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Extended Audio Sample Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill, by Michael Shelden Click for printable size audiobook cover
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In modern memory, Winston Churchill remains the man with the cigar and the equanimity among the ruins. Few can remember that at the age of forty he was considered washed up, his best days behind him. In Young Titan, historian Michael Shelden has produced the first biography focused on Churchill’s early career, the years between 1901 and 1915 that both nearly undid him but also forged the character that would later triumph in the Second World War.

Between his rise and his fall, Churchill built a modern navy, experimented with radical social reforms, survived various threats on his life, made powerful enemies and a few good friends, annoyed and delighted two British monarchs, became a husband and father, took the measure of the German military machine, authorized executions of notorious murderers, and faced deadly artillery barrages on the Western front. Along the way he learned how to outwit more experienced rivals, how to overcome bureaucratic obstacles, how to question the assumptions of his upbringing, how to be patient and avoid overconfidence, and how to value loyalty.

He also learned how to fall in love. Shelden gives us a portrait of Churchill as the dashing young suitor who pursued three great beauties of British society with his witty repartee, political flair, and poetic letters. In one of many never-before-told episodes, Churchill is seen racing to a Scottish castle to prepare the heartbroken daughter of the prime minister for his impending marriage.

This was a time of high drama, intrigue, personal courage, and grave miscalculations. But as Shelden shows in this fresh and revealing biography, Churchill’s later success was predicated on his struggles to redeem the promise of his youth.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “For history buffs, Winston Churchill is the gift that keeps on giving, and in Young Titan Michael Shelden has given us the gift of Churchill’s fascinating formative years. It’s all here—the boy wonder, adventurer, romantic, orator, and eloquent man in the arena. I didn’t want it to end.”

    Tom Brokaw, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Michael Shelden has done the nigh-impossible: he has found original things to say about the man Isaiah Berlin called ‘the largest human being of our time’—Winston Churchill. In this entertaining and deeply researched book, Shelden paints a memorable portrait of the young Churchill’s life and loves.”

    Jon Meacham, New York Times bestselling author

  • Young Titan gives us an exciting, needed look at Winston Churchill in his years as a Liberal. Breaking with the Conservatives, he battled for better working conditions, for unemployment insurance, for improvements in education. He waged a two-front war: against the Tories on the right, the socialists on the left. It is the young Churchill at his best, a great foretelling of what was to come when Britain and the world needed him most.”

    Chris Matthews, New York Times bestselling author of Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero and anchor of MSNBC’s Hardball

  • “A fluid and informative examination of the early career of one of modern Britain’s most outstanding political leaders.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Solid biography…The book holds up well against the competition.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author

Michael Shelden spent twelve years as a feature writer for the Daily Telegraph in London and as a fiction critic for the Baltimore Sun. He has written several biographies, including Orwell, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. He is currently a professor of English at Indiana State University.