Catalogue


Churchill's empire : the world that made him and the world he made /
Richard Toye.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2010.
description
xx, 423 p. : ill.
ISBN
0805087958, 9780805087956
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2010.
isbn
0805087958
9780805087956
general note
"A John Macrae Book."
catalogue key
7285735
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [385]-407) and index.
A Look Inside
First Chapter

Prologue

On 10 December 1954 a visitor from East Africa was waiting on a horsehair sofa in the hallway of 10 Downing Street. Suddenly, the small, frail figure of Winston Churchill appeared from behind a screen, said, 'Good afternoon, Mr Blundell,' and offered him a slightly stiffened hand to shake. The two men went together into the Cabinet Room. It was only three o'clock but Churchill — smoking his customary cigar — ordered them both a strong whisky and soda. As they sipped their drinks, their meeting, scheduled to take fifteen minutes, spilled out to last forty-five. The topic was the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule in Kenya; and Michael Blundell, a prominent white settler with a somewhat spurious reputation as a liberal, was given an impassioned exposition of the Prime Minister's views.

Churchill began by recalling his own visit to the country in 1907. Then, he had found the Kikuyu group, from which most of the rebels were now drawn, to be 'a happy, naked and charming people'. He professed himself 'astonished at the change which had come over their minds'. He became animated over the problem of how settlers might be protected from attack, and he poured out a flood of ideas designed to defend farmers: trip-wires, bells and other early warning systems. But in his view the issue was not really a military one — the problem was to get to the rebels' minds. His eyes grew tearful as he told Blundell of the threat the situation posed to Britain's good name in the world. It was terrible that the country that was the home of culture, magnanimity and democracy should be using force to suppress Mau Mau. 'It's the power of a modern nation being used to kill savages. It's pretty terrible,' he declared. 'Savages, savages? Not savages. They're savages armed with ideas — much more difficult to deal with.'

Over and again he pressed on a reluctant Blundell the need for negotiation, arguing that the strength of the hold the Mau Mau had on the Kikuyu proved that the latter were not primitive, stupid and cowardly, as was often imagined. Rather, 'they were persons of considerable fibre and ability and steel, who could be brought to our side by just and wise treatment'. He offered an analogy with his own role in finding a solution for the problem of Ireland after World War I, when he had negotiated with the nationalist leader Michael Collins, once a hard-line terrorist opponent of the British. Churchill also deplored British brutality against the Kenyan rebels and the fact that so many of the local population were locked up in detention camps, before offering his views on race relations. He was old-fashioned, he said, and 'did not really think that black people were as capable or as efficient as white people'. All the same, 'If I meet a black man and he's a civilized educated fellow I have no feelings about him at all.' He showed some scepticism about the white settlers too, 'a highly individualistic and difficult people', although he put some of their attitude down to 'tension from the altitude' in the highland areas in which they lived. When Blundell asked him for a message of encouragement to pass on to them, he declined, but, as his visitor got up to leave, Churchill assured him that he was on the right path and had his support. Blundell wished him a slightly belated happy eightieth birthday, and the Prime Minister looked greatly touched. He was beginning to feel his age, he said. Then he revealed a secret that had been kept from the outside world: 'Hm. I've had two strokes. Most people don't know that, but it's a fact. I keep going.' Blundell deduced that this accounted for the stiffened handshake at the beginning. Churchill walked him to the exit of the room and then, when Blundell had gone about five steps into the hall, wished him goodbye and good luck.1

This conversation did not mark any great turning point in the history of Kenya. Churchill, just months from retirement, was no longer in a position to be a major influence on colonial policy. Nevertheless, it was highly revealing of his attitudes to race and Empire, touching numerous themes that had been present throughout his career. There were so many familiar hallmarks: the gift for a phrase ('savages armed with ideas'), the recollection of a happier, more innocent past, the emphasis on magnanimity and negotiating from strength. Also familiar was his unashamed belief in white superiority, a conviction which, for him, however, did not lessen the need to act humanely towards supposedly inferior races that might, in their own way, be worthy of admiration. Recognizable as part of this was his opinion that members of these races might earn equal treatment, if not exactly warm acceptance, provided they reached an approved cultural standard: a 'civilized educated' black man would provoke 'no feelings' in him. Overall, the striking thing is the complexity of his opinions. He emerges from Blundell's account of the discussion as a holder of racist views but not as an imperial diehard. He comes across in his plea for peace talks as a thoughtful visionary, but also, in his description of the formerly 'happy, naked' Kikuyu, as curiously navØve about the realities of imperialism. He was prepared to question the conduct of a dirty colonial war, but was in the end willing to assure its supporters of his backing.

