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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill


Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened. ~Winston Spencer Churchill

I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. ~Winston Spencer Churchill

 

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It’s a fact of human existence that we are in one of three phases at any point in our lives….either we are in a storm, just coming out of a storm, or there is a storm on our horizon into which we are heading whether we are aware of it or not. It is in our handling of these storms that determines whether we see life as something to escape from or an daring adventure.

I enjoy reading biographies of great leaders to gain insight as to  how they navigated the hurricanes of their lives so, when I am in the midst of my own raging storm, I can lean on them and their experiences for inspiration to complete my own journey.

I am currently reading the third volume of the Last Lion, a biography of Winston Spencer Churchill. A man I view as one of the greatest leaders ever to have graced the human race right up there with Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Mother Theresa. The books contain a whopping 3000 pages. I devoured the first two volumes about twenty years ago. The second book ended with Winston as a lone voice in the wilderness trying to get England and Europe to see the evil oozing from Hitler’s pores as he systematically devoured Europe.

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As soon as I finished the Alone volume, I set upon a search for volume three…to no avail. At the time, the third volume was still a twinkle in the author William Manchester‘s eye, an eye that would not see the completion of the trilogy because he was dying.

Fast forward 20 years to 2012 and, to my great joy, I learned late in the year that volume three was finished by Paul Reid, a man hand picked by the ailing Manchester, and had finally been published.

I wanted to drop everything and read it immediately but held off. I had set a goal to read 100 books during 2012 and tackling the 1232 page behemoth would put that achievement just beyond my grasp. I did make a vow to myself that Defender of the Realm would be the first book I read with the changing of the year.

Volume 3 begins on 21 January 1940, the day France surrendered to Nazi Germany. Virtually all of Europe was under Nazi control, the Russians were Hitler’s ally, and the US was isolationist. Churchill and Britain stood alone against the Nazi horde. Churchill was at the beginning of perhaps the biggest storm this world has ever experienced, assuredly the greatest storm of the 20th century, and it was going to get worse, much worse before the sun would cheerily rise on the British empire.

The Last Lion-3Looking over the course of Churchill’s life, we can see that his entire existence, his destiny was to thwart Hitler. From the time he was a child playing with toy soldiers in mock battles for countless hours, to his military experiences,  his time in politics and the wilderness years when he was out of office and politically in the wilderness, life was preparing him to rise against evil, to be a light guiding his people, guiding humanity, into a brave new world. 

England suffer terribly at the hands of a German air force that dropped bombs night after night for the better part of a year yet they never succumbed. This was in big part to constant encouragement by Churchill in speeches that, to this day, are some of the finest oratories ever produced.

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. ~Winston Churchill

We shall fight on the beaches,we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,we shall fight in the hills;but we shall never surrender. ~Winston Churchill

 The optimism Winston showed and was able to infuse into his people during one of the darkest hours in history inspires me to fight to always keep positive despite my troubles, in the heart of my storms, none of which comes anywhere close to approaching the storms that rained bombs on Britain for more than a year.

I highly recommend the three volume biography of Winston Spencer Churchill. It is a fascinating tale all the more impressive because it’s true.

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One comment on “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill

  1. […] waited twenty years for the 3rd volume of this Churchill biography. The Last Lion 3: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-65 by William Manchester &a…. The book took chronicled Winston’s life from the beginnings of WWII until his death. It was […]

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