A Man Among Mice

Lady Lytton probably summed up the aura of Winston Churchill most effectively when she said, "The first time you meet Winston you see all his faults and the rest of your life you spend in discovering his virtues." Those who have chronicled Churchill's life have been liberal about providing a compendium of his faults. Churchill was, after all, an albatross around the necks of a gaggle of British Prime Ministers and politicians from the turn of the century until past its midpoint. One would hardly get an objective appraisal from, say, Ramsay MacDonald, whom Churchill publicly compared to the traveling circus's Boneless Wonder. The same holds true of most of the other English statesmen of the time who, compared with Churchill, were third-rate men, plain and simple.

Churchill is an excellent subject for a biography because he had such an interesting life. He lived for 91 years, the first 20 of which were more than compensated for by the remainder. In his formative years, he evinced no signs of future greatness, shackled as he was by a brilliant, but distant and increasingly mad, father, Randolph, and a freethinking, absentee mother, Jennie, who gave new meaning to the word promiscuous. It is an everlasting credit to Churchill's name that, dealt that sort of a hand, he played the game straight. Many political peccadilloes may be attributed to him, but he was never anything but...

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