Winston Churchill’s life defies attempts to fit it between hardcovers. His son Randolph tried it first, completed two volumes, but only got his father to the outbreak of the First World War. That was completed brilliantly by Martin Gilbert, but it took another six volumes to get him all the way to 1965. Roy Jenkins’s one-volume life is excellent in its way, but it treated cursorily or left out a great deal, and the book still ran to an unwieldy thousand pages. William Manchester published the first two of his planned three-volume life, The Last Lion, but the third volume was only published in 2012 by another author, Paul Reid, Manchester having given up and died.

Better, perhaps, to approach the great man’s life through partial perspectives. There is The Fringes of Power


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