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Finest Hour

Finest Hour

Second Quarter 2020

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest statesmen in world history – widely revered, sometime reviled and universally recognized for his tenacious leadership. Finest Hour, the Journal of Winston Churchill, is the flagship publication of The Churchill Centre. Each quarterly issue is packed with expert analysis and insightful discussion from prominent authors, historians, and journalists on all aspects of Churchill’s life and times. Finest Hour dispels the myths, explores the rousing speeches, and reviews the most interesting books, all thoughtfully written, thoroughly researched, and presented by a team of experts. Your digital Finest Hour subscription also includes membership in The Churchill Centre. As part of your digital membership you receive full access to all of our premium website content, a free subscription to the monthly email newsletter of Winston Churchill, Chartwell Bulletin, discounts to Churchill sites in Britain, and invitations to special events.

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i denne utgaven

2 min.
from the editor

Churchill's Prime Ministers This issue commemorates the eightieth anniversary of Winston Churchill becoming prime minister in May 1940. Already the beleaguered year of 2020 has shown that Churchill remains the gold standard for crisis leadership. As political leaders around the world have struggled to meet the challenges created by a global pandemic, observers have measured their actions against Churchill’s example. Churchill served under five different prime ministers, and five future prime ministers served under him. It is some measure of Churchill’s career that these men came from three different parties: Liberal, Labour, and Conservative. In this issue we look at each man’s Churchillian connections, and we are honored to start with a foreword by David Cameron. Churchill received his first government appointment from Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. Fred Glueckstein introduces us to the Edwardian…

1 min.

Finest Hour 187 ALEXANDRIA, VA—Your fascinating story about the ninth Duke of Marlborough did not take the opportunity to discuss Consuelo Vanderbilt’s very unusual mother. Alva Vanderbilt was married to a grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt and spent her husband’s wealth with great pleasure. She aspired to be accepted into the elite “400” in New York City, and to displace Caroline Astor as the reputed head of the group. Toward that end, she had her husband build a fabulous mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, called Marble House and held sumptuous parties there and in New York. She eventually divorced him and married Newport neighbor Oliver Belmont, son of August Belmont of the international banking empire. Needless to say, she was quite wealthy. What was amazing about Alva’s career was her transformation into a militant…

3 min.

"The question is: what are the characteristics and features that make the great man so inspirational and so relevant?" As a Prime Minister living and working in Downing Street, you constantly feel the presence of Winston Churchill. His leather armchair meets you as you walk into the building. His portraits glare at you from the walls of the famous staircase. You take your place at the Cabinet table where he sat during the most vital moment in our country’s history, May 1940, when ministers debated whether to fight on against Hitler. But stronger than the physical reminders of Churchill are the reminders of his legacy. It is a legacy that pervades not just No. 10 but our politics; not just our country but our world. And it inspires not just postwar Prime…

8 min.
cb & wsc

On 18 February 1901, Winston Churchill, a member of the Conservative Party, gave his maiden speech in the House of Commons. Churchill presented his views and recommendations concerning the state of affairs in South Africa. The speech was widely recognized as a success, and Churchill received many congratulatory letters. One was from the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who had been unanimously elected in February 1899 as the Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons. The letter to Churchill read: “I hope you will allow me to say with how much pleasure I listened to your speech.”1 Three years later, in 1904, Churchill crossed the floor of the House to join the Liberals as a supporter of free trade, a policy the Conservatives were abandoning. On 13…

15 min.
“the last of the romans” herbert henry asquith

Next to the monarch who lent his name to the Edwardian era, H. H. Asquith (1852–1928) was its chief representative.1 The period is bathed in the nostalgic afterglow of a late-summer afternoon, but underneath its sedate surface this was a time of searing political and social conflicts. And then there was the war that ended the era, and in which modern Britain began. It fell to Asquith to deal with these challenges. It was he who promoted Winston Churchill to the Cabinet and under whom Churchill served the longest. Asquith “was a man who knew where he stood on every question of life and affairs in altogether unusual degree....He always gave the impression...of measuring all the changing, baffling situations... according to settled standards and sure convictions.”2 Twenty-two years Churchill’s senior, Asquith belonged…

12 min.
twin titans

During his years in the Liberal party from 1904 to 1923, Winston Churchill served under three prime ministers. The third of these was unique. For unlike his relationships with Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and H. H. Asquith, towards David Lloyd George, Churchill was almost in awe. Robert Boothby, who served as Churchill’s Parliamentary Private Secretary when Churchill was Chancellor of the Exchequer, told a famous story in his memoirs about a meeting between the two great war leaders that took place in the 1920s. The old relationship, Churchill told Boothby ruefully, was quickly restored, “the relationship between Master and Servant. And I was the Servant.”1 Of course, Lloyd George was eleven years older than Churchill. He entered parliament in 1890, while Churchill was still a schoolboy at Harrow, and was first appointed…