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Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill

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“Just when you think there can be nothing fresh to be said about the long life of Winston Churchill, along comes biographer Michael Shelden’s page-turner about Churchill from age twenty-six to forty” (The Washington Times). Between his rise and his fall, young Winston Churchill built a modern navy, experimented with radical social reforms, survived various threats on his li “Just when you think there can be nothing fresh to be said about the long life of Winston Churchill, along comes biographer Michael Shelden’s page-turner about Churchill from age twenty-six to forty” (The Washington Times). Between his rise and his fall, young Winston Churchill built a modern navy, experimented with radical social reforms, survived various threats on his life, made powerful enemies and a few good friends, became a husband and father, took the measure of the German military machine, and faced deadly artillery barrages on the Western front. Along the way, he learned how to outwit more experienced rivals, overcome bureaucratic obstacles, question the assumptions of his upbringing, value loyalty—and how to fall in love. In Young Titan, historian Michael Shelden gives us a portrait of Churchill as the dashing young suitor who pursued three great beauties of British society with his witty repartee, political flair, and poetic letters. This is the first biography that focuses on Churchill’s early career—the years between 1901 and 1915 that both nearly undid him but also forged the character that would later triumph in the Second World War.


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“Just when you think there can be nothing fresh to be said about the long life of Winston Churchill, along comes biographer Michael Shelden’s page-turner about Churchill from age twenty-six to forty” (The Washington Times). Between his rise and his fall, young Winston Churchill built a modern navy, experimented with radical social reforms, survived various threats on his li “Just when you think there can be nothing fresh to be said about the long life of Winston Churchill, along comes biographer Michael Shelden’s page-turner about Churchill from age twenty-six to forty” (The Washington Times). Between his rise and his fall, young Winston Churchill built a modern navy, experimented with radical social reforms, survived various threats on his life, made powerful enemies and a few good friends, became a husband and father, took the measure of the German military machine, and faced deadly artillery barrages on the Western front. Along the way, he learned how to outwit more experienced rivals, overcome bureaucratic obstacles, question the assumptions of his upbringing, value loyalty—and how to fall in love. In Young Titan, historian Michael Shelden gives us a portrait of Churchill as the dashing young suitor who pursued three great beauties of British society with his witty repartee, political flair, and poetic letters. This is the first biography that focuses on Churchill’s early career—the years between 1901 and 1915 that both nearly undid him but also forged the character that would later triumph in the Second World War.

30 review for Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I am probably one of the few people in the world who has not read a book about Churchill. I am not interested in reading about politics and I am not interested in reading about war, ergo Churchill has been outside my range. Yet of course he has been an heroic figure in the British landscape all my life, with the drip, drip, drip of anecdotes that this always involves, and that false sense that one knows the man. It was definitely time I took steps to find out more. This book describes Churchill's I am probably one of the few people in the world who has not read a book about Churchill. I am not interested in reading about politics and I am not interested in reading about war, ergo Churchill has been outside my range. Yet of course he has been an heroic figure in the British landscape all my life, with the drip, drip, drip of anecdotes that this always involves, and that false sense that one knows the man. It was definitely time I took steps to find out more. This book describes Churchill's life between the end of the Boer War, up until 1915 - and his big tumble from political power.... the time between his first triumphs and great fall - before he returned with all guns blazing to see us through the Second World War. Michael Sheldon was a journalist for The Daily Telegraph for twelve years, and it shows. He injects a lot of human interest into his telling of this story, which is the hook I (shamefully) always need to keep going with history books or biographies. He has made me want to read more about Churchill, and rush out and get books on several other people too - H.H. Asquith, Jennie Churchill, Violet Asquith and Lloyd George...he gives wonderful and intriguing sketches of them all. Issues in the book that particularly fascinated me: (view spoiler)[ * Churchill's relationship with his mother Jennie, and her volatile relationships with both his father and her subsequent husband (who was 20 years her junior.) Once Churchill entered politics she was one of his greatest supporters. * His love life. He proposed marriage to four women. Luckily the first three said no, until he met Clemmie in 1908, and she was to prove his able partner and soul mate. * The story of Violet Asquith, the prime minister's daughter, who was deeply in love with Churchill. She was intellectually his equal, and a great confidant. Sheldon describes marvellously the way she was able over the years to re-structure her feelings about Churchill, once she got over the terrible shock of him getting together with Clemmie, and get back to being his great supporter and friend. It was a rocky ride for her though making this transition, and for a romantic like me (yes, I am one), it made gripping reading. * Churchill crossing the floor in the House of Commons - making the leap from Conservative to Liberal. * His work as Under-Secretary at The Colonial Department. Here Sheldon describes him as a benign figure. A man of his time, with predictable prejudices, yet also aware of injustices done to native populations, and taking steps to limit these as much as possible. * His efforts to encourage reconciliation between the British and the Boers, much to the disgust of the Conservatives. General Botha's visit to England; and South Africa's gift to the king of the amazing 3000 carat Cullinan diamond. * Churchill's work as President of the Board of Trade, which was remarkable. He did the spadework for three parliamentary bills that would eventually change the lives of the poor for the better. These bills helped the unemployed find work, helped people get unemployment insurance, and helped improve the lives of people in unhealthy working conditions. * His work as Home Secretary - and the challenges this involved with general law and order, and severe rioting. These were difficult times in Britain, and he had to make some tough decisions. Also, during his tenure forty-two people were condemned to death. He reprieved twenty. (Later in his life he defended capital punishment, stating that life imprisonment could be the harsher option.) * The unbelievable hostility of the Suffragettes towards Churchill. He supported their cause, but the upper hierarchy of his party did not. As a result, when he had to fight two by-elections, their treatment of him was hostile. In fact it was horrendous. In 1909 he was struck over the head with a dog whip, and a second blow slashed his face. He was on a station platform at the time, and almost fell under a train. Later a woman threw a heavy iron bolt at his car, and almost hit him. The windows of his house were smashed. There were threats that his daughter would be kidnapped, and she was given 24 hours police protection. I repeat - he SUPPORTED their cause! (**** A friend has now pointed out that there were two sectors campaigning to get votes for women. The Suffragists - who took peaceful steps to argue for voting rights, and the Suffragettes, who were more militant in their campaign. The book did not say he supported the Suffragettes as such; only that he believed in the right of women to vote. * The book also detailed the Liberals audacious plans to stop the unelected members of the House of Lords being able to veto bills from The House of Commons. Outrageous and fascinating stuff! * Churchill's work as First Lord of the Admiralty and his conviction that Germany wanted to fight a war - in spite of the fact that many people believed otherwise. His triumphs of changing British ships so that they ran on oil instead of coal, making them much faster; and changing the dreadnought ships' guns from 13.5" to 15" in width, thus giving them a much longer range. * In World War 1, his crash from the heights of position as First Lord of the Admiralty, (after the British invasion of Turkey went badly wrong, and the Liberals were looking for a scapegoat), and the marvellous way he picked himself up, and decided instead to go to war as a humble major in the trenches. Throughout the book one is struck by his courage and tenacity, and this instance, by a rare example of outstanding humility too. (hide spoiler)] My favourite quote from the book is Churchill talking to Violet Asquith "We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow worm" Absolutely so - and this excellent book shows this to be true time and time again. I thought it was a great read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    TR Peterson

