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|A stirring war leader, an orator unequaled as the rallier of a nation under siege, a powerful writer - Winston Churchill was all these and more. By now he has become a figure of almost mythic proportions. To find the man within the legend is the task to which twenty-nine renowned British and American historians and political leaders dedicate themselves in this volume. It may be the last assessment possible of Churchill's life and career by those who, for the most part, came of age during the Churchill era. From his youth in the landed aristocracy through his early experiences of war to service in Parliament over seven storm-tossed decades, Churchill takes us far beyond the surface of events. Here is Winston Churchill, surprisingly, a founder of the modern welfare state, when he became a principal driving force behind the Liberal welfare reforms of 1908-11. In the 1920s, we find him astonished to be offered the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer (after accepting, he reflected that "I should have...answered, 'Will the bloody duck swim?'"). His concern with domestic affairs bracketed the years of the First World War which saw him, initially, as First Lord of the Admiralty. Churchill tasted failure in the disastrous defeat of the Dardanelles expedition in 1915. There followed two years "in the wilderness" during which he took a battalion command on the western front. "He hankered after brilliant coups, heroic adventure on a small but decisive scale" but he had learned a crucial lesson for his later years as war leader of Britain: "against an adversary as formidable as the Germans, there was no substitute for the massive organization and skillful application of force on the largestpossible scale, backed up by...science and technology...". Appointed Colonial Secretary, Churchill had to deal with some regions that were to remain trouble spots to the century's end: Palestine and Southern Africa among them. A staunch defender of the Empire, he believed that British rule would bring benefits and harmony to distant populations. Still, Churchill's finest hours were to come when, with the German army marching across the Low Countries into France, he succeeded to the Prime Ministership. The events of that crucial time are closely examined. "There was only one person I could send for to form a Government who had the confidence of his country", wrote King George VI, "and that was Winston". In fascinating detail, Churchill's conduct of the war is viewed from both diplomatic and military angles - with revealing light shed on his relationships with Roosevelt and Stalin, his handling of special intelligence, the "ceaseless" prodding "of the generals, admirals and air marshal is who were prosecuting the war whether as Defence chiefs or in the arenas of combat". The volume carries us through the postwar period and the realignment of Europe to face a formidable power to the Eastthe Soviet Union. We discover a Churchill resigned to letting the ties of Empire lessen even as, at home, a triumphant Labour party greatly alters Britain's economic and social structure. Under the scrutiny of experts, Churchill emerges very much the dominant figure of his time. His stature, as attested by the contributors to this volume, does not change; the features, however, become more finely chiseled.|