Churchill and Orwell

Churchill and Orwell

The Fight for Freedom

Book - 2017
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A "dual biography of Winston Churchill and George Orwell, with a focus on the pivotal years from the mid-1930s through the 1940s, when their farsighted vision and inspired action in the face of the threat of fascism and communism helped preserve democracy for the world"--
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2017
Copyright Date: ♭2017
ISBN: 9781594206139
Branch Call Number: B C4758R 2017
Characteristics: 339 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Nov 24, 2017

Churchill and Orwell; an interesting comparison of two very interesting lives - their times, their vastly different backgrounds, their common fight for freedom, and their foreboding about the future - their future that is our present!
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Ricks is a recognised authority on (American) national security and foreign affairs. I found his writing informative and lucid, valuable traits when dealing with what could have been a very heavy subject.
The book does not shirk from identifying the character weaknesses in the protagonists, but treats them respectfully in balance with their great qualities. With all their human failings, they were passionate in facing totalitarian tyranny (Churchill to the Nazis and Orwell to the Spanish fascists and the Russian communists alike.)
Orwell, a socialist, upset other socialists with his frank portrayal of some of them as “faddish cranks” who pretended to be championing a better life for the poor but didn’t have a clue about what the poor really suffered. Orwell did. He lived among them for lengthy periods to experience for himself the lifestyle of the oppressed, unemployed, underpaid in both Britain and France, and wrote essays about it to inform others (“The Road to Wigan Pier”, “Down and Out in Paris”).
Though Orwell despised the British ruling class - “Whether the British ruling class are wicked or merely stupid is one of the most difficult questions of our time …”- he admired Churchill as different in some ways from his peers. He even named his hero Winston in his prophetic novel “1984”. A quote from his diary on April 28, 1941: “- with individual exceptions like Churchill, the entire British aristocracy is utterly corrupt and lacking in the most ordinary patriotism”.
Churchill was certainly born “with a silver spoon in his mouth”, but he advocated strongly for the “common” people to be recognised for their great contribution to the war effort when others of his class saw them only as cannon fodder. While Prime Minister, he sometimes slipped away from his minders, such as the time he got “lost” on a naval ship and was found in the engine room having tea and swapping yarns with the men there.
This book is both history and biography - aren’t all biographies histories? - and as such opens a window on British life in the 1930s and 40s in particular. Orwell (1903 - 1950) and Churchill (1874 - 1965) were both influential writers, passionate campaigners for freedom of thought as a necessary prerequisite for any other freedom to which nations and individuals alike might aspire. Their writings and speeches give insight to the minds of these great men and their times
A good read and a good springboard for research and further reading.

winston1 Sep 24, 2017

I found this book to be very informative. It could get a bit tedious at times but was so full of background material about Churchill and Orwell that I never knew about like Orwell intending Animal Farm as primarily a satire on the Russian Revolution. What Orwell and Churchill had in common was the issue of human freedom and moral conviction as evidenced in Churchill's role in the defeat of Hitler and Orwell's through showing the menace of authoritarian rule in Animal Farm and 1984.


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