Churchill - Master and Commander, Anthony Tucker-Jones

Churchill - Master and Commander, Anthony Tucker-Jones

Winston Churchill at War 1895-1945

The structure of this book differs from standard biographies and fits with its aim of looking at Churchill’s experience of war – as a soldier, journalist, First War War era polititian and Prime Minister. The first two sections, covering his early life and First World War experiences are largely chronological, but focus on his military experiences and his impact on the fighting in the First World War. One focus that emerges here is an examination of how often Churchill actually deserved the blame for actions associated him – in this case Gallipoli, where the point is made that Churchill only had influence over events for the first month of the campaign, and even then had little impact on the Army’s plans.

The third, fourth and fifth sections, looking at the inter-war periods and the Second World War are organised by theme rather than chronologically. We thus get chapters on Churchill in Ireland, the relationship with Roosevelt or North Africa, each overlapping in time but not in content. The sixth section is more chronological, with a focus on the arguments about when and where to invade mainland Europe, D-Day and its aftermath and the advance into Germany.

I found the thematic structure suited the topic very well. Although there are of course occasions where events in one area or theatre impacted directly on Churchill’s options in another area there are plenty of more chronologically structured books to bring that out. Instead this allows us to focus on Churchill’s approach to a particular topic without getting distracted by diversions. This especially suits topics such as his relationships with Roosevelt, de Gaulle and Stalin, each of which gets their own chapter. The book is well balanced, with Churchill’s achievements and failures acknowledged and discussed. 

This is an unusual approach to Churchill’s life, and I found it to be a interesting read that often gave a different view of some famous incidents, as well as drawing attention to the less familiar early period of his military career.

Part I: Baptism of Fire
1 – Soldiers of the Queen
2 – Frontier Wars
3 – Great Escape
4 – The Sakabulas

Part II: Fall and Rise
5 – A Haunting Lesson
6 – ‘Cat on Hot Bricks’
7 – Winston’s Mercenaries

Part III: World Order or Disorder
8 – Flying Police
9 – Troubled Emerald Isle
10 – Beneath the Sphinx
11 – Nazism or Communism

Part IV: The Warlord Returns
12 – Master and Commander
13 – His Finest Hour
14 – Strategic Dilemma
15 – Old Foes
16 – Hitting Back
17 – ‘Band of Brothers’

Part V: Global Juggling Act
18 – Mediterranean Showdown
19 – An American Friend
20 – Joan of Arc
21 – Courting the Red Czar
22 – Loss of Faith
23 – India in Revolt

Part VI: War of Wills
24 – Strained Relations
25 – Second Front Now
26 – ‘Death Wish’
27 – Miracle of Deliverance
28 – ‘The Whole Scene’

Author: Anthony Tucker-Jones
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2021

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