Marlborough: His Life and Times

In This Review

Marlborough: His Life and Times

By Winston S. Churchill
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933
62,561 pp.
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Nominally a work about an eighteenth-century soldier, this is in fact a sustained meditation on statecraft and war by the greatest war leader of our time. Churchill's reflections on the perplexities of alliances, the paradoxes of strategy, and the stresses of combat are timeless. Perhaps most striking is his insistence on the limits of human foresight and the intractability of coalition relationships -- a feature of this work that attracted the warm admiration of one of the first contemporary students of management, Peter Drucker. His literary art is evident throughout; he also supervised closely the drawing of the set's numerous magnificent maps. Written during the 1930s, the six volumes reflect hard-bought wisdom distilled from experience and sustained research. Reading the work, it does not seem surprising that the author, a few years later, would lead Great Britain and, in some measure, the entire democratic world safely through the greatest storm of the century.