Churchill's conversation with Blundell is a good starting point for consideration of his lifelong involvement with the British Empire, and the general attitudes to it from which his specific policies fl owed. In order to do this we need to contend with his reputation — or reputations — on imperial issues. The popular image of him, which draws in particular on his opposition to Indian independence in the 1930s and 1940s, is of a last-ditcher for whom the integrity of the Empire was paramount. Yet many of his contemporaries had viewed him differently. As a youthful minister at the Colonial Office in the Edwardian period, political antagonists had described him as a Little Englander and a danger to the Empire. ('Little Englandism', which today carries connotations of anti-European xenophobia, at the time implied opposition to imperial expansion and to foreign entanglements in general; it was often used as a term of abuse.) As late as 1920, even the wild-eyed socialist MP James Maxton would claim disapprovingly that 'the British Empire was approaching complete disintegration' and that 'it was not going too far to say that Mr Churchill had played a primary party in bringing about that state of affairs'.2 Such critics, it should be noted, were not alleging that Churchill was actively hostile to the Empire, more that it was not safe in his hands or that he was comparatively indifferent to it. By the time of Churchill's final term in office, this view was still maintained by a tenacious few. In 1953 the Conservative politician Earl Winterton wrote to Leo Amery, one of Churchill's former wartime colleagues, to congratulate him on the first volume of his memoirs. He told him: 'I am particularly pleased that you have, whilst paying a tribute to Winston's great patriotism, stated, which is indubitably the case, that he has never been an imperialist in the sense that you and I are; we suffered from this point of view during the war, whilst we were in opposition after the war and are still suffering from it to-day.'3

Although similar opinions can be found in the historical literature, such contemporary opinions of Churchill need to be treated with some caution.4 Those who accused him of not caring enough about the Empire often meant, underneath, that he did not happen to share their particular view of it. Nor is the conventional image completely misleading. Although during his post-1931 wilderness years Churchill publicly disclaimed the diehard label, it is clear that he came to revel in it. During the war, the topic of India frequently triggered such extreme reactions in him that he sometimes appeared not quite sane.5 Nevertheless, this man who could be so disdainful of non- white peoples — 'I hate people with slit eyes & pig-tails' — also had another side to him.6 In 1906, when criticizing the 'chronic bloodshed' caused by British punitive raids in West Africa, it was he who sarcastically wrote: 'the whole enterprise is liable to be misrepresented by persons unacquainted with Imperial terminology as the murdering of natives and stealing of their lands'.7 As his talk with Blundell shows, this concern for the welfare of subject peoples stayed with him until the end of his career. In 1921, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, he stated that within the British Empire 'there should be no barrier of race, colour or creed which should prevent any man from reaching any station if he is fitted for it'. Yet he immediately qualified this by adding that 'such a principle has to be very carefully and gradually applied because intense local feelings are excited', which was in effect a way of saying that its implementation should be delayed indefinitely.8 As one Indian politician put it the following year, when noting Churchill's seemingly inconsistent position on the controversial question of Asians in East Africa, it was 'a case, and a very strange case indeed', of the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.9

Therefore, in order to understand the origins and impact of Churchill's imperialism, we do not need to overthrow the conventional picture so much as to understand how it arose. We also need to see why, during the second half of his career, it came to crowd out the story in which he appeared as a conciliator and even as a Radical. In order to do these things, we need a firm grasp of the world in which he grew up and began to make his career at the end of the nineteenth century. The British Empire at that time was in a phase of rapid expansion, driven by multiple forces, from private trading and missionary activity to international great-power rivalries. At the time of Churchill's birth, in 1874, it was about to embark on its most triumphant phase. In 1877, amid great controversy, Queen Victoria was crowned 'Empress of India', in a symbolic adornment of the longstanding British control of the subcontinent. During the 1880s, Britain took part in the 'scramble for Africa', a race between Europe an powers for colonies, acquiring Bechuanaland, Nigeria, Somaliland, Zululand, Kenya, Rhodesia and (in 1890) Zanzibar. This was by no means the end point of the growth of the Empire; there were further acquisitions at the end of World War I and, if enemy colonies conquered during World War II are taken into account, it reached its maximum territorial extent only in 1945.10 At its zenith, around 500 million people, or about a quarter of the world's population, were British subjects.