    When many think of Winston Churchill, it is undoubtedly as the elder statesman with the jowly, bulldog face and steely determination to stand alone against the Nazis. In Shelden's Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill we see instead an overly confident, young, aristocratic talk of the town who romances a number of women, most of which turn down his proposals for marriage, before finding and marrying Clementine Hozier who will remain his lifelong companion. One of the most interesting cont When many think of Winston Churchill, it is undoubtedly as the elder statesman with the jowly, bulldog face and steely determination to stand alone against the Nazis. In Shelden's Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill we see instead an overly confident, young, aristocratic talk of the town who romances a number of women, most of which turn down his proposals for marriage, before finding and marrying Clementine Hozier who will remain his lifelong companion. One of the most interesting contributions of the books to Churchill studies is Shelden's look at the complicated relationship between the politically astute and active Prime Minister's daughter Violet Asquith and the young Churchill. It is a sad tale of Violet's unrequited love and leaves the reader to wonder what might have happened had Churchill decided on Violet instead of Clemmie. Given Violet's interest and actual participation in politics in contrast to Clementine, one is left wondering if she could have been the UK's Eleanor Roosevelt. As Shelden correctly points out, many at the time and since have seen Churchill as a man undeserving of his fame having little to do with actual achievement and instead a reliance on his family's name and wealth. In reality the Churchills were not well off compared to other in the aristocracy and particularly after his defection to the Liberals, the Tory Party elite very firmly looked down upon the younger man. Churchill was always his own man with, as Asquith is quoted as saying, the "streak of lightning in the brain" that showed a true genius underneath. He worked incredibly hard at writing and speaking, practicing for hours and committing great swathes of writing to memory. Shelden points to his trials in politics and in love as the building blocks of the later man he would become. The end of the book perhaps shows Churchill's greatest political failure in his decision as First Lord of the Admiralty; to attack the Dardanelles resulting in the utter disaster at Gallipoli in 1915 during the First World War. Shelden does give Churchill more leeway than he deserves in this regard, trying to point the finger at the mentally unstable "Jacky" Fisher as the responsible party as well and Prime Minister Asquith and cabinet member Lloyd George. While undoubtedly Churchill was the better war leader, this was his single worst decision as a military leader and even at the time he was well aware he was responsible having said to a visitor while in the midst of painting "There is more blood than paint on these hands". While it is remarkable that Churchill recovered from this disaster, albeit some 20 years later, it was nonetheless still an epic military blunder. However, Shelden does show that Churchill essentially sent himself into exile in the trenches rather than remain in a do-nothing government post and it is hard not to admire a man for voluntarily going to face death himself after having consigned others to the same fate. Overall this was an informative and enjoyable read and Shelden is currently working on a second volume which will hopefully be as informative as this one.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adam Yoshida

