The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History By Boris Johnson

From London’s inimitable mayor, Boris Johnson, the story of how Churchill’s eccentric genius shaped not only his world but our own.
On the fiftieth anniversary of Churchill’s death, Boris Johnson celebrates the singular brilliance of one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century. Taking on the myths and misconceptions along with the outsized reality, he portrays—with characteristic wit and passion—a man of contagious bravery, breathtaking eloquence, matchless strategizing, and deep humanity.
Fearless on the battlefield, Churchill had to be ordered by the king to stay out of action on D-Day; he pioneered aerial bombing and few could match his experience in organizing violence on a colossal scale,  yet he hated war and scorned politicians who had not experienced its horrors. He was the most famous journalist of his time and perhaps the greatest orator of all time, despite a lisp and chronic depression he kept at bay by painting. His maneuvering positioned America for entry into World War II, even as it ushered in England’s post-war decline. His openmindedness made him a trailblazer in health care, education, and social welfare, though he remained incorrigibly politically incorrect. Most of all, he was a rebuttal to the idea that history is the story of vast and impersonal forces; he is proof that one person—intrepid, ingenious, determined—can make all the difference. The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History

Probably my favourite work of Pop History so far. Reading this book felt like being Boris Johnson's guest in his study on Downing Street 10, telling me the story of Churchill's life over a glass of brandy. And of course Boris wouldn't be Boris if he didn't crack jokes in between and showed off his Etonian command of the English language while doing so.

One of the few books that's able to tell you the amazing life story of one of history's greatest men, while at the same time not letting you keep a straight face for 355 pages straight. Politics, Humor, History Раджу, бо розповідь про Черчилля - прекрасна! Politics, Humor, History Blood, toil, tears and sweat...

Winston Churchill needs no introduction and, in the UK, nor does Boris Johnson, but perhaps he does elsewhere. Boris is one of those few people who are known to all by their first names – if you mention Boris over here, everyone will assume that it's this Boris you mean unless you specify otherwise. A leading light in the Conservative Party, he has been the Mayor of London for the last six years and is strongly tipped in many quarters to be a future leader of the Party and possibly a future Prime Minister. This is pretty spectacular for a man who is best known for being exceptionally funny on panel games, having a silly hairstyle and being an upper-class buffoon who would fit in well in the Drones Club. But that public persona doesn't quite hide the other facts about Boris, that he is a highly intelligent, extremely knowledgeable and articulate man, whose political ambitions reach to the very top. Prior to going into active politics he was a political journalist and editor so he knows how to write entertainingly and engagingly. You may already have guessed that I have a huge soft spot for Boris – it's just unfortunate he's as right-wing as Mrs Thatcher. But it's that ability to camouflage his views under his larger-than life personality that enables him to attract voters who wouldn't normally vote for his party.

As for his amazing achievement in winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, it is conventional to treat this as a joke, an embarrassing attempt by the Swedes to make up for their neutrality in the war. Even relatively sympathetic historians such as Peter Clarke have dismissed the possibility that there was any merit involved. “Rarely can an author’s writings have received less attention than the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953,” he says. This is not just a little bit snooty, but surely untrue. Look at the list of Nobel winners in the last century – avant-garde Japanese playwrights, Marxist-Feminist Latin Americans, Polish exponents of the Concrete Poem. All of them are no doubt meritorious in their way but many of them are much less read than Churchill.

In this book, Boris sets out to try to discover what made Churchill into the man who is considered to have been crucial in the British war effort. He does this with his usual panache, making the book hugely enjoyable and filled with humour, which doesn't disguise the massive amount of research and knowledge that has clearly gone into it. He makes it crystal clear that he admires Churchill intensely and, because he's so open about it, his bias in the great man's favour comes over as wholly endearing. In fact, this reader couldn't help feeling that Boris sees Churchill as something of a role model, and that his desire to understand how Churchill achieved all that he did is partly so that Boris can emulate him – hopefully not by becoming a great leader in another World War though! (Though I suspect Boris might be a little sorry he missed the last one...)