The very speed of the expansion, and the multiplicity of motives behind it, helped ensure a great diversity in methods of rule. Terminology shifted throughout the period of Churchill's lifetime — for example 'Commonwealth' gradually replaced 'Empire', to his considerable chagrin — but for the period of his political maturity certain broad generalizations are possible. Loosely speaking, the 'dominions' were those territories such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada which had achieved a substantial (and progressively increasing) level of political autonomy.11 During the interwar years they gained the formal right to secede from the Empire if they wished. The 'colonies', by contrast, were overseas possessions where the Crown retained proprietorship. They might nonetheless be 'self- governing', which meant that the white settler elites had considerable control over local affairs. There were also other forms of governance, including the League of Nations 'mandates' granted to Britain after World War I, as for example in Palestine. India, anomalously, was neither a dominion nor a colony, British rule there being to a substantial extent based on cooperation with loyal Indian princes.12

Such distinctions were probably lost on the majority of the British population at the time.13 This, however, does not necessarily constitute proof that the masses were indifferent to the Empire. Churchill, for one, believed that the imperial zeitgeist of his schoolboy years had left 'a permanent imprint upon the national mind'.14 As Churchill's headmaster at Harrow school put it in 1895: if the Elizabethan era marks the beginning, it is not less true that the Victorian era marks the consummation of the British Empire. The seventeenth century may be said to be the age of individual explorers, the eighteenth of commercial companies, the nineteenth of the State. [ . . . ] It is not the expansion of Empire, it is the spirit of Empire, which is the characteristic of the reign of Queen Victoria.15

This new spirit may have been largely restricted to elites; but then, Churchill was one of the elite.

The observation that this background was important is hardly original. When Jawaharlal Nehru (who was to become the first Prime Minister of independent India) remarked during World War II that Churchill had 'a Victorian mind' it served as a convenient way of saying that he was a reactionary.16 Historians criticizing Churchill have often used similar shorthand.17 Churchill's defenders also point to his Victorianism, but present it in a different way. For example his former private secretary John Colville, in a foreword to a new edition of The River War, Churchill's 1899 work on Kitchener's Sudan campaign, wrote the following.

Churchill's imperialism, faithfully representing the feelings of his fellow-countrymen at this apogee of the British Empire, emerges clearly from this book: but it should be judged by the generally accepted standards prevailing at the end of the Victorian era and not by those in fashion today. [ . . . ] Churchill, for his part, was antagonised by Kitchener's ruthless treatment of the defeated Dervishes, whose courage he respected.18

Similarly, one sympathetic historian, seeking to explain Churchill's toleration of discrimination against black Africans, writes: 'Churchill was a Victorian by upbringing [ . . . ] and most Britons of his generation regarded black Africans as backward and relatively uncivilized.' But, he adds, 'Churchill's own outlook was more informed and relatively enlightened.'19

The defenders' pleas for contextualization are, on the surface, highly plausible. However, they are also problematic. References to 'generally accepted standards', and to the views of 'most Britons', do less than full justice to the range of opinion in Victorian Britain to which Churchill was exposed. Furthermore, we are being asked to believe two contradictory things simultaneously. On the one hand, it is suggested, the seemingly unpleasant aspects of his racial thinking can be excused on the grounds that he could not have been expected to escape from the mentality prevailing during his youth. On the other hand, we are told, he did escape it and is to be praised because he was actually unusually enlightened! We should not, in fact, use Churchill's Victorian background as an historical 'get out of jail free' card for him any more than we should use it as a blanket label of condemnation. In order to understand its true importance, it is necessary to appreciate that his Victorian heritage accounted for many of the apparently 'enlightened' elements of Churchill's thought as well as many of the 'reactionary' ones. At the same time, his attitudes in later life were not always a straightforward extension of the ones he held earlier. He himself said that he 'had inclined more to the right as he got older', but there were some changes in his views that cannot be easily located on a left-right spectrum.20 For example, although he showed much hostility to Islam in his early writings, this died away and was replaced during the interwar years with a near-fanatical hatred of Hinduism. In 1943 he remarked, 'I'm pro-Moslem — the only quality of the Hindus is that there's a lot of them and that is a vice'.21

This book aims at genuine explanation of these complex patterns, not tub-thumping or apologetics. Remarkable as it may seem, it is the first attempt to provide a comprehensive treatment of Churchill's relationship with the Empire within a single volume.22 There have been some excellent short overviews, and numerous books dealing with particular countries, periods, themes and individuals, but no one has tackled the problem as a whole at volume length.23 The task is indeed a daunting one, and it is not possible within the scope of this book to give an exhaustive treatment of every single imperial issue with which Churchill was involved. It is, however, feasible to investigate the key features of the most important episodes and questions. Furthermore, there is significant new evidence that can be brought to bear on many of them. For example, the unpublished letters of Lady Lugard cast fresh light on the first controversial months of Churchill's ministerial career, and the recently released Cabinet Secretaries' notebooks (preserved for the post-1942 period) increase our understanding of his involvement in episodes such as the Mau Mau uprising.