    This is the tenth Winston Churchill biography that I've read and, in my opinion, one of the best. Over the last year I've gotten into "specialist" Churchill biographies - "Mr. Churchill's Profession" (about Churchill as a writer), "Warlord" (about Churchill as a military leader) and now this one (in addition to re-reading the three-volume Manchester bio). In particular, this book provided fresh new insight - something quite rare into so-studied a man as Winston - in the area of Churchill's evolu This is the tenth Winston Churchill biography that I've read and, in my opinion, one of the best. Over the last year I've gotten into "specialist" Churchill biographies - "Mr. Churchill's Profession" (about Churchill as a writer), "Warlord" (about Churchill as a military leader) and now this one (in addition to re-reading the three-volume Manchester bio). In particular, this book provided fresh new insight - something quite rare into so-studied a man as Winston - in the area of Churchill's evolution through his twenties. In particular, I was impressed by the fresh telling of the story of Churchill and Violet Asquith (the daughter of the Prime Minister and the grandmother of the modern-day actress Helena Bonham-Carter). I was well-aware, from having read numerous other Churchill stories, of their close friendship stretching across many decades and had always wondered why, in spite of the signs, their extreme closeness, the romanticism of their words about each other over the years, they had not married. I had always assumed - given the knowledge of how Churchill was rejected by a series of famous women that he proposed to throughout the first decade of the 20th Century - that she had spurned him. Instead, apparently it turns out that she held a largely-unrequited love for him, but he regarded her as too similar (and perhaps too assertive), and instead kept her, basically, in reserve as he courted Clementine. On account of this, he felt obligated - during their very-short engagement - to make a long journey to Scotland to tell her in person, very-nearly resulting in Clementine breaking off their engagement and also sending Violet into a violent depression. As I mentioned, despite having read thousands and thousands of pages about Churchill - including Manchester's bio, his own account of his early life, and the authorized biography - I had literally never heard of any of this certainly-significant episode before. I found the book a thoroughly-interesting read and recommend it very highly.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Derrick

    "Get enough to live on without asking anybody for anything. That's the first condition for success, or indeed, of decent living; that's the prime necessity of life. Every man of us should think of nothing but that till is achieved. Afterwards one can do what one likes - please keep that in front of you as the object of your life!" ~ Winston Churchill. I have to admit that I too often fall prey to the cardinal sin of judging a book by its cover, and the wages of that sin, many times have been disa "Get enough to live on without asking anybody for anything. That's the first condition for success, or indeed, of decent living; that's the prime necessity of life. Every man of us should think of nothing but that till is achieved. Afterwards one can do what one likes - please keep that in front of you as the object of your life!" ~ Winston Churchill. I have to admit that I too often fall prey to the cardinal sin of judging a book by its cover, and the wages of that sin, many times have been disappointment. So when the Young Titan with a dashing face of young Winston Churchill kept pulling me in, my scepticism was at all-time high, but thank Michael Shelden, this turned out to be a glorious exemption. Most biographies, I argue, are nothing but overviews of someone's life concentrating on the juicy aspects but not the substance. They barely scratch the surface. It's inconceivably hard to condense someone's life, however short and uneventful it was, within 500 pages. So most biographers, at least some, retort to the highlight moments; the "twitter" moments - the ones that would have been trendy in this social media age. They are too lazy to do their homework, and this is precisely where Shelden struck gold. He went digging, and knowing the nearly-impossible task of unearthing Winston Churchill in his wholeness, he decided to concentrate on his formative political years which, evidently, were where the backbone of his character was formed. With self-awareness of greatness that lays yonder, Churchill, early on, at an age where some of us were still in diapers, decides to write his life story the way he wanted it to be written. And he wrote it in deeds. Deeds that were filled with so much dynamism and romanticism that can only be matched in the world of fiction. At 26 years of age, Churchill had gone to war in Africa, captured, escaped and came back as a war hero, got elected as an MP, pursuing the most beautiful women of his time, and in his own words - had written as many books as Moses. But Churchill was not all glitter. With boyish arrogance, notoriety, overconfidence and a sharp sense of wit, he could say things that could even provoke a reprimand from the king himself. Churchill, at the pick of his youth, had no brakes. And if he had them, he didn't use them. No wonder he called himself a hooligan. The author overly dwelt on his romantic pursuits than I thought was necessary and in the process, we are able to see this side of Churchill that is almost muted in history books. At his core, beyond the flamboyance and the bravado, underneath the expensive silk pyjamas that he was so fond of, we see a man with a tender heart yearning to feel and to be filled with love to a point where he is begging for it. With three denials and consequently three heartbreaks in a row, it was interesting to see Winston Churchill, as great as he was, still struggling in the art of wooing. His fine penmanship and perfect poetic prose in letter writing often fell short of the desired objective which meant that these women he desired could only see him as a friend at best and not a lover. As a man, I know this pained him more than he could admit. Friendship is the worst token of appreciation you can give a man who is in love with you. You rather cast him to obscurity. Quite frankly I don't know why I'm giving this book four stars because it's clearly within the prisms of a classic. I started it with great expectations and excitement and wrapped it up with awe and wonderment at the great force of character Winston Churchill was and how Michael Shelden was able to lay it out on canvas with such beautiful strokes you could hardly find a fault. No wonder one reviewer remarked at how among the ten books he has read on Churchill, this was by far the best. To me, this served as a perfect introductory lesson to Winston Churchill 101 and I can't wait to read the next book about this titan though I'm afraid the bar has been set so high.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Janine Urban