In each chapter, Boris looks at one aspect of Churchill's life – his childhood, his writing, his early army career in the Boer War, etc. – and analyses it to see what we can draw from it in terms of what made Churchill tick. Over the years, Churchill has had as many detractors as admirers, and Boris takes their criticisms of him head on, dismissing them with his usual mix of bluster and brilliance. That's not to say he brushes over the big mistakes in Churchill's career, but he puts them into context and finds that he consistently acted in accordance with his own convictions. (If only we could say that about many of today's politicians.) This didn't always make him popular but, had popularity been his main aim, he probably wouldn't have stood out so strongly against coming to some accommodation with Nazi Germany at the point where Britain stood isolated and close to defeat. Boris makes it clear that he believes that it was Churchill, and Churchill alone, who carried the argument in the Government for Britain to fight on, and who was crucial in persuading the US to finally become involved.
…if he was exhausting to work for, his colleagues nonetheless gave him loyalty and unstinting devotion. When he came back from New York in 1932 after nearly dying under the wheels of an on-coming car, he was presented with a Daimler. The Daimler had been organised by Brendan Bracken and financed by a whip-round of 140 friends and admirers. Can you think of any modern British politician with enough friends and admirers to get them a new Nissan Micra, let alone a Daimler?

Although there is a considerable amount in the book about WW2, as you would expect, there is just as much about Churchill's achievements and failures both before and after. In a political career that stretched for over 60 years, he was involved to one degree or another in all of the major events in the UK, and indeed the world, from the 1900s to the 1960s – the Boer War, WW1, the establishment of Israel, the abdication of Edward VIII, the decline of the British Empire, the rise of the Soviet Union, the formation of the Common Market (now European Union). Boris shows how he was often at first a lone voice, perceptive through his deep understanding of history and politics, with other people dismissing him until he was proved right (or occasionally wrong). He also shows how Churchill was capable of changing his mind over time and admitting to it – for example, over women, where their contribution to the war effort persuaded him they should be entitled to rights he had previously argued against. A conviction politician certainly, but not hog-tied by it.

There's so much in the book that I've missed out far more than I've included – Churchill's writing, art, speech-making, personal bravery, etc., etc. It is however a surprisingly compact read considering the ground it covers. It's not a full biography – it doesn't set out to be. Boris has selected those events and episodes that he feels cast most light on the character of the man and what formed it – the Churchill Factor, as he calls it. It's brilliantly written, as entertaining as it is insightful and informative, and I feel it casts nearly as much light on the character of the author as the subject. For anyone who still thinks Boris is the buffoon he plays so well, this might come as a real eye-opener. And for those of us who already know that, like the iceberg, the important bit of Boris is the bit you rarely see, this reminds us that we better decide soon if we really want to buy tickets for the Titanic.
There are Churchill nightclubs and bars and pubs – about twenty pubs in Britain bear his name and puglike visage, far more than bear the name of any other contemporary figure. Sometimes it is easy to understand the semiotic function of the name – you can see why a pub-owner might want to go for Churchill. He is the world’s greatest advertisement for the benefits of alcohol. But why is there a Churchill Escort Agency? And what do they offer, apart from blood, toil, tears and sweat?

As if two huge personalities aren't enough for one book, I listened to the Audible audiobook version, which is beautifully narrated by actor Simon Shepherd, who has one of the loveliest voices known to man (or woman) and the perfect rather plummy accent for this kind of book. It's a great narration that does full justice to the book – held my attention throughout, which doesn't always happen with audiobooks. In fact, I found myself frequently doing that 'just one more chapter' thing which normally only happens with the written word. Going to bed each night with Winston, Boris and Simon has been a lot more fun than you might imagine...

