On January 24th, 1965, a world giant passed away. Winston Churchill, best known for shepherding Britain through World War II, died from complications of a stroke. The giant–known for his rhetoric, his writing, his leadership, and his face–is one of less than 10 people evergranted honorary citizenship to the United States, so that’s something to talk about, right?

As U.S. citizens–honorary or otherwise–our education on Winston Churchill primarily came from APUSH or European History classes–anything that focused on the mid-20th century–but it certainly wasn’t effusive. It didn’t cover Churchill beyond who he was in relation to the other world powers, but he is certainly an interesting character. There’s so much we as conservatives can learn from and about Winston Churchill and the way he impacted the world. 

These seven books are a great place to start. 

Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts

When we seek an example of great leaders with unalloyed courage, the person who comes to mind is Winston Churchill: the iconic, visionary war leader immune from the consensus of the day, who stood firmly for his beliefs when everyone doubted him. But how did young Winston become Churchill? What gave him the strength to take on the superior force of Nazi Germany when bombs rained on London and so many others had caved? In Churchill, Andrew Roberts gives readers the full and definitive Winston Churchill, from birth to lasting legacy, as personally revealing as it is compulsively readable. Roberts gained exclusive access to extensive new material: transcripts of War Cabinet meetings, diaries, letters and unpublished memoirs from Churchill’s contemporaries. The Royal Family permitted Roberts–in a first for a Churchill biographer–to read the detailed notes taken by King George VI in his diary after his weekly meetings with Churchill during World War II. This treasure trove of access allows Roberts to understand the man in revelatory new ways, and to identify the hidden forces fueling Churchill’s legendary drive.

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally—and willing to fight to the end. In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turns in the hardest moments.

Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell

Late in life, Winston Churchill claimed that victory in the Second World War would have been “impossible” without the woman who stood by his side for fifty-seven turbulent years. Why, then, do we know so little about her? In this landmark biography, a finalist for the Plutarch prize, Sonia Purnell finally gives Clementine Churchill her due. Born into impecunious aristocracy, the young Clementine Hozier was the target of cruel snobbery. Many wondered why Winston married her, when the prime minister’s daughter was desperate for his attention. Yet their marriage proved to be an exceptional partnership. “You know,”Winston confided to FDR, “I tell Clemmie everything.” Through the ups and downs of his tumultuous career, in the tense days when he stood against Chamberlain and the many months when he helped inspire his fellow countrymen and women to keep strong and carry on, Clementine made her husband’s career her mission, at the expense of her family, her health and, fatefully, of her children.

The Last Lion by William Manchester

Born at the end of the 19th century when Imperial Britain still stood at the splendid pinnacle of her power, Churchill would witness the shift a few years later as the Empire hovered on the brink of a catastrophic new era. One of the greatest wartime leaders of our time, he would go on to stand alone, politically isolated in Parliament, as he took the lead in warning of the growing Nazi threat, and would lead Britain to victory against Nazi Germany and the Axis powers in World War II. Now, celebrated historian William Manchester’s landmark biographies are collected together for the first time, along with the eagerly anticipated final installment Churchill’s last years in power. More than thirty years in the making, The Last Lion is the definitive work on this remarkable man whose courageous vision guided the destiny of a nation during darkly troubled times-and who looms as one of the greatest figures of our century.

Never Give In: The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches by Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was the most eloquent and expressive statesman of his time. It was as an orator that Churchill became most completely alive, and it was through his oratory that his words made their greatest and most enduring impact. While the definitive collection of Churchill’s speeches fills eight volumes, here for the first time, his grandson, Winston S. Churchill, has put together a personal selection of his favorite speeches in a single, indispensable volume. He has chosen from his grandfather’s entire output and thoughtfully introduces each selection. The book covers the whole of Churchill’s life, from the very first speech he made to those of his last days. It includes some of Churchill’s best-known speeches as well as some that have never before been published in popular form. Today, Sir Winston Churchill is revered as an indomitable figure and his wisdom is called upon again and again. Reading these speeches, from the perspective of a new century, we can once again see Sir Winston Churchill’s genius and be moved and inspired by his words.

Working with Winston by Cita Stelzer

All politicians adopt a public persona that they believe contributes to electoral success. Though they might reflect the character of the politician, they reveal only a part of the man. What we know less about are the characteristics that Winston Churchill revealed when he was out of the public eye. Much has been written about Churchill, and of the important world leaders, politicians, high-ranking military personnel with whom he interacted.  But Churchill also required a vast staff to maintain the intense pace at which he worked. When Churchill strode the world stage, the secretarial and support staff positions were inevitably filled by women.  Though extraordinarily talented and valuable to Churchill and his work, these women remain unheralded. He was not an easy employer. He was intimidating, with never-ending demands who would impose his relentless and demanding schedules on those around him.  And yet these women were devoted to him, though there were times in his political career in which he was decidedly unpopular.  Many reflect upon their years working for him as the best years of their lives.A treasure trove of insight and research, Working with Winston reveals the man behind the statesman and as well as brings long-overdue recognition to the “hidden army” that, like Churchill, was never off-duty.

The Daughters of Yalta by Catherine Grace Katz

Tensions during the Yalta Conference in February 1945 threatened to tear apart the wartime alliance among Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin just as victory was close at hand. Catherine Grace Katz uncovers the dramatic story of the three young women who were chosen by their fathers to travel with them to Yalta, each bound by fierce family loyalty, political savvy, and intertwined romances that powerfully colored these crucial days. Kathleen Harriman was a champion skier, war correspondent, and daughter of U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Averell Harriman. Sarah Churchill, an actress-turned-RAF officer, was devoted to her brilliant father, who depended on her astute political mind. Roosevelt’s only daughter, Anna, chosen instead of her mother Eleanor to accompany the president to Yalta, arrived there as keeper of her father’s most damaging secrets. Situated in the political maelstrom that marked the transition to a post- war world, The Daughters of Yalta is a remarkable story of fathers and daughters whose relationships were tested and strengthened by the history they witnessed and the future they crafted together.

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Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member