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  • Published: 19 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781473566378
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 640

Churchill's Shadow

An Astonishing Life and a Dangerous Legacy




A critical but fair political biography that tells the story of the life and the equally fascinating one of his legacy. This is Churchill for those who believe that the country has lost its way and who try to understand why - and Churchill and his legacy have a lot to answer for.

'Provocative, clear-sighted, richly textured and wonderfully readable, this is the indispensable biography of Churchill for the post-Brexit 2020s' DAVID KYNASTON

'Stimulating, erudite and above all entertaining' ROBERT HARRIS

In A.J.P. Taylor's words, Churchill was 'the saviour of his country' when he became prime minister in 1940. Yet he was also a deeply flawed character, whose personal ambition would cloud his political judgement. While Churchill's Shadow gives due credit to the achievements, it also reveals some spectacular failures; indeed, it appears that for every Finest Hour there were many more Gallipolis.

But this book goes beyond the reappraisal of a life and a career: it reveals that Churchill has cast a complex shadow over post-war British history and contemporary politics - from the 'Churchillian stance' of Tony Blair taking the country to war in Iraq to the delusion of a special relationship with the United States to the fateful belief in British exceptionalism: that the nation can once again stand alone in Europe.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft takes a radically different approach to other biographies and studies of Churchill, zooming in on crucial moments in his life that help us understand the man in his many contradictions. Churchill's Shadow both tells the story of his extraordinary life and the equally fascinating one of his legacy, focusing on how Churchill was viewed by contemporaries and those who came after.

As we struggle to work out who we are as a nation, how our complex legacies of war and empire shape our past and our present, we do that in the long shadow of Churchill. He set about writing his own myth during his lifetime and it is a myth - with all the delusions and hangovers myths bring - in whose grip we have been living in ever since.

  • Published: 19 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781473566378
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 640

About the author

Geoffrey Wheatcroft

Geoffrey Wheatcroft contributes regularly to a variety of newspapers and journals including the Guardian, the Spectator, the TLS, The New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly. He is the author of several books, including The Randlords, The Controversy of Zion, The Strange Death of Tory England, Le Tour and Yo, Blair!

Praise for Churchill's Shadow

Stimulating, erudite and above all entertaining, Churchill's Shadow refreshes the soul like a good stiff drink at the end of a long hard day. For any reader tired of the seemingly endless round of Churchill-worship of the last few years, Geoffrey Wheatcroft provides a lively corrective

Robert Harris

A clear-eyed, incisive and superbly balanced account of Churchill, the man and the myth. Wheatcroft shows how a deeply flawed character, with outdated views on empire and race even by the standards of his own time but a 'Rossini of rhetoric', caught a wave of history in 1940 and became the darling of the British and American Right. Much to think about in the twenty-first century

Robert Gildea, author of Empires of the Mind

Provocative, clear-sighted, richly textured and wonderfully readable, this is the indispensable biography of Churchill for the post-Brexit 2020s: of unmissable and sometimes uncomfortable relevance to both British exceptionalists and those who fail to understand the seductive allure of that exceptionalism

David Kynaston

Hagiographers beware; Wheatcroft has skewered the cult of Churchill hero worship. This book reminds us that while Churchill was Britain's saviour in 1940, his views on race and empire, and his military debacles from the Dardanelles to Dieppe, make it unwise to revere him like a saint

Samir Puri, author of The Great Imperial Hangover

Even readers sick of Churchill will find much to enjoy, partly because Wheatcroft is such a fluent and entertaining writer, but also because he has so many interesting and provocative things to say

Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

Wheatcroft takes the now widely held ... view of Churchill, which is that he was reckless and racist, a "stormy petrel" in Wheatcroft's neat phrase, [and] laments the way that misinformed "Churchillism" has taken hold

Quentin Letts, The Times

[A] fascinating book... Churchill's Shadow is a wonderful revisioning of the sacred monster which, curiously, leaves you more in sympathy with him, because it never tries to gloss over his enormous faults, while giving full play to his amazing qualities.

Ferdinand Mount, Oldie

Wheatcroft declares modestly that he hasn't written a full biography... [but this] book is still the best place to start. That's not just because Wheatcroft tells you all you need to know about Churchill's life. It's because he tells you...[what] you need to know about his afterlife

Christopher Bray, Tablet

Wheatcroft is a skilled prosecutor with a rapier pen ... [Churchill's Shadow] could be the best single-volume indictment of Churchill yet written

New York Times

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