NB This audiobook was provided for review by Audible UK. Politics, Humor, History Щоб зрозуміти чому Борис Джонсон так підтримує Україну, варто прочитати про його role model - Вінсотона Черчиля Politics, Humor, History I'm only giving this book 4 stars as it doesn't mention the famine in Bangladesh during the Second World War for which Churchill was blamed. Apparently it was his idea to divert grain supplies destined for Bangladesh to British soldiers fighting in the Far East.
I'm not a big fan of Boris Johnson but after seeing Darkest Hour l decided to learn a little bit more about Winston Churchill. He is at least unbiased; listing both his achievements and failures. He paints his character in broad brush strokes. He has his disasters but he also had his ideals. Future governments and politicians were inspired by him.
Like everyone he had enemies but it didn't deter him from what he wanted to do Politics, Humor, History

There’s a point near the end of the book, when talking to a grandson of the great man, that the author summarises Churchill’s achievements.

More published words than Shakespeare and Dickens combined, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature, kills umpteen people in armed combat on four continents, serves in every great office of state including Prime Minister (twice), is indispensable to victory in two world wars and then posthumously sells his paintings for a million dollars.

Not bad!

There’s quite a bit of hero worship in this book – Boris is clearly awe struck by the man – but it’s very hard not to come away thinking how much Churchill packed into his lifetime. Was he the greatest Britain of all time? Well maybe, certainly a poll taken in 2002 concluded he was. But anyway you look at it he was definitely the right man for the right time. I hadn’t realised just how much Churchill was swimming against the tide in opposing Hitler. It seems that there were an awful lot of appeasers about at the time and its absolutely conceivable that, had it not been for the Homburg wearing statesman, we could well have entered into some sort of agreement with Hitler. Who knows what the world would look like now had that been the case!

This is a very personal portrait, painted by Boris. He has a quirky style that worked for me. For instance, in one section he talks about Churchill’s cock-ups and introduces a scoring system to explain how much of a disaster each of the actions truly were (or weren’t) and to what degree Winston was actually responsible. As I found in the rest of the book, he tends to err on the side of his hero but it was a great way of providing a fresh perspective on these events. For information the list includes:

- The disastrous Gallipoli campaign
- His opposition to increased home rule in India
- Returning Sterling to the Gold Standard
- His resistance to the abdication of Edward VIII

There were lots of personal facts about Churchill of which I was hitherto unaware. For instance, by all accounts he had an enormous vocabulary, he showed tremendous personal bravery as both a war correspondent and a soldier and was the standing Prime Minister at the age of 80. The list goes on.

There’s also an interesting comparison between author and subject in that Churchill achieved all he did without a ‘classic’ education; he never attended university. Contrast this with Boris, who lists Eton and Oxford University amongst the outstanding centers of education he’s attended. But the similarities between the two are, perhaps, more striking. Like his hero, Boris served time as a journalist before entering politics, where he is also seen as something of a one-off, a maverick. Both were born into money and it’s perfectly conceivable that Boris could emulate ‘the man’ by becoming leader of the Conservative Party (and thereby quite probably Prime Minister) in the not too distant future.

Overall, I found this to be a fascinating – if rather one-sided – account of the life and achievements of one of the great figures of recent history. If you feel you want to know more about Churchill and want to be entertained at the same time, look no further. Politics, Humor, History I read this in 2014 not knowing anything about Boris Johnson. It's a pretty good book. While I don't agree with BoJo's politics, at least the U.K. will have a leader who has *truly* written a book and who reads. I've resisted the temptation to change my review or my rating.

Portrait Venerating Lionhearted Leader Who Lifted Course of History, Facing Down der Führer Providing a Perfect Contrast to the Leaders of the Free World these days

This book's strongest point is its accessibility on the lengthy and complex history of this legendary world leader. In a clear, conversational tone that overlays an erudite tenor, Johnson measures the near-majesty of a man who played the leading role in stanching the tide of evil threatening 20th Century Europe and from plunging the world into chaos.