The treasures of the archives should not, however, lead us to neglect published sources, not least the many forgotten reviews of Churchill's early books. These help us reconstruct the ideological world in which Churchill was operating and improve our understanding of his arguments. They also remind us that, even if he himself viewed his youthful imperial adventures simply as a shortcut to a political career, they need to be considered more broadly.24 They were the means by which he established a reputation as the premier 'public journalist of the Empire'.25 As such, he did not merely represent the Empire to the British people but affected the way it was seen throughout the world. Churchill became a global brand, inextricably mixed up with the image of the Empire, a process that began in the 1890s and reached its culmination during World War II. In one propaganda film shown in Africa, for example, the war was portrayed as a jungle fight between a snake, labelled 'Hitler', and its deadly enemy the mongoose, labelled 'Churchill'.26 Not, of course, that the intended message always got through: in the 1960s one Zambian woman obtained a devoted religious following by playing an entirely worn-out record of one of Churchill's wartime speeches on an ancient phonograph. She persuaded the crowds that the incomprehensible rumbling was 'God's voice anointing her his emissary and commanding absolute obeisance'.27

Therefore, this book does not adopt a purely biographical approach but explores Churchill's career within the context of the experiences and opinions of his contemporaries. It looks at attitudes and ideas as well as events and policies; crucially, it also examines the way in which Churchill was perceived and his messages understood not only in Britain but throughout the Empire. He must be seen not only through his own words but also through the eyes of his contemporaries. One such figure who recurs repeatedly in our story is Leo Amery. It was said of him that had he been half a head taller, and his speeches half an hour shorter, he could have been Prime Minister.28 As it was, he ended up — after some vicissitudes in the two men's relations — as Churchill's Secretary of State for India in 1940—45. At the end of the war he was to suffer an appalling personal tragedy when his son was hanged for treason. For our purposes his career forms a useful counterpoint to that of Churchill. Moreover, for decades Amery maintained in his diary that Churchill was 'not really interested in the Empire'.29 In fact, they both shared a strong commitment to the Empire, but that commitment took a very different form for each of them. Other figures that recur in these pages include the Canadian politician W. L. Mackenzie King and the South African J. C. Smuts as well, inescapably, as two key founders of modern India: M. K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Opinion of Churchill in the non-white parts of the Empire is a neglected area of study.30 One insight that emerges from it is that colonial nationalist reactions to him were often far more subtle and nuanced than later criticisms from some individuals within the former Empire might lead one to expect.

