It’s dated, tedious, and egotistical but fabulously detailed, and wonderful to behold because even through his self-congratulation we understand that if anyone ever did, Churchill deserved to create a monument to himself.
I’ve said before I’m no history academic and I read what I did of this book having just finished Michael Korda’s Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory, and With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain. I remember Hero of the Empire and how ambivalent I was about the young Winston Churchill after reading it. In The Gathering Storm Churchill gives his opinion about Baldwin, Chamberlain, von Ribbentrop, Hitler, and a dozen other historical giants of the 30s and 40s candidly but he leaves no doubt that nobody understood what was about to happen or was in a position to take control but him.
Tackle this or any of the other famous fat Churchill war volumes at your peril if you get interested in the war or in Winston Churchill. I suspect there are many hundreds of better-written, just as interesting, and honestly a hell of a lot easier books about those subjects but sadly I can’t tell you what they are. 9.0/7.0 for me.