I was skeptical that this might be another droning history book. Johnson quickly drew me in though, to what seemed an enthusiastic scholarly chat in a pub, full of good humour. I found it refreshing to read a book on history not written by an academic historian, the like of which has written books that have been used to cure difficult cases of insomnia.

Like Winston Churchill, the author Boris Johnson (nicknamed by some, BoJo) is a former newspaper man and a politician. I think all comparisons hit a brick wall after that. Politics, Humor, History You meet Boris Johnson in the pub for a drink. You mention Churchill and 4 hours later you leave the pub, wondering where the time went. That´s what it feels like to read this book. I learned a lot of facts about Churchill that I didn't know before. I certainly learned more about the impact that Churchill had, not only on British politics and life but also on the rest of the world.

This book is beautifully written and well paced. I absolutely loved it.

NB: 25-06-2016. After seeing Boris Johnson in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, I wouldn't want to have a pint with him anymore. What a pompous arse. The book is still good but I can't stand the writer anymore. Politics, Humor, History Weaker then Lemon tea. Politics, Humor, History If you are looking for a personal, breezy hagiography of Winston Churchill then Boris Johnson’s THE CHURCHILL FACTOR: HOW ONE MAN MADE HISTORY will be of interest. Johnson’s effort is not a traditional biography of the former occupant of 10 Downing Street, but a manifesto imploring the reader to consider the genius and greatness of Churchill. Johnson is concerned that as time has passed fewer and fewer of the non-World War II generation have forgotten or are not aware of Churchill’s accomplishments as he states at the outset “we are losing those who can remember the sound of his voice, and I worry that we are in danger….of forgetting the scale of what he did.” For the author, World War II would have been lost, if not for Churchill, and he further argues that the resident of Chartwell House and Blenheim Palace saved civilization and proved that one man can change history.

Johnson’s writing is very entertaining. His phrasing is both humorous and poignant, i.e., “the French were possessed of an origami army! They just keep folding with almost magical speed.” In his description of Churchill, he looked “like some burley and hung over butler from the set of Downton Abbey. However, aside from the humor presented, Johnson has a serious purpose as he seems to want to align himself with Churchill as a means of furthering his own political career. The question is what do we make of Johnson’s THE CHURCHILL FACTOR? Many who are familiar with Johnson’s career can foresee this Member of Parliament, mayor of London, former editor of The Spectator, and columnist for the Daily Telegraph pursuing the leadership of the Conservative Party, and at some point attaining the position of Prime Minister. By manipulating Churchill’s legacy as a comparison to certain aspects of his own life, Johnson may have hit upon a vehicle for his own political ascendency. Johnson suggests certain similarities with his hero, but then upon reflection he negates them, but for those who are familiar with the British political system, Johnson’s ambitions are clear.

Johnson’s thesis rests on rehabilitating the less savory aspects of Churchill’s personality and politics, at the same time presenting him as the genius who saved the world from Nazism. Johnson strongly suggests when reviewing the political choices that existed in England as the Dunkirk rescue was ongoing in May, 1940 there was no alternative to Churchill. Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax were both appeasers and wanted to make a separate peace with Germany. Johnson reviews Churchill’s career as a journalist, soldier, and social reformer to reflect on his preparation for taking on Hitler, and does not find him wanting in any area. The author tackles the opposition to Churchill within the Conservative party and why he was a lightning rod for his opponents. Johnson explains why he was so despised by many head on. He argues that Churchill, like his father Randolph, suffered from a lack of party loyalty and we see that both followed their own path when it came to shifting parties and then returning to the conservative fold. In addition, Churchill helped bring on ill will by always being a self-promoter and political opportunist. Churchill made a number of errors during World War I and later, in his career. The following come to mind: the fiasco at Antwerp in October, 1914, and Gallipoli in September, 1915 that forced many to question his ability as a military strategist when he was First Lord of their Admiralty. Further, Churchill’s ill-fated plan to block the Bolshevik victory in Russia after World War I, as well as fighting to prevent Indian self-government where not well thought out. Lastly, Churchill’s support for Edward VIII’s desire for a divorce and forfeiture of his throne angered many conservative back benchers.