Churchill's Empire — the picture he kept in his head and which he relayed in his speeches and writings — was a selective and sometimes superficial construct. This was in part because his direct experience of the Empire was incomplete. He saw much of Canada and the Middle East, and visited East Africa in 1907, but he did not return to India after the 1890s, or to South Africa after 1900, and never visited West Africa, Australia, New Zealand, or Britain's Far Eastern possessions.31 Nevertheless, by the standards of most people at the time, his experience was wide indeed. This book relates how it interacted with other influences — intellectual, social and political — to shape the man that he became. It also shows how he in turn shaped, for good and ill, the world in which we live today.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-12-01:
The continuing fascination with Winston Churchill (at least in the Anglo-American world) has assured a steady flow of books about him--some, like this new work by Toye (Univ. of Exeter, UK), of high quality. It is remarkable that only now has a full-scale scholarly study of Churchill's relationship to the British Empire been written, since his stubborn defense of that empire is one of the best-remembered facts about him. Toye's research is extensive and thorough, and his account more complex and nuanced than the popular image of a John Bullish imperialist. Churchill's positions shifted with time and the demands of office. His core belief was, however, constant: empire was essential to Britain's world power. He accommodated, sometimes unhappily, to the independence of the "white dominions." He showed surprising understanding of Kikuyu grievances in Kenya. However, Churchill was unbending about India (crucial to British power), and his comments about Indians were consistently unpleasant. This book will be uneasy reading for Churchill's ardent admirers, but indispensable henceforth to serious students of his career. Summing Up: Essential. Most levels/libraries. R. A. Callahan emeritus, University of Delaware
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2010-05-24:
Not a conventional biography, this is a probing and thoroughly enjoyable life focusing on the contradictions and dilemmas of Churchill's imperialism. British historian Toye (Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness) stresses that Churchill (1874, i1965), a Victorian aristocrat, assumed white superiority but regularly proclaimed that nonwhites deserved equal rights and, eventually, independence once they discarded their primitive ways and achieved European levels of culture. Few British politicians disagreed, but whites in the colonies furiously defended their superior status; Churchill did not always sympathize but avoided making waves. By the 1930s, his imperialism was no longer mainstream. When Parliament debated Indian self-government, his violent objections angered party leaders as much as his attacks on appeasement of Germany before WWII. He was the apostle of freedom during the war, yet he exempted British colonies from that right, which caused persistent friction with Roosevelt, disorder throughout India, and failed to influence postwar leaders who lacked Churchill's romantic attachment to empire and disposed of it with only modest complaints from the electorate. Even veterans of Churchilliana will find plenty of fresh material, recounted with wit and insight into a man whose values were shaped by an age that no longer existed. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
UK Praise forChurchill's Empire"A dense, forgiving study of the great British leader who was both of his time and flexible enough to transcend it.... Toye considers this enormously complicated subject with admirable equanimity."--Kirkus Reviews"Lord Beaverbrook once said that Churchill had held every opinion on every subject and what Richard Toye demonstrates above all is that his opinions on the British Empire were anything but simple or consistent. . . . Toye traces Churchill's shifts and velleities with impressive skill and erudition, using a vast range of contemporary newspapers to particularly good effect. . . . An important and original book."--Piers Brendon,Literary Review
UK Praise forChurchill's Empire"Lord Beaverbrook once said that Churchill had held every opinion on every subject and what Richard Toye demonstrates above all is that his opinions on the British Empire were anything but simple or consistent. . . . Toye traces Churchill's shifts and velleities with impressive skill and erudition, using a vast range of contemporary newspapers to particularly good effect. . . . An important and original book."--Piers Brendon,Literary Review
Praise forChurchill's Empire"Superb, unsettling new history .... Can these clashing Churchills be reconciled? Do we live, at the same time, in the world he helped to save and the world he helped to trash? Toye, one of Britain's smartest young historians, has tried to pick through these questions dispassionately .... Of course, it's easy to dismiss any criticism of these actions as anachronistic. Didn't everybody in Britain think that way then? One of the most striking findings of Toye's research is that they really didn't: even at the time, Churchill was seen as standing at the most brutal and brutish end of the British imperialist spectrum .... Toye is no Nicholson Baker, the appalling pseudoshy;historian whose recent workHuman Smokepresented Churchill as no different from Hitler. Toye sees all this, clearly and emphatically .... In the end, the words of the great and glorious Churchill who resisted dictatorship overwhelmed the works of the cruel and cramped Churchill who tried to impose it on the world's people of color. Toye teases out these ambiguities beautifully. The fact that we now live at a time where a free and independent India is an emerging superpower in the process of eclipsing Britain, and a grandson of the Kikuyu 'savages' is the most powerful man in the world, is a repudiation of Churchill at his ugliest--and a sweet, unsought victory for Churchill at his best."