Tag: Churchill

Quote of the Day: Courage

 

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill

Churchill is right on both counts. It takes courage to stand up and speak, especially when your words go counter to today’s conventional and delivered wisdom. That goes double, or maybe triple in today’s cancel culture, when speaking the truth could cost you your job and your fortune, and turn you into an outcast.  There is too little of that going on today, although there is beginning to be more of it.

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“That is most fully in our minds. I am sure that the mistakes of that time will not be repeated. We shall probably make another set of mistakes.” – Winston S. Churchill, June 8, 1944 “Nothing will stop you being creative more effectively as the fear of making a mistake.” – John Cleese Preview Open

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Paul Reid, co-author, with William Manchester, of the New York Times best-selling biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965.

Reid shares how he was enlisted to complete William Manchester’s biographical trilogy on the greatest political figure of the 20th century, which became a best-seller. They discuss Churchill’s remarkable foresight about the dangers of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, his courageous World War II leadership, and what students should know about his central role in the Allies’ defeat of Hitler, as well as big-picture lessons on statesmanship during times of crisis. They review the significance of Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech, delivered in Missouri 75 years ago, a seminal Cold War event warning about communist totalitarianism. Reid offers insights on Churchill’s liberal arts education and grounding in classical history, which informed his actions as well as his 43 book-length works and extraordinary speeches. He also sheds light on the more private side of this great figure, who was an ambitious, driven workaholic, yet also charismatic, playful, and artistic. The interview concludes with a reading from Reid’s Churchill biography.

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I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is […]

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The Great Books

 

Remember those 71 volumes of the Harvard Classics that you felt bound to read but after many minor starts, you set aside a volume and got lost in that detective series? So many books; so little time.

Well, the dreaded Amazon has published on Kindle all 71 volumes in one mostly well-linked file for a mere $1.99. Worth the price. Only 37,451 pages. I always have five or six books I’m reading, switching from one to the other, depending on my mood.

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I’m finishing (8% to go Kindle app says) The Last Lion: Volume 1 by William Manchester and before moving on to Volume 2 I’d like to read more into WWI. Does anyone have any recommendations for a quality WWI book that stops at least before 1932? If your read all 3 volumes of Manchester your input […]

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Iconic Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Sir Winston Churchill was a former officer in the British Army and is considered by many to be one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century. He oversaw British victory in the Second World War, played an important role in defending against the spread of fascism, […]

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Quote of the Day: Winston Churchill on Socialism

 

In 1925, Churchill officially rejoined the Conservative Party in Britain.  In a speech in 1926, in “strongly working-class Bolton”, he says:

Let them abandon the utter fallacy, the grotesque, erroneous, fatal blunder of believing that by limiting the enterprise of man, by riveting the shackles of a false equality upon the efforts of all the different forms and different classes of human enterprise, they will increase the well-being of the world.

Book Review: ‘The Splendid and the Vile,’ Churchill During the Blitz

 

If you can read only one book this year, I recommend The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. A couple of weeks ago, on the National Review Flagship weekly podcast “The Editors,” Rich Lowry asked what the panelists were reading. One of the panelists said The Splendid and the Vile.

The next week, that panelist said that he had finished and another panelist said that he was now reading it! About that time, I heard one of the panelists at the Dispatch Flagship Podcast mention the book, and if memory serves, an MSNBC person said that he was reading it! All were in thrall with the book.

I have a colonoscopy coming up next Tuesday, and I wanted to take a quick vacation to southwest Colorado. I ordered the book. It arrived on Wednesday, 72 hours ago. I just finished its 503 pages a few minutes ago. In the last 72 hours, I have been driving some 600 miles and reading this book, stopping only to sleep. I immediately ordered a copy to be sent to my mother; I didn’t want her to wait for it to be delivered by “media mail.”

Quote of the Day: Winston Churchill and The French Helmet

 

When Churchill visited the French XXXIII Corps with [General Sir Louis] Spears, its commander gave him a distinctive poilu helmet, which he thought superior to the round British “soup bowl” steel helmet and which he wore thereafter.  “It looks so nice and will perhaps protect my valuable cranium,” he told [his wife] Clementine, saying it was “the cause of much envy. I look most martial in it – like a Cromwellian – I always intend to wear it under fire, but chiefly for the appearance”. (ed. Soames, Speaking pp 132, 129). His new headgear underlined his Francophilia, and his lifelong love of unusual hats, which he felt was useful for cartoonists.

The above quote is a footnote at the bottom of Page 235 of Andrew Roberts’s book Churchill, Walking With Destiny.  The time period was November, 1915 in the midst of WWI.  Below is a painting of Mr. Churchill in his favorite helmet.  Roberts says that Churchill especially loved this particular painting.

Friday Digging (and Cooking) for Victory Post: V-E Day +75!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen of Ricochet, I bring you across-the-pond greetings from Auntie Pat (97 in July, may she live forever). She wishes you a very happy V-E day, thanks those of you with WWII service members in your families, hopes you are well, and that you have a very nice summer and Fourth of July. She’s currently locked down and holding her own in a facility in Birmingham in the UK.

