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When he lost it, he would turn on whoever happened to be nearby, and, like other men of his class and generation, he never apologized or explained, though later he would go out of his way to mollify the injured party by, say, complimenting him on his handwriting, or by murmuring, “You know, I may seem to be very fierce, but I am fierce with only one man, Hitler.” On June 27, the week of the French surrender, Clementine wrote him the lone truly personal letter that passed between them that year.

She directed his attention to a potentially disastrous state of affairs in immediate need of prime ministerial intervention: his behavior toward his staff.

He wanted to make all decisions because, Sir Ian Jacob recalled, “he was determined to be Number One.” Jacob served as military assistant secretary to the War Cabinet during the war, and came to know Churchill’s obstinacy well.

More than twenty years in the making, THE LAST LION presents a revelatory and unparalleled portrait of this brilliant, flawed, and dynamic leader. William Manchester was a hugely successful popular historian and biographer whose books include The Last Lion, Volumes 1 and 2, Goodbye Darkness, A World Lit Only by Fire, The Glory and the Dream, The Arms of Krupp, American Caesar, The Death of the President, and assorted works of journalism. In late 2003 his friend, William Manchester, in failing health, asked Paul to complete The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm. On June 21, 1940, the first day of summer, Winston Churchill was the most visible man in England.

France accepted Hitler’s surrender terms that day and, with virtually all of Europe now under the swastika, with the Soviet Union a Nazi accomplice, and the United States isolationist, Britain and the Dominions confronted the Third Reich alone.

Prime minister for only six weeks, Churchill was defending more than his island home. He was a multifarious individual, including within one man a whole troupe of characters, some of them subversive of one another and none feigned. 10 Downing Street everyone referred to the newly appointed sixty-five-year-old P. as “the Old Man.” In many ways he was an alarming master. He was self-centered and could be shockingly inconsiderate.

As first minister of the Crown he was also the central figure of the British Empire, then extant, comprising almost one-quarter of Earth’s landmass and almost a quarter of its population. Because of his lisp, and because he growled so often, his speech was often hard to follow, and aides had to learn what he meant when he referred to “that moon-faced man in the Foreign Office” or “Lord Left-leg-limps.” Although he never actually overruled his military advisers, he refused to delegate any of the prime minister’s powers to his staff.

The long-awaited final volume of William Manchester's legendary biography of Winston Churchill.

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