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LIBROS EN Y POR WINSTON CHURCHILL

LIBROS EN Y POR WINSTON CHURCHILL

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Libros de Churchill

Marlborough: His Life and Times, Libro 1, Winston S. Churchill, Reedición de 2003, 1050 páginas. Una de las grandes obras históricas de Churchill, escrita para restaurar la fama y reputación de su antepasado más famoso. Esta edición de dos volúmenes contiene el texto completo, escrito mientras Churchill estaba en el desierto político durante la década de 1930.


Marlborough: His Life and Times, Libro 2, Winston S. Churchill, Reedición de 2002, 1080 páginas. La segunda mitad de esta reedición en dos volúmenes de la gran biografía de Winston Churchill sobre su antepasado.

La Segunda Guerra Mundial: I: La tormenta que se avecina, Winston S. Churchill. El primer volumen de una de las historias clásicas de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Churchill estuvo cerca del centro de muchos de los eventos cubiertos en este libro, aunque no se convirtió en Primer Ministro hasta el final del período cubierto. La primera mitad de este libro analiza el ascenso de Hitler y el camino hacia la guerra, mientras que la segunda mitad cubre la invasión de Polonia, la guerra falsa y la campaña en Noruega, antes de terminar con los eventos que llevaron a Churchill al número 10 [ ver más]


La Segunda Guerra Mundial: III: La Gran Alianza, Winston S. Churchill. El Libro Tres de la gran historia de Churchill de la Segunda Guerra Mundial cubre los eventos de 1941. Gran Bretaña comenzó el año luchando sola contra la Alemania de Hitler, pero lo terminó como parte de la Gran Alianza con los Estados Unidos y la Unión Soviética. A pesar de este tema generalmente positivo, este fue un período oscuro, con Pearl Harbor y las rápidas conquistas japonesas en el este, y enormes avances alemanes en Rusia [ver más].


10 logros principales de Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill (1874 y # 8211 1965) es más famoso por liderar con éxito a Gran Bretaña durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Aunque perdió las elecciones después de la guerra, Churchill sirvió un segundo mandato como Primer Ministro del Reino Unido desde 1951 hasta 1955. Antes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, ocupó varios puestos destacados en el parlamento, incluidos Presidente de la Junta de Comercio (1908 & # 8211 1910), Secretario del Interior (1910 & # 8211 1911), Primer Lord del Almirantazgo (1911 & # 8211 1915), Secretario de Estado para la Guerra (1919 & # 8211 1921), Secretario de Estado para las Colonias (1921 & # 8211 1922) y Ministro de Hacienda (1924 & # 8211 1929). Churchill también fue un destacado escritor de no ficción y ganó el 1953 Premio Nobel de Literatura. Conozca más sobre la carrera política de Churchill antes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, su liderazgo durante la guerra, su carrera como escritor y otras contribuciones, a través de sus 10 logros principales.


La vida de Ulysses S. Grant ha sido típicamente mal entendida. Con demasiada frecuencia se le caricaturiza como un perdedor crónico y un hombre de negocios inepto o como el triunfante pero brutal general de la Unión de la Guerra Civil. Pero estos estereotipos no se acercan a capturarlo, como Chernow revela en su magistral biografía, la primera en brindar una comprensión completa del general y presidente cuyas fortunas subieron y bajaron con una velocidad y frecuencia vertiginosas.


Pamela, Randolph y Winston: La discordia de los Churchills en tiempos de guerra

Josh Ireland es el autor de la recién estrenada Churchill e hijo. Ha escrito para el Telegrafo diario, Perspectiva, Espectador, y el Suplemento literario Times y es el autor de Los traidores: una historia real de sangre, traición y engaño, un relato de cuatro británicos que traicionaron a su país durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Pamela Digby, fotografiada en 1938, antes de su breve noviazgo y tumultuoso matrimonio (1939-1945) con Randolph Churchill.

En la primavera de 1941, Averell Harriman, enviado especial de Roosevelt & rsquos a Gran Bretaña, inició una aventura. Que tanto él como la mujer en cuestión estuvieran casados ​​no era un gran problema, había reglas diferentes en tiempos de guerra. Lo que era más complicado era la identidad de la mujer y el marido de rsquos: Randolph Churchill, el primer ministro británico y rsquos adorado, mimado y turbulento hijo.

