Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The World Crisis 1911-18: Part One 1911-1914 by Winston Churchill

After Churchill killed Hitler, the ungrateful people of Britain immediately voted him out office. What did he do next? Sulk like a girl? Never! Publish a self-serving memoir? Well, kind of. He wrote a massive six volume history of the Second World War. He praised Clement Attlee to the skies, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and Nazi-spanking and was returned to power. Always a class act.

This wasn't out of character for him. Back in the thirties, he wrote a massive four volume history of the First World War. Despite not killing the Kaiser personally, Churchill certainly wasn't lazing about during the conflict. He started off in charge of the Navy, instigated the disastrous Gallipoli campaign which Mel Gibson got so annoyed about, resigned from Government then fought in the trenches. Oh, and he invented tanks. Again, a class act.

But you don't get most of that juicy stuff in volume one. It didn't help that the first cd was scratched to buggery. It mostly covers the build up and early mobilisation, with big emphasis on the naval side of things. When he's talking about his own experiences, he's electrifying. Attending a jolly naval regatta between Britain and Germany as they get the news that the Archduke Ferdinand has been assassinated; visiting the front line in the first months of the war and watching the man next to him geting killed by shrapnel; his growing friendship with noted YOU-needer Lord Kitchener, despite him having refused to let Churchill fight in his regiment in the Sudan years before because he'd heard what a headbanger he was. All amazing stuff.

But, while Winston understood the great sweeps of history, he was primarily a details main. Which makes big chunks of this as boring as hell, with big lists of ships and regimiments and fifteen point memos about....actually I was never quite sure. I drifted off a lot, and never listened to the last cd. Since it's Churchill, I feel kind of bad.

Quick props to the narrator Christian Rodska who does a good accent without going all over the top and cigary.

Final fantastic Churchill fact. He built walls. For fun.

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