Johnson presents Churchill’s bonifedes as a military leader by spending a good amount of time reflecting on Churchill’s bravery. He discusses Churchill’s love of planes and desire to develop an air force. He reviews his combat experience in the Sudan, the Boer War, India and the trenches of World War I. He concludes that Churchill’s own personal bravery allowed him to ask whether other candidates in 1940 had the experience and demeanor to lead England against the Nazis. Johnson also tackles some of the negative charges against Churchill. For Johnson, Churchill is a social reformer in the context of being a capitalist and a free trader. He argues that next to his mentor, Lloyd George, Churchill had great concern for workers and the lower classes. For Churchill, workers were the bedrock of the British Empire and without them the empire would collapse. Johnson points to Churchill’s championing of Labour exchanges, a Trade Board Bill to enforce minimum wages for certain jobs, unemployment insurance with worker, government and employer contributions, a 20% tax on land sales in order to fund progressive programs and redistribute wealth. Churchill was concerned that if the needs of the workers were not met, unrest could “scuttle” British power overseas. One might argue that Churchill was somewhat of a hypocrite based on some of his racist and imperialist goals, Johnson would say that he was nothing more than being politically pragmatic. Perhaps Churchill’s “compassionate conservatism” was years ahead of George W. Bush.

The author rests much of his argument on Churchill’s amazing work ethic and the motor of his exceptional brain. Johnson offers a great deal of evidence to support his claim, i.e., Churchill’s prodigious writing that earned him a Nobel Peace Prize for Literature at the age of seventy-five. Churchill’s work developing tank technology during World War I, his role in creating the boundaries for the Middle East, the partition of Ireland, and diplomacy during World War II to save England from the Nazis and rallying his own people. Lastly, the use of his personal charm to “drag” the United States into World War II. Once out of power Churchill sought to warn the west about Stalinist expansionism. His “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946 made public his concerns, but Churchill had internally warned his cabinet and FDR at least a year earlier. As in the 1930s when he warned about Nazism, as World War II came to a close he was seen as a war mongerer by many. Despite the fact that he was correct in both cases, this did not help him politically at home or in his relationship with President Truman, as he was soon out of office. Once he returned to power in 1951, and with the death of Stalin in 1953, Churchill worked for a summit of the great powers as he was deathly afraid of a thermonuclear war. Though he did not achieve his goal, after he left office for good in 1955, a four power summit did take place. For Johnson, in the end, Churchill’s ideas prevailed, from his speech in Fulton, MO in 1946 to the final collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Churchill had called for rapprochement between France and Germany, and a united Europe all of which was eventually achieved.

One of the major blemishes that exists in dealing with Churchill’s career lies in the sands of the Middle East. As Colonial Secretary he had to undue the negative results of the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and the Balfour Declaration all issued during World War I making very contradictory promises that Johnson describes as “Britain sold the same camel three times.” The story of the Cairo Conference and Churchill’s influence on the creation of Iraq, Transjordan, Syria, and Palestine has been told many times, but even Johnson must acknowledge that what Churchill had created, though it lasted for decades was bound to come a cropper. Further Churchill’s optimism concerning Jewish-Palestinian relations was ill-conceived. Johnson, as his want, does not blame Churchill, but the selfishness of both sides, particularly the lack of Arab leadership, a rationalization to deflect away from Churchill anything the author finds unacceptable. Despite his errors the author proposes that Churchill, even in old age, was a man ahead of his times, and based on his amazing career who is to say that Johnson was wrong.

Perhaps the major criticism one can offer is how the author presents his material. I for one enjoy objective biography, not subjective hero worship, particularly when there are so many instances of a lack of source material to support the author’s conclusions. However, if one is interested in a fast read encompassing Churchill’s entire career, Johnson’s effort could prove to be intellectually challenging, and entertaining.
Politics, Humor, History

Boris Johnson Ï 4 Free read