Randolph había comenzado la Segunda Guerra Mundial desesperado por dos cosas. Quería estar donde la lucha fuera más feroz y estaba ansioso por encontrar una esposa que pudiera dar a luz a su hijo. Ambas eran formas de complacer a su padre, que daba mucha importancia a la valentía física y estaba obsesionado con la idea de construir una poderosa dinastía política. Randolph, sentía, tenía el deber de asegurarse de que la línea continuara.

La primera ambición de Randolph & rsquos se vio obstaculizada por la calma artificial que siguió a la invasión de Hitler & rsquos a Polonia, así como por la renuencia de su padre & rsquos a que lo volviera a publicar. Tuvo más éxito en lograr el segundo. En el transcurso de quince días propuso y fue rechazado por ocho mujeres. Luego conoció a Pamela Digby.

Pamela tenía los ojos muy abiertos de un azul profundo, las mejillas enrojecidas y el cabello castaño rojizo con mechas blancas. Algunos la veían como una pequeña cosa pelirroja que rebotaba considerada como una broma por sus contemporáneos, pero debajo de la gordura y un aire forzado de alegría había un deseo inflexible de escapar de su aburrida y provinciana vida en Dorset.

Winston la abrazó de inmediato. Pamela pronto se convirtió en una parte esencial de la familia Churchill, especialmente una vez que Winston se convirtió en primer ministro y se mudaron a Downing Street. Tenía un extraño instinto para sentir lo que la gente necesitaba y luego dárselo casi antes de que se dieran cuenta. Ella era una fuente de apoyo para un Winston asediado, y una confidente muy necesaria para su esposa, la solitaria Clementine. En octubre de 1940 dio a luz a un niño, inevitablemente llamado Winston.

El único problema era su marido. Randolph era encantador, inteligente, generoso y divertido. La mayor parte del tiempo. También era grosero, arrogante e incapaz de entender por qué el matrimonio debería impedirle acostarse con otras mujeres. Todas estas cualidades se veían exacerbadas cuando bebía, lo que hacía incontrolablemente.

Se acumularon facturas y argumentos. Cuando Randolph se comportaba de manera espantosa, o acumulaba deudas que no podía cubrir, Pamela corría con sus padres en busca de ayuda. Ellos, cada vez más, se pusieron de su lado, lo que era otra fuente de fricción en una red de relaciones ya tensa.

Fue después de que Randolph finalmente consiguiera su destino en el extranjero cuando realmente comenzaron los problemas. En enero de 1941, su unidad Commando zarpó hacia Egipto. Antes incluso de que su barco hubiera atracado al otro lado del Atlántico, perdió más en la mesa de juego de lo que posiblemente podría devolver. Una vez que Pamela solucionó el desastre financiero que su descarriado esposo le había impuesto, con destreza y determinación comenzó a forjarse una vida nueva e independiente para sí misma. Antes del final de la primavera, había comenzado a dormir con Harriman.

Randolph estaba incandescente cuando descubrió la infidelidad de su esposa y rsquos. Esto se debía en gran parte a que estaba convencido de que su padre, al menos, había tolerado, y en el peor de los casos, había alentado, una aventura que se estaba llevando a cabo bajo sus narices. Después de todo, la situación presentaba una clara ventaja política para Winston. Y así, aunque Pamela no creó las tensiones que corren entre padre e hijo, ellos tenían una larga historia propia y sus acciones llevaron las cosas a un punto crítico.

El vínculo entre Winston y Randolph & rsquos siempre había tenido una intensidad casi romántica. Winston estaba obsesionado con su hijo, afirmando que no sería capaz de seguir liderando el país si algo le sucediera. Randolph estaba dedicado a su padre. Habían pasado la última década viviendo en los bolsillos de los demás: bebiendo, conspirando, apostando, hablando y peleando. Pero esta cercanía enmascara algunas dificultades profundas.

