Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill:His Times, His Crimes

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The subject of numerous biographies and history books, Winston Churchill has been repeatedly voted as one of the greatest of Englishmen. Even today, Boris Johnson in his failing attempts to be magisterial, has adopted many of his hero's mannerism! And, as Tariq Ali agrees, Churchill was undoubtedly right in 1940-41 to refuse to capitulate to fascism. However, he was also one of the staunchest defenders of empire and of Britain's imperial doctrine.

In this coruscating biography, Tariq Ali challenges Churchill's vaulted record. Throughout his long career as journalist, adventurer, MP, military leader, statesman, and historian, nationalist self belief influenced Churchill's every step, with catastrophic effects. As a young man he rode into battle in South Africa, Sudan and India in order to maintain the Imperial order. As a minister during the first World War, he was responsible for a series of calamitous errors that cost thousands of lives. His attempt to crush the Irish nationalists left scars that have not yet healed. Despite his record as a defender of his homeland during the Second World War, he was willing to sacrifice more distant domains. Singapore fell due to his hubris. Over 3 Millions Bengalis starved in 1943 as a consequence of his policies. As a peace time leader, even as the Empire was starting to crumble, Churchill never questioned his imperial philosophy as he became one of the architects of the postwar world we live in today.

Reviews

  • In Ali's telling, which draws on more honest existing historical scholarship than most popular biographies of Churchill, the two-times prime minister emerges not so much as deeply racist - some of his contemporaries remarked on it in shock - as profoundly authoritarian, with a soft spot for fascist strongmen, and a hostility to working-class assertion.

    Priyamvada GopalProspect
  • For Tariq Ali, Churchill debunking, like Churchill worship, is a political act.

    David AaronovitchThe Times
  • Ali portrays Churchill as cruel, incompetent and blinded by prejudice

    Spectator