    I must confess that I am not an avid Churchill reader; my book interests tend to run the gamut too much to stick to one person or thing. But I still find him to be a fascinating character, hardly a dull moment and I love that he is self aware. He's conceited and knows it; never apologizes for it. This book sets the stage for the rise of Churchill's career. These are the moments in his political career that would help shape and define him. I started off by thinking this was no Manchester biograph I must confess that I am not an avid Churchill reader; my book interests tend to run the gamut too much to stick to one person or thing. But I still find him to be a fascinating character, hardly a dull moment and I love that he is self aware. He's conceited and knows it; never apologizes for it. This book sets the stage for the rise of Churchill's career. These are the moments in his political career that would help shape and define him. I started off by thinking this was no Manchester biography (which I adored) and I realized it would be unfair to compare it to that work. This biography truly stands alone as it's own good (separate) work and I enjoyed it. Churchill quotes abound and I found his relationship with Violet intriguing (I'll let you read that). Well done.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Erez Davidi

    I have already read a few biographies of Churchill which were, for the most part, fairly good. However, I always felt that they skimmed through Churchill's youth and, naturally, focused on him during WWII. By reading this new book by Shelden, I was hoping to gain a few insights into the events that shaped Churchill's life and made him into the person he was. Since the title suggests that the focus is on young Churchill, I was expecting to read about Churchill's childhood. Nevertheless, Shelden co I have already read a few biographies of Churchill which were, for the most part, fairly good. However, I always felt that they skimmed through Churchill's youth and, naturally, focused on him during WWII. By reading this new book by Shelden, I was hoping to gain a few insights into the events that shaped Churchill's life and made him into the person he was. Since the title suggests that the focus is on young Churchill, I was expecting to read about Churchill's childhood. Nevertheless, Shelden covers Churchill's life from after he returns from the Boar War and up to WWI, which is a missed opportunity, because a lot can be learned about someone from his childhood years. However, I did learn plenty of new and amusing facts about Churchill, and I do feel I have a better grasp of who Churchill was and what drove him. This book won't change your opinion of Churchill for better and worse. Yet, it will offer you a few hours of enjoyment and amusement.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Serviceable biography of Winston Churchill's political rise and fall as a young man. The smooth writing and delightful anecdotes caused it to shine at times, but it also got bogged down in unnecessary detail at other times. A lot of time, of course, is spent in the political world but the author also takes some time out to detail Winston Churchill's often times thwarted efforts to find the love of his life (there were many ladies that he attempted to woo). Clementine, the one he finally married, Serviceable biography of Winston Churchill's political rise and fall as a young man. The smooth writing and delightful anecdotes caused it to shine at times, but it also got bogged down in unnecessary detail at other times. A lot of time, of course, is spent in the political world but the author also takes some time out to detail Winston Churchill's often times thwarted efforts to find the love of his life (there were many ladies that he attempted to woo). Clementine, the one he finally married, was described a bit, but it left me wanting to know more about her. It's amazing to see the drive, passion, and genius that resided in such a young man and how he fully utilized it. You can see how these formative years were preparing him for the time when he would come to his zenith during the World War II years.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    The Young Titan deals with Churchill as a young man, fresh on Britain's political and social scenes. He immediately makes his mark in Parliament as brilliant and intelligent, a forceful orator, a "comer" and ...as untrustworthy. That latter assessment is both from members of his own, first, political party the Tories , and then from the Liberal party, which Churchill joins after a policy dispute with the leaders of the Tories. The fact that Churchill sees a looming deceive Tory defeat in the next The Young Titan deals with Churchill as a young man, fresh on Britain's political and social scenes. He immediately makes his mark in Parliament as brilliant and intelligent, a forceful orator, a "comer" and ...as untrustworthy. That latter assessment is both from members of his own, first, political party the Tories , and then from the Liberal party, which Churchill joins after a policy dispute with the leaders of the Tories. The fact that Churchill sees a looming deceive Tory defeat in the next election weighed in on that decision. More than anything, Churchill wants to be, dares to want to be a great man. This book shows in brief , but fascinating detail, the forging of the political giant. It also details his mostly frustrated amorous adventures with various rich, prominent and beautiful women, all unsuccessful. All the women from or above his class view Winston as charming, a brilliant thinker and...untrustworthy. Perhaps all those women saw in him a striver, a restless man who wanted a beautiful woman at his side as an ornament to his career, a career which their money and status would greatly help further. Most if the women preferred to keep Winston as a casual friend; only Clementine chose to be his wife. A reader can easily see how Churchill learned his craft as politician, acting in and on events. Very often he saw things forming on the horizon, either working to head them off, or call the warning. Interestingly, it is apparent that he was a master manipulator, moving pieces on the board to get the desired results. Few , at least few men, could resist his logic, charm and persuasion. Certainly not FDR, who later decided to commit the US to a Europe First war program even though It was Japan, not Germany, who attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. More than anything, Churchill wanted to be a great man. Greater than his father, who it was said was characterized as, " remarkably brilliant ...