Winston Churchill, British war hero, brilliant military tactician, and prime minister, was a towering figure, an icon of the 20th century. When he came to power in the wake of Neville Chamberlain's failed appeasement strategy in May 1940, Churchill inherited a war-torn country on the brink of military disaster.
Yet Churchill persevered, and convinced his fellow countrymen to do the same. In his first speech to the House of Commons as Prime Minister, Churchill explained, "The Battle of France is over, and I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin."
He continued, "Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization… Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'"
Churchill's relationship with President Franklin Roosevelt was instrumental to American involvement in World War II, and the Allied strategy. Though Britain voted Churchill out of office in 1945, his influence continued until his death twenty years later.
Historian and author William Manchester set out to publish a three-part biography of Winston Churchill. He wrote the first two in the 1980s, but the third was delayed by writer’s block, and then Manchester suffered two massive strokes.
William Manchester died in 2004, but before his death, he enlisted journalist Paul Reid to finish his lifelong work. The result is "The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm 1940-1965."