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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (314 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Max Hastings Narrator: Robin Sachs Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9780307712882
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Beginning in 1940, when popular demand elevated Churchill to the role of prime minister, and concluding with the end of the war, Hastings shows us Churchill at his most intrepid and essential, when, by sheer force of will, he kept Britain from collapsing in the face of what looked like certain defeat. Later, we see his significance ebb as the United States enters the war and the Soviets turn the tide on the Eastern Front. But Churchill, Hastings reminds us, knew as well as anyone that the war would be dominated by others, and he managed his relationships with the other Allied leaders strategically, so as to maintain Britain’s influence and limit Stalin’s gains.

At the same time, Churchill faced political peril at home, a situation for which he himself was largely to blame. Hastings shows how Churchill nearly squandered the miraculous escape of the British troops at Dunkirk and failed to address fundamental flaws in the British Army. His tactical inaptitude and departmental meddling won him few friends in the military, and by 1942, many were calling for him to cede operational control. Nevertheless, Churchill managed to exude a public confidence that brought the nation through the bitter war.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “One of those rare books that create in the reader a palpable feeling of the excitement, fear, frustration, grief, dread, all-too-occasional elation, and numbing fatigue of those critical days.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “It is phenomenally difficult to unearth fresh stories and anecdotes about a man as widely and deeply covered historically as Winston Churchill, yet Hastings succeeds again and again…None can fail to admire Hastings’s archival tenacity and sheer authorial reach.”

    Daily Telegraph

  • “With great skill and felicity, Max Hastings has given us a rich account and analysis of Churchill and his role in the Second World War. He does not ignore his many faults but ultimately, quite rightly, it is his greatness that triumphs in this splendidly told tale.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “The indomitable character of Churchill comes alive in these pages, and Hastings forces the reader to ponder how the war might have turned out had the stalwart leader not been at the helm. A magisterial, commanding, and immensely thought-provoking history.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A magnificent achievement. After the vast number of works on Churchill that have appeared in the last sixty-five years, one could be forgiven for thinking everything significant must already have been said, but Winston’s War is something fresh and different . . . One of those rare books that create in the reader a palpable feeling of the excitement, fear, frustration, grief, dread, all-too-occasional elation, and numbing fatigue of those critical days. New York Review of Books
  • Max Hastings has written a subtly revisionist account of Britain’s wartime premier, chiefly by viewing Churchill through the eyes of others….. That Hastings is never seduced by Churchill’s effortless apophthegms and anecdotes is one indication that this is a really fine book rather than simply an addition to the hagiography…. Doubtless this remarkable book will irritate those who like their history sealed and dusted, or worse, cite Churchill for mere political advantage. At a time when our politicians are mismanaging a foreign war, it has many invaluable lessons, not just about leadership, but about the relationship between soldiers and civil society, which range far beyond the period Hastings nominally addresses. In that respect this is a timely as well as a judicious and important book. The Daily Telegraph
  • Hastings presents [Churchill] . . . as a ruthless, brandy-gulping Tory with the fire and the guts to beat Hitler . . . . [I]n a crowded field, this is one of the best books ever written about Churchill. Piers Brendon, The Sunday Times
  • With prose that’s a joy to read, the redoubtable and much-published Max Hastings turns his pen to what Churchill remains famous for. Despite other works examining this subject, libraries and readers of many persuasions will want this massive and detailed examination of the prime minister and his personal war. Library Journal
  • The indomitable character of Churchill comes alive in these pages, and Hastings forces the reader to ponder how the war might have turned out had the stalwart leader not been at the helm. A magisterial, commanding, and immensely thought-provoking history. Kirkus Reviews (Starred review)
  • It is phenomenally difficult to unearth fresh stories and anecdotes about a man as widely and deeply covered historically as Winston Churchill, yet Hastings succeeds again and again . . .  . [N]one can fail to admire [Hastings’s] archival tenacity and sheer authorial reach. His chapter on Churchill in Athens in Christmas 1944 is worth the price of the book alone. Andrew Roberts, The Daily Telegraph
  • Although there have been a number of books recently about the Allied leaders in the Second World War, this one should not be missed…The book’s portrait of Churchill is scrupulously fair and often deeply moving, describing his great courage and vision as well as his obstinate misjudgments and blind spots. In fact, Hastings excels with all his character portraits, which brilliantly illuminate the key relationships, especially with Roosevelt and Stalin. Hastings is truly a master of strategy and high command. Anthony Beevor, Mail on Sunday
  • With great skill and felicity, Max Hastings has given us a rich account and analysis of Churchill and his role in the Second World War. He does not ignore his many faults but ultimately, quite rightly, it is his greatness that triumphs in this splendidly told tale. San Francisco Chronicle
  • Hastings has written an impressive book, full of judicious asides, and it deserves a wide readership. United States Naval Institute
  • As Max Hastings relates with admirable objectivity in Winston’s War, however noble Churchill’s will and sublime his language, his record as a strategist was very mixed indeed. While regularly reminding us (and maybe himself) of Churchill’s greatness, Hastings describes one lamentable mistake after another. New York Times Book Review
  • Military historian Hastings adds to his illustrious reputation with this magnificent analysis of Winston Churchill’s years of greatness . . . Hastings recognizes Churchill’s strategic errors, his misplaced enthusiasms . . . But ‘the outcome justified all.’ Publishers Weekly
  • This is a rich and rewarding book, the fruit of many years of reflection on the conduct of war. It is enlivened by countless insights on matters great and small, and by a spare, trenchant style which holds the reader’s attention throughout its 600 pages… For all his mistakes, Churchill had a moral stature, a generosity of spirit, and a largeness of vision unique among his leading contemporaries, qualities which were acknowledged even by those who disagreed with him. They enabled him to exercise an influence, particularly in 1942 and 1943, out of all proportion to the military and economic weight of his country. Even his misjudgments were pressed with a force of personality and rhetorical skill which forced his allies and his chiefs of staff to think beyond the routine, and to work harder to justify their views. The Spectator
  • Hastings is probably as qualified to understand Churchill as any man of his generation can be. Like Churchill, he spent his early life seeking adventure—as a war correspondent in Biafra and Vietnam he saw more shooting than most soldiers in the post-war British army (until now). Like Churchill, he has great confidence in his own judgment….Hastings captures Churchill’s mix of charm, exhibitionism, sentimentality, and egotism….Hastings…writes with the calm and authority that come from long experience and wide reading. Times Literary Supplement
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for May 2010

