Thursday, March 18, 2010
Book Review: Winston Churchill by John Perry
I recently finished the book from the Christian Encounters series, entitled "Winston Churchill," by John Perry. I actually do not enjoy studying history much at all, but I do love reading Christian biographies. I was quite familiar with the name "Winston Churchill" but didn't actually know anything about him at all.
The book is a biography that details Churchill's life from birth through death. Perry is careful to incorporate many of the shaping details of Churchill's life. He builds these details from many of letters and correspondence written by Churchill himself. Churchill was, in a way, a risk-taker. At first I compared him to Jim Elliot, who said, "I am immortal till my work is accomplished." Churchill certainly sought to put himself in dangerous situations. He loved the thought of being in battle, and purposely asked for commissions to places where he could see some "action." Much unlike Elliot, Churchill said, "I think more experience of war would make me religious." Even further unlike Jim Elliot, Churchill wrote to his mother after a particular skirmish, "I am so conceited I do not believe the Gods [sic] would create so potent a being as myself for so prosaic an ending."
To be brutally honest, I was frustrated while reading this book. I was frustrated with Winston Churchill the man, and I was frustrated with the organization of the material. I felt that the author bounced around a lot, and I had difficulty following along in the story or paying attention. I had to reread paragraphs, flip back chapters, and try to remember where the story was going. Having no background as to who Churchill was, I also was trying to learn a good deal. But maybe the greatest frustration is my expectation that Churchill was a man of faith. I felt sort of "strung along" by the author from the very beginning. I expected Churchill to be a Christian. I expected at some point in the story to read about his conversion--that his beliefs as a child/young adult were foolish, and he was "awakened" at some point later in life. In an early chapter the author wrote of Churchill's attitude, "This attitude seemingly gave Winston Churchill all the benefits of Christianity with none of the liabilities. He could call on God for help when he was in trouble, but otherwise believe whatever he wanted to believe and live as he wanted to live." Um...NOT Christian!! Still I hoped. At the end of his life, however, he joked and made light of judgment and the afterlife. He said, "It is conceivable that I might well be reborn as a Chinese coolie." I think that someone who enjoys history and especially war and leaders may enjoy this book. As for someone like me, who may be looking for strong Christian examples, keep looking.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”