Apr. 10—Andrew Roberts' "Churchill: Walking with Destiny" is as insightful, educational, entertaining, amusing and as enthralling as it is massive in its nearly 1,000 pages in scope.
In other words, as a one-volume biography, it lives up to its namesake.
Winston Churchill lived an extraordinary life. He wrote numerous books and won the Nobel Prize for literature. He was a politician throughout his adult life. He served simultaneously as a soldier, politician and journalist as a young man. And he is considered the greatest British prime minister for his lone stand against Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany during World War II.
Roberts explores these aspects and more of Churchill's life but the true mission of the biography can be gleaned from its subtitle "Walking with Destiny."
Roberts packs his numerous chapters into two massive sections. "The Preparation" follows Churchill from his ancestry, childhood, his youth, adulthood, careers, etc., throughout the paths of his days and years until he is a man in his mid-60s, once shunned, who becomes prime minister as Hitler is devouring Europe.
"The Preparation" isn't just biography, it is the story of how Churchill's experiences prepared him for the role of not only a lifetime but the life of a nation and the world as prime minister. As a teen, Churchill predicted he would in his later years have to save Britain from an all-encompassing doom. And, as Roberts charts it, his life prepared him for that struggle.
"The Trial" is the second part, focusing on Churchill meeting that destiny. The prime minister who not only defied Hitler but fought him, while anxiously waiting for the United States to enter the war, for Germany to betray Russia, etc.
Roberts reveals Churchill as a man of his time and a man who believed in the British Empire. Roberts does not ignore Churchill's shortcomings nor does he apologize for them but he does explain them in the light of the era.
Roberts also mines new insights from more recently released archives, journals, etc.
Roberts' "Churchill" is masterful and majestic. Writing a book to prove a person walks with destiny seems far-fetched, but given the life of Churchill in the hands of Roberts, it seems the fates truly aligned behind this one man at this particular moment in history.