Mr. Churchill's Profession by Peter Clarke


13 Critic Reviews

Original, gap-filling, engagingly presented scholarship.


In 1953, Winston Churchill received the Nobel Prize-for Literature. In fact, Churchill was a professional writer before he was a politician, and published a stream of books and articles over the course of two intertwined careers. Now historian Peter Clarke traces the writing of the magisterial work that occupied Churchill for a quarter century, his four-volume History of the English-Speaking Peoples. As an author, Churchill faced woes familiar to many others-chronically short of funds, late on deadlines, scrambling to sell new projects or cajoling his publishers for more advance money, He signed a contract for the English-Speaking project in 1932, a time when his political career seemed over. The magnum opus was to be delivered in 1939-but in that year, history overtook history-writing. When the Nazis swept across Europe, Churchill was summoned from political exile to become Prime Minister. The English- Speaking Peoples would have to wait. The book would indeed be written and become a bestseller, after Churchill left public life. But even before he took office, the massive project was shaping his worldview, his speeches, and his leadership. In these pages, Peter Clarke follows Churchill's monumental quest to chronicle the English-Speaking Peoples-a quest that helped to define the enduring "special relationship" between Britain and America. In the process, Clarke gives us not just an untold chapter in literary history, but a fresh perspective on this iconic figure: a life of Churchill the author.

About Peter Clarke

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Peter Clarke's many books include Keynes: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the 20th Century's Most Influential Economist; The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire; The Keynesian Revolution in the Making, 1924-1936; and the acclaimed final volume of the Penguin History of Britain, Hope and Glory, Britain 1900-2000.
Published May 22, 2012 by Bloomsbury Press. 368 pages
Genres: History, Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Mr. Churchill's Profession
All: 13 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 3


Jul 01 2012

Original, gap-filling, engagingly presented scholarship.

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Above average
Reviewed by David Reynolds on Jul 20 2012

In this fascinating, erudite and witty book, Clarke takes a broader look at Churchill's literary career, focusing on a project that took him a quarter of a century to complete – A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, which he contracted in 1932...

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Publishers Weekly

Mar 26 2012

Clarke enhances his distinguished reputation as a scholar of modern Britain (The Last Days of the British Empire) with this original perspective on Winston Churchill.

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WSJ online

Reviewed by Maya Jasanoff on Jun 08 2012

For a book about books, "Mr. Churchill's Profession" has rather more to say about those of the accounting variety than those filled with prose... The payoff comes with a fascinating discussion...

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The Independent

Below average
Reviewed by Richard Vinen on Jul 07 2012

...neither a clear synthesis nor an original piece of research.

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The Telegraph

Reviewed by James Owen on Jul 18 2012

... it is a tribute to his protean personality, and to Clarke’s diligent scholarship and elegant narration, that every aspect of his life remains eternally fascinating.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Reviewed by Penelope Farthing

Mr. Churchill’s Profession is every bit as good as... Clarke’s lengthy list of excellent histories.

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The Daily Beast

Reviewed by Jimmy So on May 29 2012

Clarke’s brisk volume is a welcomed companion to Cannadine and Reynolds—and bring on Manchester.

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New Statesman

Reviewed by Douglas Hurd on Jul 04 2012

...detailed research and occasional crisp and illuminating comments.

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Times Colonist

Reviewed by Dave Obee on Jun 03 2012

Mr. Churchill's Profession provides a new way of looking at this largerthan-life author, who happened to be a statesman as well... It is a refreshing read.

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The Times Literary Supplement

Reviewed by Geoffrey Wheatcroft on Jul 18 2012

But Mr Churchill’s Profession is a pleasure in itself.

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Literary Review

Below average
Reviewed by Paul Addison

As literary biography, which the title seems to promise, it is more limited.

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Quill & Quire

Below average
Reviewed by Jan Dutkiewicz on Jul 01 2012

He delves into the minutiae of Churchill’s literary earnings and publishing history, but shows the reader very little of the actual writing, leaving only a secondary, adjectival impression of the Nobel-winning prose.

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