I bring you another one of Pen & Sword Books, a pretty new experience for me, and one I recommend.
Churchill: A Graphic Biography by By Vincent Delmas, François Kersaudy, Foreword by Andrew. Roberts, Illustrations by Alessio Cammardella and Christophe Regnault
A full and wholly fair representation of the most adventurous life in the history of British politics. There is not a word I would have changed in the text of this excellent graphical account’ – Andrew Roberts.
Sir Winston Churchill is considered one of the most important figures of the 20th Century. This innovative graphic biography tells his extraordinary story, from his upbringing, through his military exploits and experience of the First World War, to his pivotal role in the Second World War. It explores the details of Churchill’s life within its historical and political context and brings the story to vivid life with precision, clarity and stunning visuals.
With a foreword by leading Churchill historian Andrew Roberts, the biography is followed by a series of information pages on Churchill and the War, providing further background to the story and the opportunity to explore some of the ideas in the book in more detail. Beautifully drawn, bursting with facts and highly accessible, this graphic biography will introduce a whole new generation of readers to Churchill’s incredible career and important legacy.
About the authors:
About Francois Kersaudy
Born in 1948, François Kersaudy, OBE, FRSL, is a former research fellow at Keble College, Oxford, and a professor at the University of Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne. Known in the UK for this two books Churchill and de Gaulle and Norway 1940 (Collins, 1981 and 1990 ) he also wrote the only French biographies of Goering, Mountbatten and MacArthur, and is best known in France for his prize-winning biography of Winston Churchill (Tallandier, 2000). Professor Kersaudy is also a chronicler writing for the French weekly Le Point.fr.
About Andrew. Roberts
Andrew Roberts is a British historian and journalist. His modern works have focused on World War II figures, and his work was the basis for the BBC series Hitler and Churchill (2013). He won the 2010 British Army Military Book of the Year for The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War (2009) and the Prix du Jury des Grand Prix de la Fondation Napoléon in 2014 for won the award for Napoleon the Great.
Roberts is currently a Visiting Professor at King’s College London and a Lehrman Institute Distinguished Lecturer at the New York Historical Society. He regularly writes for publications such as The Spectator and The Daily Telegraph.
Thanks to Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for sending me an early paperback copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.
I am not a big reader of graphic novels and books (I used to read them when I was younger but not that much in recent years), but this title caught my attention due to the subject and to the authors and contributors. The book, which was first published in French in 2018, had some excellent reviews, and although I’m not an expert, in my opinion, they are well deserved.
The book is not a full biography (we don’t see the great man die), but we follow him from early childhood until the end of World War II, and special attention is given to the war period. The book also includes a foreword by Andrew Roberts —an expert on Churchill who has written about him and about WWII— endorsing the book, and an introduction (with B&W and colour photographs) and brief biography of Churchill by François Kersaudy, historical consultant of the volume, which further enhances the content.
The illustrations are beautiful and well-executed, in a classical style, with an interesting use of colours and shadows. Although they are in full colour, green, ochre, brown, and dark hues predominate from the beginning, as if foreshadowing the coming war, and the last part of the book (approximately the last fifty pages) are dedicated fully to World War II. There is a predominance of illustrations about his public life (as a war reporter, in the military, and later as a politician), but there are also some about his personal life, where we get to see Churchill, the man. The moments of action are interspersed with some quieter ones, although the illustrations dealing with the war, attacks, and action, are particularly fine and impressive. The text complements the images perfectly, and the writer has chosen the materials well, highlighting snippets of speeches and expressions he is well known for. That does not mean the book paints an unrealistic picture of Churchill, showing him as heroic and always right, without flaws or foibles. The man emerges from the picture as well, with his stubbornness, his recklessness at times, and his determination to do whatever necessary (not always the most suitable attitude for a politician, although the opposite isn’t particularly desirable either).
This is a great book to introduce Churchill to people of all ages who might not be too familiar with his biography or know very little about him, who like to experiment with other formats rather than the standard book or are fans of graphic novels and books, and who enjoy their history in a bite-size and visual format. The book is larger than a standard paperback, and it would make a beautiful present for anybody interested in the subject, in WWII, or just fans of graphic novels. It’s also particularly appealing at this time of crisis, when the role of politicians has come to the fore, and it’s impossible not to compare our current leaders with some memorable figures from the past and wonder how they might have dealt with the situation.
(There are, of course, action scenes depicting the war, although not particularly gross or explicitly gore, although parents of very young children might want to check the book themselves beforehand).
Thanks to Rosie, Pen & Sword and the authors and translator, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep smiling and stay safe.