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dan | 2/4/2014

    " A solid addition to the Churchill bookshelf, with clear-eyed and even-handed commentary on Churchill's strengths and weaknesses along with those of other players. There is too much commentary and not enough exposition, as if the author expects his readers to know all about the war & its main protagonists and is merely filling in the missing pieces. Still, I'd recommend this to Churchill fans. I consider myself one (because of his lonely crusade against Hitler in the 30s and his peerless leadership in 1940-41), even though I'd have joined the country in voting against him once the war was over. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Martin | 2/4/2014

    " Interesting if somewhat of a slog. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Baxter | 2/2/2014

    " Read a 10 part extract in The Daily Mail by Max Hastings. An interesting portrait of Churchill in that his real war leadership was during the Battle of Britain (1940-41) and thereafter he was really in the back seat as America entered the war and the leadership role. The reality was that the Russians did most of the dying that was necessary to defeat Germany. And the Russians ultimately ran the show in terms of the division of Europe into spheres of influence with the Americans and British letting Stalin pretty much do as he pleased. Once the war was over, the British people had had enough and voted W.C. and the Tories out in favor of Clement Attlee and Labour. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Wilkinson | 2/1/2014

    " Interesting read. Very fluid writing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ari Lichtenstein | 1/17/2014

    " Stresses what the layman thought throughout the war ... fair handed, but a bit to fair. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 1/5/2014

    " Compelling, detailed look at Churchill's years as "war leader" from 1940 to 1945. Interesting look at his relationships with Roosevelt and Stalin "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 12/30/2013