--Johan Hari,The New York Times Book Review "Indeed, it is not too much to say that the story of Churchill's life is the story of his view, vision, and valiant defense of the British Empire--the duties of empire and the maintenance of empire, the idea of empire and the ideals of empire. So it is surprising that, until Richard Toye took on the task, little has been written in book form about Churchill and the British Empire .... What is not generally or popularly recognized--but rectified by Toye--is that there were many Churchillian views on empire .... Toye argues convincingly that Churchill's views on empire were not a fixed thing--and were not designed simply to enhance Britain's role in the world .... The Empire faded as Churchill's life did. But there was triumph after all, perhaps even a bit of poetry. The glory of them both--Empire and Churchill--survives them both."--David M. Shribman,The Boston Globe "Not a conventional biography, this is a probing and thoroughly enjoyable life focusing on the contradictions and dilemmas of Churchill's imperialism.... Even veterans of Churchilliana will find plenty of fresh material, recounted with wit and insight into a man whose values were shaped by an age that no longer existed."--PW, Starred Review "A dense, forgiving study of the great British leader who was both of his time and flexible enough to transcend it.... Toye considers this enormously complicated subject with admirable equanimity."--Kirkus Reviews "Lord Beaverbrook once said that Churchill had held every opinion on every subject and what Richard Toye demonstrates above all is that his opinions on the British Empire were anything but simple or consistent.... Toye traces Churchill's shifts and velleities with impressive skill and erudition, using a vast range of contemporary newspapers to particularly good effect.... An important and original book."--Piers Brendon,Literary Review"Toye offers a nuanced portrait of Churchill as an imperialist that contradicts some of the simplistic views of him as a reactionary, Colonel Blimp-type character.... This work is a valuable contribution to greater understanding of an historical icon."--Jay Freeman,Booklist "Lucid and engaging.... Toye should be congratulated for steering clear of either
Praise for Churchill''s Empire "Superb, unsettling new history .... Can these clashing Churchills be reconciled? Do we live, at the same time, in the world he helped to save and the world he helped to trash? Toye, one of Britain''s smartest young historian s, has tried to pick through these questions dispassionately .... Of course, it''s easy to dismiss any criticism of these actions as anachronistic. Didn''t everybody in Britain think that way then? One of the most striking findings of Toye''s research is that they really didn''t: even at the time, Churchill was seen as standing at the most brutal and brutish end of the British imperialist spectrum .... Toye is no Nicholson Baker, the appalling pseudo historian whose recent work Human Smokepresented Churchill as no different from Hitler. Toye sees all this, clearly and emphatically .... In the end, the words of the great and glorious Churchill who resisted dictatorship overwhelmed the works of the cruel and cramped Churchill who tried to impose it on the world''s people of color. Toye teases out these ambiguities beautifully. The fact that we now live at a time where a free and independent India is an emerging superpower in the process of eclipsing Britain, and a grandson of the Kikuyu ''savages'' is the most powerful man in the world, is a repudiation of Churchill at his ugliest--and a sweet, unsought victory for Churchill at his best."--Johan Hari, The New York Times Book Review "Indeed, it is not too much to say that the story of Churchill''s life is the story of his view, vision, and valiant defense of the British Empire--the duties of empire and the maintenance of empire, the idea of empire and the ideals of empire. So it is surprising that, until Richard Toye took on the task, little has been written in book form about Churchill and the British Empire .... What is not generally or popularly recognized--but rectified by Toye--is that there were many Churchillian views on empire .... Toye argues convincingly that Churchill''s views on empire were not a fixed thing--and were not designed simply to enhance Britain''s role in the world .... The Empire faded as Churchill''s life did. But there was triumph after all, perhaps even a bit of poetry. The glory of them both--Empire and Churchill--survives them both."--David M. Shribman, The Boston Globe "Not a conventional biography, this is a probing and thoroughly enjoyable life focusing on the contradictions and dilemmas of Churchill''s imperialism.... Even veterans of Churchilliana will find plenty of fresh material, recounted with wit and insight into a man whose values were shaped by an age that no longer existed."-- PW, Starred Review "Toye''s central thesis is that Churchill''s beliefs and actions were less predictable and more nuanced than his rhetoric and conventional wisdom suggest.... This is a carefully researched and exceptionally well-documented book that is a welcome addition to the literature. It is not a traditional biography but more of a study of Churchill''s behavior in a central area of his career. It makes extensive use of government archives, diaries, and secondary sources. The citation of newspaper articles to underscore the broader reaction to Churchill''s actions is especially welcome. It is fascinating reading."--Terry Hartle, The Christian Science Monitor "A dense, forgiving study of the great British leader who was both of his time and flexible enough to transcend it.... Toye considers this enormously complicated subject with admirable equanimity."-- Kirkus Reviews "Lord Beaverbrook once said that Churchill had held every opinion on every subject and what Richard Toye demonstrates above all is that his opinions on the British Empire were anything but simple or consistent.... Toye traces Churchill''s shifts and velleities with impressive skill and erudition, using a vast range of contemporary newspapers to particularly good effect.... An important and original book."--Piers Brendon, Literary Review "Toye offers a nuanced portrait of Churchill as an imperialist that contradicts some of the simplistic views of him as a reactionary, Colonel Blimp-type character.... This work is a valuable contribution to greater understanding of an historical icon."