FINE REVIEW: “THE LAST LION: Defender of the Realm” by William Manchester & Paul Reid. Hazard of Writing in the Footsteps of A Master

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 (The Last Lion, #3)The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 by William R. Manchester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The great biographer William Manchester had the ability to transport the reader back to a period of history with the lust and vigor of great fiction. Unfortunately, due to Manchester’s untimely death–and despite his already in-depth research on Churchill, in the hands of journalist Paul Reid this third volume of “The Last Lion” is merely dry and factual. I’ve never been overwhelmed by the size of large tomes, but this book has been difficult to navigate due to the fact that it seems to be “just about the facts” and fails to bring these larger than life characters that dominated the WWII stage back to life.

I still give it four stars because these same facts are meticulously documented, and for the sake of history this facet of a most momentous task—documenting Winston Churchill’s war years was well accomplished. Alas, the presentation is sterile and uninspired–unlike the two previous volumes in the trilogy.

To be fair there was but one William Manchester. And it is only fair to acknowledge that Paul Reid had an unenviable task trying to write in the footsteps of a great master; this he failed to do with the élan and grace of Manchester, but in the end I would rather have read this less-than-stellar book than had no Volume 3 at all. Finally, to have had Churchill’s war years neglected due to the mortality of a great author would have been a sad loss; my gratitude to Paul Reid for leaping into the breach and endeavoring to do his best to set the record straight.

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