[but] untrustworthy.", his father, Randolph who died wasted and a wastrel, killed by an unnamed illness, probably syphilis. He love for his father drove him to great challenges. Often Churchill succeeded; when he failed , he failed mightily. All prepared him for the greatest challenges of his life, yet to come and beyond the scope of this book. The book is for those who might be interested in how Winston Churchill grew to become the man of Britain's finest hour, and the world's greatest political leader.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Churchill was a man who had not one but two political lives, and given that his second encompassed the Second World War it's hardly a surprise that in any biography the bulk of the attention is paid to his later career. The mental image of Churchill we all have is from his war years - the cigar, the bowler hat, the V for Victory signal. But Churchill was 66 years old when he became Prime Minister and he had spent a good twenty-plus years in relative political exile before that, so it is all too Churchill was a man who had not one but two political lives, and given that his second encompassed the Second World War it's hardly a surprise that in any biography the bulk of the attention is paid to his later career. The mental image of Churchill we all have is from his war years - the cigar, the bowler hat, the V for Victory signal. But Churchill was 66 years old when he became Prime Minister and he had spent a good twenty-plus years in relative political exile before that, so it is all too easy to forget his youth, his meteoric rise, his position as the bright young buck of first the Tory and then the Liberal party. This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable biography covers only a portion of Churchill's remarkable life - his early political career from his first position as an MP to the beginning of his downfall after Gallipoli. Churchill had quite the spectacular rise to power, becoming Home Secretary and then First Lord of the Admiralty when only in his thirties - and as equally spectacular a fall after the disaster at Gallipoli. In focusing on such a brief period, Shelden has the luxury of examining Churchill's life in more detail than most other single-volume biographies have the opportunity to - and as a result some of the incidents and encounters in this were completely new to me. Churchill's romantic travails prior to his marriage and his relationship with his parents really helped to shed light on his character, and I have no doubt these will influence any future books on Churchill I read. That an entire book can be written about such a short period is to testament to the life Churchill led - a book that doesn't include the Second World War, or indeed Churchill's early adventures in the Sudan and the Boer War, and yet manages to be as entertaining, enjoyable and informative as this one, is surely to the credit of both the subject and the author.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    I thought this was a very interesting book which gave an insight of the experiences which lead to the formation of his personality. He had an incredible command of the English language and a memory to recover choice phrases when making speeches or debating a point in Parliament. He used this ability on his lecture tours and in his writing to make enough money to support his lifestyle. His outlook was also very much coloured by his upbringing and privileged class. He was also a talented painter a I thought this was a very interesting book which gave an insight of the experiences which lead to the formation of his personality. He had an incredible command of the English language and a memory to recover choice phrases when making speeches or debating a point in Parliament. He used this ability on his lecture tours and in his writing to make enough money to support his lifestyle. His outlook was also very much coloured by his upbringing and privileged class. He was also a talented painter and the insights in to his construction of elaborate sand castles gave another picture of the man. He stood by his principles which lead to him leaving the Tory Party and to supporting home rule for Ireland. If only that had been sorted out at the time a lot of deaths could have been saved. When he called out the troops either on standby or to suppress rioting showed his class mentality towards the poor. The author gave very little background to why these people were rioting and to do that they must have been desperate. There was a mention of how appalled he was when he accidentally wandered in to a slum district in Manchester and did realise that if something was not done there would be trouble. Lloyd George was a very wiley politician but most were. The author seems at every opportunity to cast doubt on Lloyd George's achievements and even mentions events well after the period covered by the book and so easy to see with hindsight. However I did very much enjoy reading the book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    A very well written history of Churchill's early political career. A meteoric rise and shocking collapse after he is scapegoated for the failed attempt to invade Turkey in World War I . The book is really good on the politics and personalities off edwardinian Great Britain. The politics and animosities of its practioners show that the vitriolic dislike that r's and D's have in modern DC is nothing new. I enjoyed this opportunity to revisit an exciting and interesting time. If you like history ,e A very well written history of Churchill's early political career. A meteoric rise and shocking collapse after he is scapegoated for the failed attempt to invade Turkey in World War I . The book is really good on the politics and personalities off edwardinian Great Britain. The politics and animosities of its practioners show that the vitriolic dislike that r's and D's have in modern DC is nothing new. I enjoyed this opportunity to revisit an exciting and interesting time. If you like history ,especially during this time period try this one out. It we'll educate you and give you a renewed appreciation for Churchill the leader, the politician and the man.