--Jay Freeman, Booklist "Lucid and engaging.... Toye should be congratulated for steering clear of either simple apologia or political correctness. Following reviews, diaries and letters, he recreates the broad spectrum of imperialism at the time and presents Churchill''s drift into die-hard mode as a conscious move of political repositioning.... Churchill lovers will gain a clear sense of the culture and politics that has shaped his imperial outlook. At the same time, they will find a judicious account of the limitations of Churchill''s power.... Rather than yet another biography of Churchill, Toye has given us a thought-provoking, sensitive account of the nerve and muscle of empire."--Frank Trentmann, The Daily Express "There have been numerous studies of various aspects of Churchill''s relationship with the empire, but this is the first attempt at a comprehensive treatment in a single volume. It''s a complex and fascinating story.... What emerges from this densely argued book is that [Churchill''s] support for the empire was not for its own sake but as a means of keeping Britain itself as a factor on the world stage. As it declined, his concept of the commonwealth of English-speaking peoples as a major world force took its place. In the end, perhaps his greatest achievement was to accept the empire''s fall and dress it up as victory."--David Stafford, BBC History Magazine "Winston Churchill''s reputation as a hardline imperialist is questioned here.... This detailed, engaging biography dwells on the dichotomy between Churchill pre- and post-second world war: between a time he was considered almost a danger to the empire, and a time he was considered its saviour."--Emmanuelle Smith, Financial Times "An impressive new study.... This fascinating book shows how, during the second half of his career, that [die-hard] image came to replace the earlier picture where he appeared as a conciliatory figure--and even as a danger to the Empire he cherished and used against threats to Britain."--John Hinton, The Catholic Herald "The Churchill we salute as a lover of freedom and hater of tyranny muttered about kaffirs and blackamoors, and bore a lifelong commitment to subjecting swathes of the world to unwelcome British rule. How so? For answers, we may turn to Richard Toye''s excellent new book.... Toye presents Churchill as a complex, flexible, and ultimately a moral imperial thinker."--Dan Jones, The Spectator "Anyone with an interest in 20th-century history or in Churchill will find much that is surprising in this meticulously researched book, which is nevertheless written with great style and clarity."--Susan Hill, The Lady
Praise forChurchill's Empire"Not a conventional biography, this is a probing and thoroughly enjoyable life focusing on the contradictions and dilemmas of Churchill's imperialism.... Even veterans of Churchilliana will find plenty of fresh material, recounted with wit and insight into a man whose values were shaped by an age that no longer existed."--PW, Starred Review "A dense, forgiving study of the great British leader who was both of his time and flexible enough to transcend it.... Toye considers this enormously complicated subject with admirable equanimity."--Kirkus Reviews "Lord Beaverbrook once said that Churchill had held every opinion on every subject and what Richard Toye demonstrates above all is that his opinions on the British Empire were anything but simple or consistent.... Toye traces Churchill's shifts and velleities with impressive skill and erudition, using a vast range of contemporary newspapers to particularly good effect.... An important and original book."--Piers Brendon,Literary Review "Lucid and engaging.... Toye should be congratulated for steering clear of either simple apologia or political correctness. Following reviews, diaries and letters, he recreates the broad spectrum of imperialism at the time and presents Churchill's drift into die-hard mode as a conscious move of political repositioning.... Churchill lovers will gain a clear sense of the culture and politics that has shaped his imperial outlook. At the same time, they will find a judicious account of the limitations of Churchill's power.... Rather than yet another biography of Churchill, Toye has given us a thought-provoking, sensitive account of the nerve and muscle of empire."--Frank Trentmann,The Daily Express "There have been numerous studies of various aspects of Churchill's relationship with the empire, but this is the first attempt at a comprehensive treatment in a single volume. It's a complex and fascinating story.... What emerges from this densely argued book is that [Churchill's] support for the empire was not for its own sake but as a means of keeping Britain itself as a factor on the world stage. As it declined, his concept of the commonwealth of English-speaking peoples as a major world force took its place. In the end, perhaps his greatest achievement was to accept the empire's fall and dress it up as victory."--David Stafford,BBC History Magazine "Winston Churchill's reputation as a hardline imperialist is questioned here.... This detailed, engaging biography dwells on the dichotomy between Churchill pre- and post-second world war: between a time he was considered almost a danger to the empire, and a time he was considered its saviour."--Emmanuelle Smith,Financial Times "An impressive new study.... This fascinating book shows how, during the second half of his career, that [die-hard] image came to replace the earlier picture where he appeared as a conciliatory figure--and even as a danger to the Empire he cherished and used against threats to Britain."--John Hinton,The Catholic Herald "The Churchill we salute as a lover of freedom and hater of tyranny muttered about kaffirs and blackamoors, and bore a lifelong commitment to subjecting swathes of the world to unwelcome British rule. How so? For answers, we may turn to Richard Toye's excellent new book.... Toye presents Churchill as a complex, flexible, and ultimately a moral imperial thinker."--Dan Jones,The Spectator "Anyone with an interest in 20th-century history or in Churchill will find much that is surprising in this meticulously researched book, which is nevertheless written with great style and clari