A lo largo de su vida, Randolph había luchado por encontrar una manera de casar las enormes expectativas que Winston había puesto sobre sus hombros con la necesidad de brindar a su padre la asfixiante lealtad que exigía. Cada vez que Randolph intentaba crear una oportunidad para sí mismo, o intentaba afirmar una posición independiente, se encontraba acusado de sabotaje. Había sido el defensor más apasionado de Winston & rsquos durante su tiempo en el desierto, una fuente inagotable de afecto y tranquilidad. Y, sin embargo, cuando Winston formó su gobierno en 1940, no había lugar para Randolph. Todo esto había permanecido bajo la superficie durante años, ahora estalló.

Volátiles, incapaces de controlar sus emociones, los dos hombres se lanzaron en filas que asustaron a cualquiera que los presenciara. Winston se enojó tanto que Clementine temió que le diera un ataque al corazón. Randolph salió de las habitaciones llorando y jurando que nunca volvería a ver a su padre.

Aunque se restauró una frágil paz, no pudo durar. Randolph fue incapaz de reconciliar el profundo amor animal que sentía por su padre con lo que consideraba una traición de Winston & rsquos. Tampoco podía entender por qué sus padres seguían mostrándole a Pamela tan abierto afecto. Winston reaccionó violentamente a los reproches de su hijo y rsquos. Envuelto en su propio sentido del destino, e incapaz de leer jamás lo que estaba pasando en el corazón de otra persona, no se dio cuenta de que había hecho nada malo. Mientras Pamela pasaba serenamente de un asunto a otro, padre e hijo peleaban, una y otra vez, abriendo heridas cada vez más profundas.

El divorcio de Randolph y Pamela & rsquos se confirmó en 1945. Randolph podría sobrevivir a esto, pero el daño a su relación con Winston fue irreparable. Nunca recuperarían la intimidad que habían disfrutado antes de la guerra. Randolph se había casado con Pamela para hacer feliz a su padre y, sin embargo, solo logró alienar al hombre que amaba más que a nadie en el planeta.


Repensar a Winston Churchill y Neville Chamberlain

Cuando compra un libro revisado de forma independiente a través de nuestro sitio, ganamos una comisión de afiliado.

GRAN BRETAÑA EN LA BAHÍA
La épica historia de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, 1938-1941
Por Alan Allport

“En una fase los hombres parecen haber tenido razón, en otra parece que se han equivocado. ... La historia, con su lámpara parpadeante, se tambalea por el rastro del pasado, tratando de reconstruir sus escenas ". Esas fueron las palabras de Winston Churchill en uno de los discursos más grandes, aunque menos recordados, de su vida, su elegía por Neville Chamberlain días después de la muerte de Chamberlain en noviembre de 1940. Siguen siendo singularmente aptas para los años anteriores y posteriores al discurso de Churchill. Esa historia, de cómo los británicos se encontraron en guerra y luego cómo sobrevivieron, es el tema de "Britain at Bay" de Alan Allport.

Autor de varios libros, incluido un valioso estudio de los militares británicos en 1939-45, Allport comienza con un capítulo llamado "Shire Folk". Esta alusión a Tolkien se convierte en un riff en el que luego juega a lo largo del libro, y uno desafortunado para este crítico, que desde la infancia sufre de hobbitofobia aguda. Pero el punto que Allport quiere hacer es bueno: los británicos se veían a sí mismos como un pueblo amable, gentil y desconcertado, como esos adorables bichos de la Comarca, que no era como los demás siempre los veían.

En un giro brusco, cuando este libro inusualmente informativo y estimulante realmente se pone en marcha, Allport toma dos instantáneas de violencia. Coventry fue bombardeada por la Luftwaffe en noviembre de 1940, pero ya había sido bombardeada por el Ejército Republicano Irlandés en agosto de 1939, cuando cinco personas murieron por un explosivo colocado en una calle comercial. Los ingleses habían tratado de olvidar o ignorar a Irlanda desde 1921, como Allport nos recuerda en un capítulo titulado “Ulster Kristallnacht"(Le gustan las frases provocativas: otro capítulo se llama" American Lebensraum”). Una segunda instantánea, de Palestina durante la Revuelta Árabe de 1936-39, muestra las espantosas represalias de los soldados británicos.