    " Personally I really enjoyed this. The journalistic style makes it easy going. While Churchill comes through as a truly impressive man. I really am not sure whether Britain would have kept fighting if he had not been in charge. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 12/5/2013

    " Good look at Churchill during the war years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Beck | 11/24/2013

    " If you have never read anything about this great war leader start with this book. Without him in power I believe the outcome of the war could have been very different. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adam DeVille, Ph.D. | 11/15/2013

    " A solid, well-balanced, critical but sympathetic portrait of Churchill that avoids treacly hagiography on the one hand and demonization on the other. Very well done, and deeply informative, especially about strategic decisions in 1944-45. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurence Weinstein | 11/1/2013

    " Hastings continues to bring the goods with a detailed biography of Churchill's running of the war and his diplomatic efforts in the Big Three. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Simon | 5/11/2013

    " I'm going out of my usual fields in reading a book of this sort. I like my history but don't always take it neat. So I don't have much to compare it with. All I can say is that it seemed authoritative and insightful and I never once thought of abandoning despite its girth. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom Blumer | 2/8/2013

    " This book was a different view of Winston Churchill as the British wartime leader. It highlighted not only his successes but also his foibles. It showed the human side with all of his faults making it a very worthwhile read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole Sunderlin | 11/28/2012

    " Amazing read. Only complaint is that he didn't mention the close interaction with the royals and Churchill. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Frank Roberts | 9/26/2012

    " Hastings' portrayal of Churchill shows him as a man, with flaws, misjudgments, warts and all. And nonetheless he shines through as a Titan. An immensely enjoyable read, for making Churchill a very human hero, but definitely a hero. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mikee | 1/31/2012

    " This is a wonderfully good book - personal and professional. An in-depth biography of a great man in an impossible era. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Steve Anderson | 9/20/2011

    " Incredibly slow read as accounts are detailed as can be "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 GlenK | 8/30/2011

    " I stuck with this immense history because I am fascinated by the historical period and the people. I'm afraid though I found this to be a very dry, uninvolving work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bigtheta | 1/18/2011

    " Who needs another Churchill book?! You do if you haven't read Winston's War. Not a haigography, but rather a hard clear-eyed look at C during the war. Cumpulisively readable crystalline prose. Will prod you to rexamine what you know. C emerges a fuller more rounded person. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mikee | 1/2/2011

    " This is a wonderfully good book - personal and professional. An in-depth biography of a great man in an impossible era. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jp | 8/12/2010

    " Gives the big picture. One of the most enjoyable books about W. C. and the personalities at the top. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 7/26/2010

    " Compelling, detailed look at Churchill's years as "war leader" from 1940 to 1945. Interesting look at his relationships with Roosevelt and Stalin "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Frank | 7/1/2010

    " Hastings' portrayal of Churchill shows him as a man, with flaws, misjudgments, warts and all. And nonetheless he shines through as a Titan. An immensely enjoyable read, for making Churchill a very human hero, but definitely a hero. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bigtheta | 5/30/2010

    " Who needs another Churchill book?! You do if you haven't read Winston's War. Not a haigography, but rather a hard clear-eyed look at C during the war. Cumpulisively readable crystalline prose. Will prod you to rexamine what you know. C emerges a fuller more rounded person. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Martin | 5/18/2010

    " Interesting if somewhat of a slog. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom | 4/6/2010

    " An oft told tale, that didn't need to be retold. A decent book, but I didn't learn anything new. If yoy know nothing about Churchill's WW2 rwcord, this is a good book to read. "

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About the Author
Author Max Hastings

Max Hastings is the author of more than twenty books. He has served as a foreign correspondent and as the editor of Britain’s Evening Standard and Daily Telegraph. He has received numerous British Press awards, including Journalist of the Year in 1982 and Editor of the Year in 1988.

About the Narrator

Robin Sachs (1951–2013), raised in London and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, came to the United States in 1991. His credits include Alias, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dynasty, Nowhere Man, Babylon 5, Diagnosis Murder, Galaxy Quest, Northfork, Ocean’s 11, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Megalodon.