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Churchill Warrior: How a Military Life Guided Winston's Finest Hours, by Brian Lavery

Philadelphia: Casemate, 2017. Pp. xiv, 570. Illus., maps, notes, bibio., index. $32.95. ISBN: 1910860220.

Educating Churchill

Lavery is an well known naval historian, the author of such works as We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches, Royal Tars: The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy, 875-1850, In Which They Served, and other notable works, has often written about Churchill, such as his Churchill Goes to War, on the Prime Minister's extensive wartime travels. In Churchill Warrior, Lavery, observing that Churchillís biographers have generally neglected what might be called the manís ďmilitary educationĒ, examines at how the man acquired his skills at strategy, administration, logistics, and the overall conduct of war.

As is well known, Churchill was a graduate of Sandhurst, and saw extensive combat service in colonial conflicts in Cuba, India, the Sudan, and South Africa, as well as serving for several months in the trenches during the Great War as a battalion commander. Churchill also read deeply in military history and conducted extensive research for his books on various wars and for his multi-volume life and campaigns of his ancestor the Duke of Marlborough. All of this provided a good military education for him.

But Lavery goes further, pointing out that Churchillís civilian government experiences strengthened his understanding not only of military operations and strategy, but also of logistics. Although famed as an outstanding First Lord of the Admiralty (1911-1915, 1939-1940), Churchill also served Minister of Munitions (1917-1919), was simultaneously Secretary of State for War and for Air (1919-1921), Chancellor of the Exchequer (1924-1929), and in other ministerial posts, all of which added to his understanding of how wars are fought.

Lavery, by no means ignores Churchillís errors, treats them within the framework of the manĎs perception of events as they unfolded. Overall, he makes a good case that Churchillís background made him man uniquely qualified for the post of Britainís war leader, certainly more so than any other national leader during the Second World War.

Churchill Warrior is an excellent book for anyone interested the Second World War, and in the problem of leadership in wartime.

 

Note: Churchill Warrior is also available in several e-editions.

 

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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