  12. 5 out of 5

    judy

    A highly readable biography that appears to be excellently sourced as well as providing new material. Churchill's early years as a rising politician were fascinating. It's easy to see why the author could stop where he did and still have provided a delightful reading experience. My only question is---where do I go now? A highly readable biography that appears to be excellently sourced as well as providing new material. Churchill's early years as a rising politician were fascinating. It's easy to see why the author could stop where he did and still have provided a delightful reading experience. My only question is---where do I go now?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Brilliant. Simply brilliant. Even the Grand Old Man himself would approve of this sympathetic, yet probing account of Churchill's early career as a politician. Wonderfully written and terribly engaging. Shelden again creates a biographic masterpiece. Bravo! Brilliant. Simply brilliant. Even the Grand Old Man himself would approve of this sympathetic, yet probing account of Churchill's early career as a politician. Wonderfully written and terribly engaging. Shelden again creates a biographic masterpiece. Bravo!

  14. 4 out of 5

    ladywallingford

    I liked it in that it portrayed Winston at a different time period within his life, the early years. Most of what I have seen and heard about Winston Churchill pretty much enveloped his years as Prime Minister during World War II, but that was relatively late in life. He also served in politics in the Edwardian period and at the beginning of World War I. At that point, he fell from grace and reentered the army, basically building his career from the bottom up again. In this biography, you definit I liked it in that it portrayed Winston at a different time period within his life, the early years. Most of what I have seen and heard about Winston Churchill pretty much enveloped his years as Prime Minister during World War II, but that was relatively late in life. He also served in politics in the Edwardian period and at the beginning of World War I. At that point, he fell from grace and reentered the army, basically building his career from the bottom up again. In this biography, you definitely get a sense of Winston as a courageous, determined, and charismatic individual. You can see the young man forming into the Prime Minister that led England through the dark years of the second World War. With that said, the book was, at times, a bit slow, especially at the beginning, but it picked up for me. I haven't read any other Churchill biography, so another one may be better than this one due to the slow pacing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Szymon

    Exceptionally good biography. Focusing on a short period of time, it paints a detailed and exciting picture of Churchill's early years. The author managed to not only present in great detail and animate the character of Winston Churchill, but also every major supporting character. The future Prime Minister seems to me now like an old friend, whose character I know by heart; his supporting cast is a set of vibrant individuals, whose lives I am eager to study like I just studied Winston's. I didn't Exceptionally good biography. Focusing on a short period of time, it paints a detailed and exciting picture of Churchill's early years. The author managed to not only present in great detail and animate the character of Winston Churchill, but also every major supporting character. The future Prime Minister seems to me now like an old friend, whose character I know by heart; his supporting cast is a set of vibrant individuals, whose lives I am eager to study like I just studied Winston's. I didn't want it to end.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Alford

    I have read most of the major Churchill biographies and yet Shelden managed to find things about him that everybody else missed. Shelden shows us a young intemperate war hero, a man of political ambitions, a deal maker, combative and at the same time easily swayed by a pretty face. I personally found it oddly amusing to see young Winstons attempts to woo the beauties of his day, and to feel his subsequent rejections. Imagine receiving sappy love letters from one of the greatest orators of the 20 I have read most of the major Churchill biographies and yet Shelden managed to find things about him that everybody else missed. Shelden shows us a young intemperate war hero, a man of political ambitions, a deal maker, combative and at the same time easily swayed by a pretty face. I personally found it oddly amusing to see young Winstons attempts to woo the beauties of his day, and to feel his subsequent rejections. Imagine receiving sappy love letters from one of the greatest orators of the 20th century, and dismissing him. A complex book for a complex individual.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Poet;Pilot;author;painter......I didn't know Winston Churchill had the time or the skills for these impressive accomplishments. While we all know that he was the prime minister of England,this account tells how Churchill starting pursuing his goals young in life.It explains risks, and the setbacks ,he faced in his younger years.While the book may slow your life down,it is wonderful to learn and imagine the life of the developing Winston Churchill. Poet;Pilot;author;painter......I didn't know Winston Churchill had the time or the skills for these impressive accomplishments. While we all know that he was the prime minister of England,this account tells how Churchill starting pursuing his goals young in life.It explains risks, and the setbacks ,he faced in his younger years.While the book may slow your life down,it is wonderful to learn and imagine the life of the developing Winston Churchill.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sriram Ganesan

    This was an amazing book. Easy read. Well written. You understand what kind of person Churchill is. Good introduction to someone who wants to get into History reading. One con is that you could clearly see that the author has an extremely positive view of Churchill and usually absolves him of all his mis-givings.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bryant

    Very well written, the author takes what is essentially a very specific time in Churchill's life, which is actually somewhat dull (parliamentary politicizing and back-and-forths is a topic I don't usually find 'fascinating' or 'gripping') and keeps the readers' interest. Overall a worthwhile read and it peaked my interest in the rest of Winston Churchill's life. Very well written, the author takes what is essentially a very specific time in Churchill's life, which is actually somewhat dull (parliamentary politicizing and back-and-forths is a topic I don't usually find 'fascinating' or 'gripping') and keeps the readers' interest. Overall a worthwhile read and it peaked my interest in the rest of Winston Churchill's life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Buenconsejo

    One of the leaders during World War II , on his journey to being the Prime Minister of that time. Reminding me that he was also a softy before all those challenges and obstacles in his life. I recommend doing a light reading regarding the goverment and the politicians present in his time to have a full appreciation of the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erin Maley

    Excellent overview of the early life of Winston Churchill.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rui Shen

