I just finished reading the six volume set The Second World War by Winston Churchill. I have had the set for at least 20 years. I tried to start it once before but quickly lapsed. This time the tyrants, from petty to national, who locked us down and drained away our liberty kept me from using the libraries and I was forced onto my own resources.
It has been a rich time.
Churchill openly announces that he is writing from his perspective as Prime Minister of Great Britain. He makes no apologies. Much of the volume was made up of the documented communications that he sent.
One of the surprises to me was the vision of Churchill being duped by Stalin. I had always understood that Franklin Roosevelt had been fooled by the Communist. That came through in these volumes. I had been under the impression that Churchill had seen through him. I no longer believe that. Even at the end of things, when he seems to have had an epiphany, he was still easily swayed by the charm and charisma of Joseph Stalin. Take this description of possibly the last meeting he had with Stalin. FDR has died. The war in Europe is over. Soon the atomic bombs will be dropped on Japan and that will come to an end. Churchill is on the verge of finding out that he has been voted out of office. In other words, this is his final word.
“Then a very odd thing happened. My formidable guest got up from his seat with the bill-of-fare card in his hand and went around the table collecting the signatures of many of those who were present. I never thought to see him as an autograph-hunter. When he came back to me I wrote my name as he desired, and we both looked at each other and laughed. Stalin’s eyes twinkled with mirth and good-humour. I have mentioned before how the toasts at these banquets were always drunk by the Soviet representatives out of tiny glasses, and Stalin had never varied from this practice. But now I thought I would take him on a step. So I filled a small-sized claret glass with brandy for him and another for myself. I looked at him significantly. We both drained our glasses at a stroke and gazed approvingly at one another.”It seems to me that Churchill is still not willing to admit the evil in Stalin. It is also a good reminder that just because someone is the epitome of evil, you cannot assume that they have no social skills.
Remember that when you are evaluating political and business leaders in our day.
Churchill, Winston S. Triumph and Tragedy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1953, p. 669.
homo unius libri