In This Review

Winston Churchill. Vol. Viii: "Never Despair," 1945-1965
Winston Churchill. Vol. Viii: "Never Despair," 1945-1965
By Martin Gilbert
Houghton Mifflin, 1988, 1437 pp.

A meticulously detailed and annotated account of Churchill's declining years, the eighth and final volume of a contemporary classic. Politics were still at the center of Churchill's life, whether in office or out; hence this is a record of great historical importance. Churchill clung to his passionate belief in the special Anglo-American relationship: at the same time, he always favored talks with the Soviets, especially after Stalin's death, hoping to dampen, perhaps end, the cold war. A titanic figure, with a consuming sense of history, whether in the making or the writing of it. The book is filled with Churchill correspondence, perhaps a trifle too much. Martin Gilbert, the official biographer, is to be congratulated. Blessed with an incomparable subject, he too persevered and his work exemplified what Churchill knew: history is part drama, and its reconstruction requires literary felicity.

Shortly after the death of Churchill, Lord Chandos recalled his magnanimity and added, in words that the Great Republic could ponder at this season: "The only people he never forgave were those who, in the words he so often used, 'fell beneath the level of events.'"