Regular and Irregular Channels

 

Some of the witnesses at the ongoing Congressional hearings seem quite disturbed at the use of “irregular channels” for decision-making and implementation, supplementing and bypassing the “regular” channels. (here, for example) Reminds me of a Churchill story…

In February 1940, Churchill was not yet Prime Minister but rather was First Lord of the Admiralty. He received a letter from a father disappointed that his son had been turned down for a commission, despite his qualifications and his record. Churchill suspected class prejudice and wrote to the Second Sea Lord, saying that “Unless some better reasons are given to me, I shall have to ask my Naval Secretary to interview the boy on my behalf.”

Quote of the Day #2: The Declaration of Independence

 

“The Declaration of Independence is not only an American document. It follows on Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights as the third great title-deed on which the liberties of the English-speaking people are founded. By it we lost an Empire, but by it we also preserved an Empire. By applying its principles and learning its lesson we have maintained our communion with the powerful Commonwealths our children have established beyond the seas…We therefore join in perfect sincerity and simplicity with our American kith and kin in celebrating the auspicious and glorious anniversary of their nationhood.” – Winston Churchill, July 4, 1918

His words are just as true today as when he said them 101 years and two days ago. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution may now seem as if they are under siege, but the were under siege by those who hate liberty when they were written and have remained under siege ever since.

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[From The World Crisis 1911–1918 by The Rt. Hon. Winston S. Churchill, C.H., M.P. Part III 1916–1918, Chapter XXIII Victory, pp 1400—1401 (originally published 1931, page numbers from 1993 Barnes & Noble reprint)] And then suddenly the first stroke of the chime. I looked again at the broad street beneath me. It was deserted. From […]

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Darkest Hour: Movie vs. War Cabinet Minutes

 

Winston Churchill once tossed off a line to the effect that history would be kind to him because he intended to write it. The prophecy has been largely borne out, due in no small part to those writings. Churchill’s six-volume history of World War II did much to create his reputation for defiant courage—but also the enduringly unflattering one of his immediate predecessor as Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain (nicknamed “Old Umbrella” by his colleagues).

The movie Darkest Hour, with Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor (Gary Oldman), is very much in the Churchillian tradition, with the protagonist presented as a lonely and unpopular voice for fighting on no matter what. Ironically, however, Churchill never publicly referred to the conflict in the War Cabinet that is at the heart of the movie—whether to carry on the war against Germany alone or seek terms for ending it.

Nonetheless, there certainly was such a conflict, which we know because detailed minutes of War Cabinet meetings were kept. The historian John Lukacs used them to write his fine book, Five Days in London: May 1940 (1999), and they can be found online (though not easily) in the United Kingdom National Archives. The minutes confirm the standard accounts of Churchill’s eloquence and courage, but they tell a story quite different from the movie, and more interesting. They show Churchill deftly maneuvering to avoid a breach in his government; and for another man, and an unlikely one at that, the minutes tell a tale of some redemption.

Want to Write Well? Get Anglo-Saxon with It.

 

William Zinsser writes about the Latin, Norman, and Anglo-Saxon version of some words. When you need some information you can simply ask. If you want to be fancy you can pose a question. But only the truly sophisticated will interrogate.

Boris below observes the genius behind Churchill’s style is in moving between these different variations at the right moment. When Churchill really wants to grab the audience and make a memorable point he goes to the pre-Norman, Anglo-Saxon vocabulary that they know. Zinsser would approve as he advises us to cut out the clutter and get simple with word usage to produce great writing.

Seventy-six years ago, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, America went to war. Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover senior fellow and author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, discusses lessons learned from that conflict’s successes and failures and how they apply today.

Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club podcast for October 18, 2016 it’s the Rigged Podcast edition of the show. We are thrilled to have the chance this week to talk matters philosophical and transcendent (and Supreme Court) during our exclusive interview with Emily Bazelon of the New York Times Magazine and the Slate Political Gabfest who joins us again at HLC.

The Trump Train continues to clatter down the tracks and the days of rigorous speeches and focused message in late August and early September that brought the race to parity seems to be a thing of the past. Trump continues to draw tens of thousands but The Donald’s focus seems to be on polls and process. We discuss this and we also discuss a powerful piece by Hoover Institution historian and overall conservative big cheese Victor Davis Hanson – in The National Review no less – arguing the case for conservatives to vote for Trump. (We thought that was a no-brainer long ago).

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“Don’t let us be in too much of a hurry in that in which we set our hands to do. Let us remember that it is a great and solemn business we undertake. Cologne Cathedral took 600 years to build. Successive generations of architects died during its erection. Some built what had to be unbuilt […]

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In one of his greatest speeches Winston Churchill spoke the following words: “Alexander the Great remarked that the people of Asia were slaves because they had not learned to pronounce the word no. Let that not be the epitaph of the English speaking peoples or of parliamentary democracy or of France or of the many […]

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