Continued from page 1

And when Churchill was finally in power as a result of the heroic efforts of these troublesome young men, he treated them shamefully, giving none but Eden senior posts vital to the conduct of the war. All the others were fobbed off with minor jobs as Churchill embraced the arch-appeasers and defeatists who had done everything to thwart his accession. Ms. Olson makes too little of the extraordinary fact that Chamberlain, against all custom and tradition, remained leader of the Conservative Party when he lost the premiership. Only on Chamberlain’s death later in 1940 was Churchill offered the leadership of his party — he accepted against the bitter remonstrations of his wife that he should remain above such partisanship.

But, having been so abused by the party in which he had made his start, then abandoned, then eventually rejoined — “ratted and re-ratted” as he memorably put it — he seemed to crave their approbation rather than that of those who had gone to so much trouble to put him where he was. As Boothby wrote, “Strangely, Churchill never really forgave the men who had put him in power. In some ways he felt a kind of resentment against those who had helped him obtain it.”

But none of them regretted what they had done: They were bigger than that, just as Churchill’s greatness and his necessariness to the successful prosecution of the war were more important than his undeniable pettiness towards those who had helped him achieve what he so wanted and needed to accomplish. Churchill should have been more grateful, but by the time readers finish this book, they will undoubtedly feel gratitude towards those “Troublesome Young Men.”

Martin Rubin is a writer and critic in Pasadena, Calif.