    After watching Crown,I wanted to read about this great noble leader.And this book let you peek into his young life and up bringing and his tireless effort towards the success and more.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Years ago, when I was teaching in a school that had morning announcements over an intercom to every classroom, our principal handed down a directive in which he said " Starting today there will only be one instrument for the consumption of liquids allotted per student!" . The students looked at me with perplexity, wondering what new rule this was and how it pertained to them. Fortunately, having listened to many politicians, including Winston Churchill, by then I was able to interpret the messag Years ago, when I was teaching in a school that had morning announcements over an intercom to every classroom, our principal handed down a directive in which he said " Starting today there will only be one instrument for the consumption of liquids allotted per student!" . The students looked at me with perplexity, wondering what new rule this was and how it pertained to them. Fortunately, having listened to many politicians, including Winston Churchill, by then I was able to interpret the message as: you each only get one straw! Granted my knowledge of WC was in his waning days. He was a short fat old man with a hat perched strangely on his head and a cigar in his mouth. His voice was a drone heavily accented with high British tones. My parents were not enamoured of him and nothing I saw or heard did much to alter my opinion that he was a bore who spoke in meaningless wordy pronouncements that boiled down to similar messages--you get one straw or something equally insignificant. Still, I wanted to read about him as a young man. There must have been some reason that he rose so high to power at a very young age. Something other than just his connections to the aristocracy on his British father's side and to the wealth of America, on his mother's. I'd read books about Jennie Churchill, the beauty and one of King Edward's lovers. I'd also been aware of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill who'd died of syphilis at a fairly young age. But I'd not really known much about the son's young manhood, only of his lonely childhood, sent off to prep school after a series of nannies, as was and is sometimes still the custom in such circles. In the first few chapters, despite the very readable descriptions of Winston the freckled red-haired Mommy's darling boy, I just could not seem to get the image of the old man out of my head. It probably didn't help that the focus was on his speechifying in which he delighted, whether out socially or performing politically. But within fifty pages the young man began to emerge. Here we see the charming, witty fellow who kept falling in love with some of the most beautiful women of his social set, only to have them either refuse his marriage proposal outright or manage to sidestep him so well that he never got the chance to propose. We also see the rebel who is bound and determined to shake up the stodgy House of Commons and even gathers around him like-minded cronies to form a group called the Hooligans in the Tory Party. When his ambitions are stymied by his remaining a Tory, he blithely transfers his loyalties to the Liberal Party and attacks vigourously some of the Tories who played important roles in his ascendance. He manages to keep a friendship going throughout his life with the one woman who fell deeply in love with him, the daughter of the Prime Minister, while he marries his Clementine. As I read about his speeches denigrating the House of Lords and its aristocrats, I could not help but saying to myself--but your family background is littered with these people. And sure enough, the people and the press of the day, had exactly the same reaction. Reading of the alliances and the fallings out of these politicians in a system of government so different from that in the US, I could not help but notice that the systems might be different but politics is not. I did not come away liking Winston any better nor did I become terribly impressed by him as having accomplished very much but I did have a better grasp of what formed the man I did remember who had come through the Second World War much more successfully than the First. But then the allies were different and so were there leaders then.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I admit to having read very little about Winston Churchill. I find that most of the books about him are heavy on the WWII history (obviously), a popular and venerable genre but just not one that's particularly of my interest. Young Titan was a wonderful surprise. An unusal look at Churchill's life as a young man and politician, before he became the Great Historical Figure. Before there was Prime Minister Churchill there was Winston the upstart politician. Considered semi-annoying and possibly cr I admit to having read very little about Winston Churchill. I find that most of the books about him are heavy on the WWII history (obviously), a popular and venerable genre but just not one that's particularly of my interest. Young Titan was a wonderful surprise. An unusal look at Churchill's life as a young man and politician, before he became the Great Historical Figure. Before there was Prime Minister Churchill there was Winston the upstart politician. Considered semi-annoying and possibly crazy as a young man, he had a meteoric rise through the ranks of the British government, followed by a pretty spectacular fall when his decision to wage the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli forces him out of government. It's a wonderful history, and it's not exaggerating that Churchill's early life was as full, if not more so, than the entire lives of most men. If I had one wish, it would have been to get more on his upbringing, childhood, and education (the Young Titan begins with his entry into political life), but I suppose the author could only fit so much when there's so much already to cover. Churchill, even as a young man, was a controversial figure and there are many different interpretations of his actions. He's either an unconventional thinker, ahead of his time, or a traitor and an opportunist who did anything in pursuit of personal glory. Whereever possible, Shelden chooses the most favorable interpretation of his subject's choices, and not being a Churchill expert, I'm not well-placed to dispute him. I suspect though that the future lies somewhere in between the two extremes. As an added bonus: this is a great book for the Downton Abbey enthusiast who wants something substantial to chew on. A lot of it involves the social and political conventions of late-Victorian and Edwardian England, and there's plenty to see, hear, and learn about (including young Winston's rather busy love life).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paul Pessolano

    “Young Titan, The Making of Winston Churchill” by Michael Shelden, published by Simon and Schuster. Category – Biography Most of us know the Winston Churchill of World War II, the cigar chomping, V for victory sign, and his encouragement of the English people through the war. However, very few know about the early life of Churchill and how be came to be the man that most of us know. To say the least he was a very ambitious man in all of his pursuits, including his pursuit for a wife. The book follo “Young Titan, The Making of Winston Churchill” by Michael Shelden, published by Simon and Schuster. Category – Biography Most of us know the Winston Churchill of World War II, the cigar chomping, V for victory sign, and his encouragement of the English people through the war. However, very few know about the early life of Churchill and how be came to be the man that most of us know. To say the least he was a very ambitious man in all of his pursuits, including his pursuit for a wife. The book follows Churchill through the ages of twenty-six and forty. This was a time when his fortunes rose like a meteor and fell like a thousand pound rock. Churchill’s greatest achievement during this time was being named First Lord of the Admiralty. In this capacity Churchill prepared the English Navy for war when most thought that there was no threat of a war. This also led to his biggest mistake and saw those around him abandon him, even though they were partly to blame for his mistake. This is a book that should interest anyone that likes to read about the great personalities of history. It is very readable; in fact, the reader will find that it reads more like a story than a history book. There is a little of everything in the book, a little romance, a little backstabbing, and a person who truly believed in himself and what he was doing. Churchill proved himself to be a great patriot, one who put himself literally in the thick of battle for his beliefs.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lilisa

