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Churchill: A Life, Part 1

ISBN: 978-0805023961
Review Date:

Having heard much about Martin Gilbert's biography Churchill: A Life, I jumped on the chance to pick up its audiobook edition when I finally saw it, albeit only the first part, on my local library's shelves. This particular part, read by Christian Rodska, covered Winston Churchill's life until the end of WW1. From the very first chapter, every sentence reflected that Churchill had been the author's lifelong subject of research. While being a fan of William Manchester and his three volume The Last Lion biography of Churchill, Manchester's literary style exceeds that of Gilbert's. That said, however, Gilbert's attentiveness to detail put this work on par with Manchester's, even in my biased opinion. Gilbert did not even fail to provide a picture of Churchill as a young student, during which time his thirst for knowledge and defiance against convention began to show.

Many Churchill historians noted that we must understand Churchill's life and life experiences in order to understand his forceful personality and the many world-changing decisions he had made in his life. Even though I had only checked out the first part of Gilbert's Churchill: A Life, I could already say that this title would be one of those that held most valuable insights into Churchill. I would certainly be on the lookout for the remaining parts should the library decide to complete the collection.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Christian Belena says:
2 Feb 2018 10:26:16 AM

I am an Archivist with the US National Archives and Records Administration working exclusively with the records of WW2. I had wanted a biography of Churchill and was recommended to read Gilbert's "A Life." While the book is considered authoritative, I found it a very difficult read: first, there are not endnotes or footnotes. Not being a master in 19th and Early 20th-century British military history, I found myself spending more time doing research to understand what I was reading, than actually reading Gilbert's book. Second, and most important, the book contains absolutely no bibliography or citations. This is a no-no for any historical writing. Being able to read the references, primary and secondary, or locating and using Gilbert's sources are impossible. I cannot take this book as 100% fact based upon Gilbert's sources because there aren't any.

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