Thursday, April 29, 2010

Churchill by Paul Johnson

Although small as compared to the various compendiums that have been written about Mr. Churchill, this book is a very top-level survey of his life and the interesting aspects of what he accomplished. It’s quite enjoyable and there’s an audio download version read by the author (who’s an extremely good narrator and reader).

What I found most interesting in this book was how the author distilled the lessons of Churchill’s life. I believe these are the author’s construction rather than Churchill’s, but they appear in the book and are illustrated with great circumstances and events in Churchill’s life. Here they are in brief:
  1. Aim high. If you aim lower, you’ll achieve less.
  2. Encourage hard work. In addition to all that Churchill accomplished during his life (more than two million written words), he produced hundreds of paintings, and on his farm in Chartwell he built many buildings, several lakes, and other enhancements to the pastoral value of the property. Churchill led an incredibly busy and productive life.
  3. Stay above the fray. Forgive and move on. Churchill seemed to be a master of living his life episodically. As one episode ended, another began, and he rarely went back to the previous episodes.
  4. Avoid the negative. Replace enmity with friendship. Churchill clearly was a friend maker. He rarely, if ever, held a grudge, at least publicly. And while he was roundly disliked by many powerful people, the attributes already mentioned is how he overpowered that negativity.
  5. Search for joy. Churchill was a happy person with people. He relished and found humor in most everything in which he was engaged. Like so many successful politicians, it was the people aspect of life that gave him the most energy and perspective, and in return they gave him power and the opportunity to use it.
For more on Winston Churchill, visit http://www.winstonchurchill.org/, the Web site for the U.S.-based organization that helps maintain chapters across the United States and Canada, as well as university programs in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

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