    A solid look at Winston Churchill as a young man before the age of 40. Most of what we know of Churchill centers on his later years as prime minister of Britain twice – during the second world war and then in the 50s. Young Titan gives us a glimpse into his early life – his personality, character, drive, relationships and the hard knocks he overcame. He served as an army officer in various countries and A charismatic figure, he switched party lines a couple of times, built Britain’s modern navy, A solid look at Winston Churchill as a young man before the age of 40. Most of what we know of Churchill centers on his later years as prime minister of Britain twice – during the second world war and then in the 50s. Young Titan gives us a glimpse into his early life – his personality, character, drive, relationships and the hard knocks he overcame. He served as an army officer in various countries and A charismatic figure, he switched party lines a couple of times, built Britain’s modern navy, and became the scapegoat for the failure of the Gallipoli campaign during World War I. He spent the next few years in political isolation until he came roaring back as prime minister. Michael Sheldon does a nice job of capturing the life and times of Churchill in his formative years, which laid the foundation for his later years, of which we’re most familiar.

  27. 5 out of 5

    R.M.F Brown

    A masterclass in historical biography Given that there is a plethora of Churchill biographies on the market (everything from Churchill as Warlord, to what type of underwear he wore) the introduction of yet another biography, failed to quicken the pulse. Fortunately, this was one of those occasions where I enjoyed being proven wrong. Sheldon's young titan is a masterpiece of historical biography. It reads like a novel, but never becomes to novelistic. It is peppered with historical sources and quo A masterclass in historical biography Given that there is a plethora of Churchill biographies on the market (everything from Churchill as Warlord, to what type of underwear he wore) the introduction of yet another biography, failed to quicken the pulse. Fortunately, this was one of those occasions where I enjoyed being proven wrong. Sheldon's young titan is a masterpiece of historical biography. It reads like a novel, but never becomes to novelistic. It is peppered with historical sources and quotes, but never to the detriment of the narrative. We see a side of Churchill, that although we new existed, had never been adequately explored...until now. If the sign of a good book is sitting down to read it, and then you glance up at the clock, and you realise two hours have flown past, then this is a good book!

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Schroeder

    I finished this book with a big smile on my face. Although hopeful, the book ends during a dark period of Churchill's life (read it for yourself). But, what is great about the book is that it reveals Churchill's humanity and how he faced failure like any other human. As the author notes, it was Churchill's 1901-15 experiences that "forged the character" of the man who would give the lion's roar when the British Empire stood alone against Hitler a quarter-century later. You can't understand the g I finished this book with a big smile on my face. Although hopeful, the book ends during a dark period of Churchill's life (read it for yourself). But, what is great about the book is that it reveals Churchill's humanity and how he faced failure like any other human. As the author notes, it was Churchill's 1901-15 experiences that "forged the character" of the man who would give the lion's roar when the British Empire stood alone against Hitler a quarter-century later. You can't understand the greatness of Churchill without reading about his earlier political years leading into World War I. Brilliant read and I highly recommend it for any Churchill enthusiast. I also recommend it for anyone who ever feels like they have failed and are not sure what to do next. My advice is always to study Churchill. Start with Young Titan.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    I received this via the goodreads scheme - thank you! I really enjoyed this book for several reasons. As a UK Citizen I have always known about Churchill and his influence during the Wars, however I did not know anything beyond the basics. This book filled in some of the blanks for me and in doing so rounded out my understanding of Winston Churchill. The author appears to be very sympathetic to Churchill, but balanced it by pointing out his flaws along with his shining moments. In the process of fi I received this via the goodreads scheme - thank you! I really enjoyed this book for several reasons. As a UK Citizen I have always known about Churchill and his influence during the Wars, however I did not know anything beyond the basics. This book filled in some of the blanks for me and in doing so rounded out my understanding of Winston Churchill. The author appears to be very sympathetic to Churchill, but balanced it by pointing out his flaws along with his shining moments. In the process of filling out my understanding of Churchill reading this book was informative in regards to the other "players" around Churchill. Easy to read and chock full of insight on some of the most difficult situations during this period of history. Great book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This is a first-rate biography that is written as if it were fiction, and I mean that as the highest praise. Though perhaps not quite Capote or Berendt, the author wonderfully uses the techniques of fiction writing to make this biography seem like a suspenseful adventure. If, like me, you know only the cartoon outline of Churchill because of his 1940's leading of Britain, you will be astounded by the fuller details of his young life and the marks of his early, developing character. What an inter This is a first-rate biography that is written as if it were fiction, and I mean that as the highest praise. Though perhaps not quite Capote or Berendt, the author wonderfully uses the techniques of fiction writing to make this biography seem like a suspenseful adventure. If, like me, you know only the cartoon outline of Churchill because of his 1940's leading of Britain, you will be astounded by the fuller details of his young life and the marks of his early, developing character. What an interesting soul and what a rise to power! I've been waiting to read a Churchill biography for years, and the reviews of this one persuaded me to take the plunge. You should too.

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