Monday, March 29, 2010

Winston Churchill - John Perry

Published by Thomas Nelson, Winston Churchill is a bio of the great statesman.
I started out critizing this book for it's many editorial errors but ended up finding it a good read. I still find the lack of good editing disturbing as there are many errors and missing words but it's a good book when you overlook them.
I had not read much on Churchill's early years, just his war years, and find it interesting to see how much of a leader and showman he was as a youngster. He was not a good student unless it was a subject that interested him, such as horse riding. He also loved attention and used his family's connections to keep himself at the center of action as much as possible. A quote from the book that demonstrates this is when Prime Minister Herbert Asquith remarked that Churchill "would make a drum out of the skin of his own mother in order to sound out his praises".
Throughout the book, we can see Churchill struggle with religious beliefs and how he viewed the hand of God in the events of his life. His nanny, Elizabeth Everest or Woomany, as he called her, was the driving force behind much of his religious beliefs. She was the one that took him and his brother to church as often as possible and taught them her views on religion. Her viewpoint (as discussed on pg. 9) was Low church and anti-Catholic. One example of his wrestling with what he really believed in - at the age of 21, he was pondering what rules man's life. Was it luck, fortune, individual decisions? He didn't see it as Christianity or any religion but he sensed something was there. (pg. 43) Another interesting comparison of Churchill's beliefs - on pg. 112 he's speaking of an accident that occured to him while in the US before WWII and says "Nature is merciful and does not try her children, man or beast, beyond their compass. It is only where the cruelty of man intervenes that hellish torments appear." That has some similarity to I Cor. 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (ESV) This is an example of him knowing something is there but not quite sure what to call it, so he calls it nature but the Bible calls it God but you can see the similarity between the two statements. Overall, he was a very religious man in the English sense. He knew his Bible well and quoted it often but generally quotes a God that helps those who helps themselves (pg.135)
Throughout the book, no matter how much Churchill show-boated, you can see he's a leadership genius and was perfectly suited for the task as Prime Minister of England during WWII. There is more I could say about the book, but if I continue, I may as well write a book myself. :-) I'll end with his personal motto: KBO (keep buggering on).
I got this book thru the Thomas Nelson Book-Sneeze Program.