Books and arts Book review Winston Churchill's other lives
No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money. By David Lough.
Winston Churchill Reporting: Adventures of a Young War Correspondent. By Simon Read.
HISTORIANS and many members of the public already know that Winston Churchill often took high-stakes gambles in his political life.
Some, like the disastrous Dardanelles campaign—an audacious attempt he masterminded at the Admiralty to seize the straits of Gallipoli and knock Turkey out of the first world war—he got wrong.
Others, notably his decision as prime minister in 1940 to hold out against Nazi Germany until America came to rescue Britain, he got spectacularly right.
But the extent to which Churchill was a gambler in other spheres of his life has tended not to catch his biographers' attention.
Two new books attempt to fill this gap.
The first is “No More Champagne” by David Lough, a private-banker-turned-historian who looks at Churchill's personal finances during the ups and downs of his career.
It is the first biography to focus on this aspect of his life.
Mr Lough has trawled through Churchill's personal accounts and found that he was as much a risk-taker when it came to his money as he was when he was making decisions at the Admiralty or in Downing Street.
Although Churchill was descended from the Dukes of Marlborough, his parents had “very little money on either side”—though that never stopped them living the high life.
Neither did it hamper the young Churchill;
he spent wildly on everything from polo ponies to Havana cigars, a habit he picked up as a war correspondent in Cuba.
Indeed, between 1908 and 1914 the Churchill household spent an average of 1,160 on wine alone each year—104,400 ($145,000) in today's money.
It is no wonder, then, that Churchill spent most of his life leaping from one cash flow crisis to another, being perennially behind with his suppliers' bills.
A nother new book, “Winston Churchill Reporting”, by Simon Read, an American journalist, looks at one of the ways Churchill eventually paid some of them: writing.
Mr Read investigates how Churchill went from a young army officer cadet to being Britain's highest-earning war correspondent by the age of 25, getting the journalism bug for the rest of his life.
The Churchill name certainly helped open newspaper editors' doors across London.
But it was the extent to which the young reporter was willing to take risks on battlefields across the world that marked out his columns from those of his contemporaries.