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Latest Winston Churchill Items
Perhaps you remember the scene in the 1990 film "Ghost" in which Patrick Swayze's character, a ghost, torments Whoopi Goldberg's character, the only living person who can hear him, by singing "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" over and over and over again?
Winston Churchill's last decade of active life, from age 70 to age 80, has been generally ignored or passed over - supposedly tactfully, by his many admirers. The conventional wisdom is that the Grand Old Man stayed in the political arena far too long, indulged in Victorian-era, grandiose daydreams and that he was far out of touch with the realities of a new nuclear world, where Britain was dwarfed by the competing superpowers.
For Americans who tend to think of political "dynasties" in terms of mere decades - father-and-son combos like John and John Quincy Adams and the two George Bushes, or the now rather anemic remnant of Kennedy office- holders - the idea of a hereditary ruling class that could last nearly 2,000 years seems inconceivable.
Retrospective political correctness has so infected the groves of academe that the only thing many students know about great figures of the past are their feet of clay: that George Washington was a slaveholder and that one of Thomas Jefferson's slaves was his mistress.
The year 2010 has been rough on the reputation of Sir Winston Churchill, the wartime leader of Great Britain. In the spring, "Winston's War," a book by the respected military writer Max Hastings tore so many holes in Churchill's reputation as a strategist that one reviewer wondered that had he died in 1942, "Germany might have been defeated sooner."
In 2008, we rescued the banks. In 2009, we pledged $900 billion to rescue the rest of the economy. Last month, we extended jobless benefits to 99 weeks to rescue the unemployed. Call it bailouts. Call it stimulus. Call it emergency aid. America seems to be losing its stomach for failure, and that's very bad news if we have any hope for a robust economic recovery.
Most Americans realize that the war against Nazi Germany was a team effort. Indeed, the Soviets did the bulk of the fighting and dying. Americans are less aware that the campaign against Japan also was a team effort. Americans did the bulk of the fighting and dying. Nevertheless, the Allies also were involved.
The Obama administration – through its endless apologies for real and imagined American misdeeds and its resort to what Winston Churchill called "jaw-jaw" in all circumstances – has managed to only increase world tensions. It has created regional power vacuums by minimizing the U.S. role in leading the world's democratic forces.
More than half a century has passed, and memories have faded, so it is the triumph of this book that the author has so poignantly re-created a time of grim grandeur when the world was shaken by a struggle that encompassed not only the powerful, but, to an extraordinary degree, the ordinary people who lived through it.