Praise forChurchill's Empire"A dense, forgiving study of the great British leader who was both of his time and flexible enough to transcend it.... Toye considers this enormously complicated subject with admirable equanimity."--Kirkus Reviews "Lord Beaverbrook once said that Churchill had held every opinion on every subject and what Richard Toye demonstrates above all is that his opinions on the British Empire were anything but simple or consistent.... Toye traces Churchill's shifts and velleities with impressive skill and erudition, using a vast range of contemporary newspapers to particularly good effect.... An important and original book."--Piers Brendon,Literary Review "Lucid and engaging.... Toye should be congratulated for steering clear of either simple apologia or political correctness. Following reviews, diaries and letters, he recreates the broad spectrum of imperialism at the time and presents Churchill's drift into die-hard mode as a conscious move of political repositioning.... Churchill lovers will gain a clear sense of the culture and politics that has shaped his imperial outlook. At the same time, they will find a judicious account of the limitations of Churchill's power.... Rather than yet another biography of Churchill, Toye has given us a thought-provoking, sensitive account of the nerve and muscle of empire."--Frank Trentmann,The Daily Express "There have been numerous studies of various aspects of Churchill's relationship with the empire, but this is the first attempt at a comprehensive treatment in a single volume. It's a complex and fascinating story.... What emerges from this densely argued book is that [Churchill's] support for the empire was not for its own sake but as a means of keeping Britain itself as a factor on the world stage. As it declined, his concept of the commonwealth of English-speaking peoples as a major world force took its place. In the end, perhaps his greatest achievement was to accept the empire's fall and dress it up as victory."--David Stafford,BBC History Magazine "Winston Churchill's reputation as a hardline imperialist is questioned here.... This detailed, engaging biography dwells on the dichotomy between Churchill pre- and post-second world war: between a time he was considered almost a danger to the empire, and a time he was considered its saviour."--Emmanuelle Smith,Financial Times "An impressive new study.... This fascinating book shows how, during the second half of his career, that [die-hard] image came to replace the earlier picture where he appeared as a conciliatory figure--and even as a danger to the Empire he cherished and used against threats to Britain."--John Hinton,The Catholic Herald "The Churchill we salute as a lover of freedom and hater of tyranny muttered about kaffirs and blackamoors, and bore a lifelong commitment to subjecting swathes of the world to unwelcome British rule. How so? For answers, we may turn to Richard Toye's excellent new book.... Toye presents Churchill as a complex, flexible, and ultimately a moral imperial thinker."--Dan Jones,The Spectator "Anyone with an interest in 20th-century history or in Churchill will find much that is surprising in this meticulously researched book, which is nevertheless written with great style and clarity."--Susan Hill,The Lady
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, May 2010
Booklist, July 2010
Boston Globe, August 2010
New York Times Book Review, August 2010
New York Times Full Text Review, August 2010
Choice, December 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
The imperial aspect of Churchill's career tends to be airbrushed out, while the battles against Nazism are heavily foregrounded. A charmer and a bully, Winston Churchill was driven by a belief that the English were a superior race, whose goals went beyond individual interests to offer an enduring good to the entire world. No better example exists than Churchill's resolve to stand alone against a more powerful Hitler in 1940 while the world's democracies fell to their knees. But there is also the Churchill who frequently inveighed against human rights, nationalism, and constitutional progressthe imperialist who could celebrate racism and believed India was unsuited to democracy. Drawing on newly released documents and an uncanny ability to separate the facts from the overblown reputation (by mid-career Churchill had become a global brand), Richard Toye provides the first comprehensive analysis of Churchill's relationship with the empire. Instead of locating Churchill's position on a simple left/right spectrum, Toye demonstrates how the statesman evolved and challenges the reader to understand his need to reconcile the demands of conscience with those of political conformity.
Main Description
The imperial aspect of Churchill's career tends to be airbrushed out, while the battles against Nazism are heavily foregrounded - A charmer and a bully, Winston Churchill was driven by a belief that the English were a superior race, whose goals went beyond individual interests to offer an enduring good to the entire world. No better example exists than Churchill's resolve to stand alone against a more powerful Hitler in 1940 while the world's democracies fell to their knees. But there is also the Churchill who frequently inveighed against human rights, nationalism, and constitutional progress; the imperialist who could celebrate racism and believed India was unsuited to democracy. Drawing on newly released documents and an uncanny ability to separate the facts from the overblown reputation (by mid-career Churchill had become a global brand), Richard Toye provides the first comprehensive analysis of Churchill's relationship with the empire. Instead of locating Churchill's position on a simple left/right spectrum, Toye demonstrates how the statesman evolved and challenges the reader to understand his need to reconcile the demands of conscience with those of political conformity.
Table of Contents
Prologuep. vii
Rationalism and Machine Guns
Learning to Think Imperially, 1874-1897p. 3
Jolly Little Wars Against Barbarous Peoples, 1897-1899p. 35
A Convenient Way of Seeing the Empire, 1899-1901p. 61
Divide et Impera!
That Wild Winston, 1901-1908p. 89
The Fate of an Empire, 1908-1922p. 122
Diehard, 1922-1939p. 162
Liquidation
Undismayed Against Disaster, 1939-1942p. 195
Hands Off the British Empire, 1942-1945p. 233
Once Magnificent and Still Considerable, 1945-1955p. 263
Epiloguep. 303
Notesp. 370
Bibliographyp. 385
Indexp. 409
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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