Si esto arroja una luz clara sobre la complacencia y la autoestima de los ingleses, Allport también cuestiona otros mitos, como "The Hungry Thirties": a finales de la década, el país "era mucho más próspero de lo que había sido una generación antes". Un hombre que podía atribuirse mucho mérito por ello era Neville Chamberlain, como ministro de Hacienda de 1931 a 1937, y antes como ministro de salud de 1924 a 1929, cuando había sido responsable de mucho más del sistema de bienestar público que generalmente se recuerda. En cambio, es vilipendiado por intentar y no evitar la guerra, y Allport se une y califica a Chamberlain de "vanidoso, mezquino ... rencoroso, obstinado".

Dicen que no hay gustos en disputa y, así como no comparto el cariño de Allport por la Comarca, tampoco comparto su odio por Chamberlain, que tenía otro lado, un profundo amor por la naturaleza: el hombre que, como canciller luchando con una crisis severa, pudo escribir a The London Times en enero de 1933 para decir que, mientras caminaba por St. James's Park, notó algo que nunca había visto antes en Londres, "una lavandera gris ... represa."

No es que su afinidad con el mundo natural le sirviera de nada cuando tuvo que lidiar con Hitler, que estaba más allá de su comprensión. Allport reconoce correctamente que el Acuerdo de Múnich fue una expresión del principio de autodeterminación de Woodrow Wilson, y destaca el interesante punto de que "el escepticismo sobre la democracia en la década de 1930 se sintió particularmente entre aquellos que se oponían al apaciguamiento de Hitler por parte del Gobierno Nacional". Richard Law, un M.P. quien atacó amargamente el Acuerdo de Munich, pensó que la emancipación de las mujeres no había "traído más que degradación y deshonra a la política", mientras que Churchill, que se había opuesto al voto de las mujeres hasta 1918, tenía puntos de vista "sorprendentemente complicados" sobre la democracia.

Muchas otras ideas recibidas están hábilmente ensartadas. Churchill estaba equivocado sobre el tipo de fuerzas y armas necesarias. “Un ejército terrestre más grande fue la única medida de rearme que los británicos pudieron haber llevado a cabo y que posiblemente hizo que Hitler se detuviera a pensar en la década de 1930”, escribe Allport, pero Churchill estaba tan poco dispuesto a apoyar eso como cualquier apaciguador. Y esto prepara el escenario para la mejor hora. El ascenso de Churchill al poder fue tan notable como providencial, ya que en sus 40 años en el Parlamento se había convertido en uno de los políticos más odiados y desconfiados de su época. Si se convirtió en un líder nacional admirado fue “porque pasó a ocupar un puesto que en ese momento necesitaba ocupar con urgencia”.

Si bien el tríptico de Dunkerque de 1940, la batalla de Gran Bretaña y el Blitz se convirtió en la epopeya fundacional de nuestra pequeña y húmeda isla desde entonces, hay otro tema importante aquí. Últimamente, los estadounidenses parecen haberse persuadido a sí mismos de que Churchill's Finest Hour era parte de su propia historia: vea el gran éxito hace tres años de las películas "Dunkirk" y la ridícula "Darkest Hour", y también lo que Allport llama historias empalagosas de Franklin y Winston. De hecho, Franklin Roosevelt había conocido a Churchill en 1918 y no le agradaba. Ahora su embajador en Londres, el horrible, corrupto, antisemita y derrotista Joe Kennedy, le dijo que Churchill era un inútil y que Inglaterra estaba acabada.

Kennedy tampoco estaba solo. A finales de junio de 1940, una encuesta reveló que sólo uno de cada tres estadounidenses esperaba que los británicos ganaran la guerra, y el propio Roosevelt no se mostró mucho más confiado hasta finales de año. Allport tiene algunas palabras agudas y bien elegidas sobre los estadounidenses que se burlan de Chamberlain, "halagándose a sí mismos y a su propia fortaleza en comparación". Agrega que "Estados Unidos iba a tener una Segunda Guerra Mundial muy afortunada", sufriendo bajas relativamente modestas antes de salir enormemente más rico y más poderoso de una guerra que llevó a Inglaterra a la bancarrota.

