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The Churchills: In Love and War 1st edition by Lovell, Mary S. (2012)

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  • W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (1709)
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Review Text

  • By Richard C. Reynolds on February 13, 2016

    This book is not solely about Winston Churchill although his life occupies the major part of it. Author Mary Lovell begins the story by introducing John Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, who lived from 1822 to 1823 and was Winston’s paternal grandfather. Winston’s father was Lord Randolph Churchill and, curiously enough, it was Randolph’s lack of fatherly attention towards Winston that played a positive role in Winston’s youth; it made him self-reliant, ambitious, and an almost maniacal workhorse. Lovell provides a two page selective Churchill family tree at the start which is very useful in keeping track of everyone. In the text leading up to Winston’s youthful years, we’re treated to plenty of tales about the higher echelons of British society. In those days, there were many marriages arranged between American women who were very wealthy and English noblemen who had little money but large estates to maintain. In many cases, the resulting marriages were unhappy unions, a result which caused either the husband or wife, or both, to seek love and sexual pleasures elsewhere, thereby generating tons of fodder for the London gossip mills. The standing rule in these “open marriages” was that the unfaithful party should be very discreet and not cause gossip or scandal. Winston participated in the Boer War as both a correspondent/journalist and a fighter. He was most anxious to get into the thick of combat, not for patriotic reasons but to burnish his reputation in order to achieve success in the political arena when he returned to England. He knew early in his life that he wanted a career in politics and spent all his energies to achieve his goals. Winston and Clementine, his sole wife of many years, traveled extensively, sometimes together and other times as individuals going to different places on political or business matters as well as vacations. Their lives intersected with other well known persons such as Mussolini, Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt, Evelyn Waugh, Jack Kennedy, Aristotle Onassis and many others. Both lived long lives and sadly witnessed the deaths of three of their five children. I recommend William Manchester’s Last Lion trilogy to those wishing more details about the life of Winston Churchill.

  • By John D. Cofield on May 15, 2011

    The Churchill family has contributed three towering figures to British history: John the first Duke of Marlborough, the nineteenth century politician Lord Randolph Churchill, and Sir Winston Churchill, the son of Lord Randolph who dominated early to mid twentieth century British politics. The Churchills have also succeeded in bringing into their bloodline contributions from many beautiful and highly accomplished women like Sarah Jennings, wife of the first Duke; the beautiful Jennie Jerome, wife of Lord Randolph; and Clementine Hozier, Sir Winston's equally redoubtable wife. Scattered among these giants have been many less remarkable Churchills: spendthrift nonentities careless of their heritage and overshadowed by their more impressive kin. Mary Lovell's magnificent family saga reveals the history of the Churchills in both its highs and its lows over the last three centuries.Lovell begins with a chapter dealing with John and Sarah Churchill, the first Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, who held great military and political power at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The first Duke's battlefield accomplishments led the British people to bestow Blenheim, one of the great non royal palaces, on him and his descendants (but unfortunately without also bestowing lands capable of producing the wealth needed to maintain it, resulting in Blenheim becoming a huge money pit for generations of Marlboroughs.) Lovell then skims over the next few generations of nonentities to concentrate on the late nineteenth century when financial pressures led two Churchills to marry wealthy Americans. Lord Randolph's wife Jennie Jerome was both beautiful and highly intelligent, qualities she used to help her husband's career immensely before he finally self-destructed. Randolph's brother the Duke of Marlborough made a famously unhappy marriage to Consuelo Vanderbilt, using her money to restore Blenheim but doing little or nothing to help their union succeed. Randolph and Jennie produced Winston Churchill, whose career justly dominates the last half of the book, which reveals that the celebrated wartime leader had almost constant money worries, was a loving but far too indulgent father, and a deeply adoring husband to his beloved Clementine.This is a long book, but it remained consistently entertaining and fascinating. The Churchills were leaders in Society as well as in politics, and their ups and downs and dealings with a vast array of friends and rivals make it impossible to put the book down at times. Lovell writes clearly, providing many footnotes to better explain some obscure terms or to more clearly identify some of the many people the Churchills dealt with over the years. I enjoyed The Churchills immensely and intend to reread it many times.

  • By Carol Miller on October 5, 2013

    Mary S. Lovell is a first-rate biographer, who does her homework so thoroughly her books are monuments of minutiae, yet impossible to set down. Hard to read over 600 pages at a sitting, but the temptation is there, this is Downton Abbey, but the real thing, against a background of aristrocracy, infidelity, betrayal, hypocrisy, and the salient history of the Twentieth Century, ever sympathetic to its principal subject. Winston Churchill was such an interesting man, so centered despite every obstacle of his life, family and personal qualities; and so true to love and honor, so committed to his country and its institutions, that despite the models that shaped him he was faithful, dauntless, persistent in every undertaking. He followed what he was sure was "his star", to the very end, was pampered and adored and garnered every reward, even the Nobel Prize for Literature. He confronted his failures with dignity (Galipolli) and pursued what he was sure would be his triumphs (the Second World War), with unflagging diligence. His marriage was a fairy tale of romantic delivrance, his children less so, but every tidbit and every nuance is cleverly drawn here, to the reader's delight. Mary Lovell, you've done it again!!

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