Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In The Life of Winston Churchill, Leonard Wibberley provides a traditional chronological biography of one of the world’s greatest politicians. The book traces the life of Churchill from his birth to his death and includes amusing incidents from his private as well as his public life. In twenty-six short chapters, Wibberley describes Churchill’s crucial role in the making of twentieth century British and world history. Through the extensive use of anecdotes, the author also conveys a sense of Churchill’s personality and explains why he was thought to be such an entertaining person by those who knew him well.

Wibberley identifies the important turning points in the development of Churchill’s career in politics, which culminated with his appointment as prime minister in 1940. Churchill had to overcome many obstacles to reach that goal, including his shift from the Conservative to the Liberal Party and then back to the Conservative Party. This crossing of party lines stimulated deep distrust of Churchill’s party loyalty and made it difficult for many Conservatives to accept him as their leader.

The Life of Winston Churchill is a narrative account of Churchill’s life, focusing on his political career. It devotes as much space—three chapters—to his early career in the army as it does to the period during World War II in which he was prime minister. Wibberley provides a brief bibliography of popular books about Churchill, but no index. The book also includes fifteen pages of photographs illustrating Churchill’s life at various stages, from childhood to his funeral procession in London.

After describing Churchill’s childhood and early career in the army, Wibberley traces Churchill’s role in politics. Churchill rose unusually rapidly to a high position in the pre-World War I Liberal government, but he was forced to resign from the government during World War I when he was blamed for the military defeat at Gallipoli. He later rejoined the Conservative Party and, rather surprisingly, was appointed to the important position of chancellor of the exchequer in 1924. During the 1930’s, however, he quarreled with the leaders of the Conservative Party and was excluded from the government. His appointment as prime minister in 1940 was thus a remarkable comeback by someone whose political career appeared to be over in 1939.