The Last Lion: Volume I

By William Manchester

Magnificent. William Manchester's The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory 1874-1932 is simply magnificent. If I don't stop with that one word, I will pollute this page with superfluous superlatives. 

Manchester unveils Churchill's brilliance, wisdom and wit. He shows us a prescient statesman, a playful father and enraptured husband. He points us to verbal lightening and thunder. He presents Churchill the warrior, but a warrior disguised by a bland frame, delicate hands, and a Victorian bent. We witness the warrior's victories and we watch him humbled (if that were possible) by his defeats. Manchester spotlights Churchill's greatness without ignoring his flaws: his egoism, biting words, overpowering presence, combative nature, and the ever challenging Black Dog of depression. 

This is brilliance writing about brilliance. 

Here are 5 reasons to read The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory 1874-1932

1. The Preamble: The Lion at Bay. William Manchester whets the reader's appetite with thirty-five pages of Churchillian grandeur. What a treat. And to think that this master of biography is going to walk with us for 58 years of Churchill's life. This is 973 pages of pure satisfaction. 

2. The Prose: Be prepared to dive into the deep end of the English language. Few have conquered and commanded the King's English like Churchill, but Manchester is no schoolboy. His flow, humor, story-telling, vocabulary, and wit are an absolute delight.

3. The Scholarship: Read the acknowledgements. Peruse the index. Take a leisurely stroll through the Source Notes. Manchester's attention to detail and diligent scholarship are on full display.

4. The Links: Manchester opened my eyes to Churchill writings I did not know existed. He increased my "To Read" list with well-placed references to a multitude of sources.

5. The Perspective: John Piper said, "Mountains are not meant to envy." Reading Manchester has helped me appreciate the greatness of Winston Churchill without feeling "less than" or intimidated by his greatness. 

Underlining, highlights, and notations mark the pages of my copy. If you want to get past an armchair perspective of Winston Spencer Churchill, read this book. Don't let the 973 pages (or 41 hours of Audible recording) intimidate you.