The Last Lion Part 3 - Review

the-last-lion-3Paul Reid and William Manchester tell the story of Winston Churchill between the years of 1940 and 1965. The dramatic events of World War II set the stage for the latter part of Churchill’s life. As a senior member of the House of Commons, the popular Prime Minister leads a country through the perils of the London bombings, as well as the invasions of Northern Africa, Mediterranean  shores, and the famed Norman beaches of France. The book describes the turn of events that lead to the diminishing British Empire and Cold War. America and Russia emerge as the two leading superpowers as the United Kingdom becomes relegated to the second string.  The closing years of Churchill are described by his continual struggle on the stage politics. His ambitious drive for sustained peace, a united states of Europe, and a realized united nations, dominate his latter efforts on behalf of the King, and Queen, of England. William Manchester wrote part one and two of this biography. He passed away after having delegated the final task to a trusted friend named Paul Reid. The length of the work is a testimony to Reid’s thoroughness and deep respect for the original research conducted by Manchester.  Parts of the book read more like history than biography. But these were the times of Churchill: historic. The English patriot seems to be painted in a fair, if not favorable, light. He is not without flaw or error but a reasonable rationale is always provided, even for his greater blunders.

I would recommend reading this book. It is an epic conclusion to an epic story. This is the longest of the three parts at 1232 pages.  The tedium with which Reed and Manchester describe the life of Churchill is the greatest and weakest quality of the work. Political intrigue is in the eye of the beholder. The passages detailing the war, and especially the end of the war, are exceptionally well done. Only a man of Churchill’s age and experience could offer warnings about the risk of a third world war and the Cold War that excised for nearly fifty years after the fall of Berlin.

Brent ColbyComment