Winston as Warlord: A Critical Appreciation

Richard Wilkinson charts the highs and lows of Winston Churchill in 1940-45.

Winston Churchill visiting the ruins of Coventry Cathedral following its destruction in the Coventry Blitz of 14/15th November 1940.

‘I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour.’ Winston Churchill’s description of his feelings on becoming Prime Minister reveals tremendous self-belief, and this quality combined with his undoubted ability to make him a great warlord. Just how great is the question addressed in this article. What were his objectives when he became Prime Minister? On May 13 1940, while he promised the Cabinet ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’, he continued: ‘What is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory!’ Clearly he succeeded on both counts. But what sort of a victory and how avoidable were the blood, toil, sweat and tears?

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