A fines de 1940, y después de los primeros meses del Blitz (o "La limpieza de la gente de la comarca", bueno), murieron más civiles británicos que soldados, como sucedía todavía a fines de 1942. Se produjo un rápido éxito en el norte de África. por una derrota sin fin, allí, en Grecia y en Creta en mayo de 1941 (un recuerdo personal: el hermano de mi madre, mi tío Bob, fue uno de los más de 10.000 soldados británicos que quedaron en Creta para pasar cuatro años en campos de prisioneros).

Además, hubo dos campañas contrastantes. Bombardear Alemania, como era de esperar, fue popular entre los británicos ("la RAF me lo está dando peor de lo que lo" anunciamos "), pero fue un fracaso desastroso durante más de dos años, personificado por una redada en septiembre de 1941 que mató a 36 berlineses mientras que 15 aviones con 87 tripulantes se perdieron. Incluso cuando los bondadosos ingleses finalmente destruyeron todas las ciudades de Alemania y mataron a cientos de miles de mujeres y niños, hubo poca diferencia en el resultado de la guerra. Pero la Batalla del Atlántico fue crucial, heroica y finalmente triunfante. Churchill afirmó después que la amenaza de los submarinos era "lo único que realmente me asustó", olvidando lo que había dicho en 1939, que "el submarino ha sido dominado". Allport califica a Churchill como “el primer ministro más asertivo, polémico y dogmático de la historia”, lo que demuestra que su juicio militar antes y durante la guerra a menudo era tremendamente equivocado.

En junio de 1941, Hitler invadió Rusia, sellando finalmente su destino, aunque eso estaba lejos de estar claro en ese momento, y en agosto Churchill y Roosevelt se encontraron frente a la costa de Terranova. Durante más de un año, "Churchill había estado asegurando a sus colegas en Londres que Roosevelt estaba ansioso por luchar", dice Allport, pero después de la reunión "tuvo que aceptar la posibilidad de que el presidente realmente lo dijera en serio cuando dijo que quería". mantener a Estados Unidos fuera de la guerra ". Todavía no fue a la guerra en septiembre, cuando los buques de guerra estadounidenses luchaban contra submarinos, lo que Allport llama uno de los tres episodios críticos de ese mes.

Otro fue el acuerdo privado de los líderes japoneses de que la guerra ahora podría ser necesaria. Y el tercero fue la decisión tomada por Churchill y sus colegas de proceder con lo que un grupo de científicos había dicho que sería factible, fabricar una bomba de uranio que era "equivalente ... a 1.800 toneladas de TNT" y cuyo efecto secundario radiactivo "haría lugares cerca de donde explotó la bomba peligrosa para la vida humana ". Los gentiles ingleses se convirtieron en las primeras personas en "comprometerse con un programa de armas nucleares", escribe Allport. Termina su valioso libro con un poco de baño pero correctamente: “La guerra iba a ser muy diferente a partir de este momento”.


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Principales reseñas de otros países

Excelente introducción a estos dos líderes mundiales. Me sorprendió lo poco que sabía sobre ellos. Me gustó que el libro no solo hablara de sus roles durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, sino que te dio una idea de los hombres mismos. Desde su infancia hasta su muerte, se podía ver qué los había influido y cómo ellos, a su vez, influían en los demás.

Toda la serie de libros Historia cautivadora está escrita como libros breves y fáciles de leer, diseñados para presentarle un período específico de la historia o una persona en particular que ayudó a dar forma a la historia. Dan suficiente información sin empantanarse demasiado en solo nombres y fechas. Escritas para adolescentes y adultos jóvenes, son un excelente punto de partida en su búsqueda de información. Tengo 61 años y aprecio que estos libros llenen los vacíos en lo que pensé que sabía sobre Historia.

Estos 2 libros se han publicado por separado, PERO este conjunto ahora tiene una introducción diferente Y incluye información sobre su relación entre ellos y / o un poco más de detalle al respecto.

Explore las vidas y la relación de dos grandes líderes: Churchill y Roosevelt Free History BONUS Inside! Dos manuscritos cautivadores en un libro: Winston Churchill: Una guía cautivadora de la vida de Winston S. Churchill y Franklin Roosevelt: Una guía cautivadora de la vida de FDR
Cualquier biografía general de Churchill y Roosevelt proporcionará una descripción general de sus mayores logros, pero Winston y Franklin tenían otras metas y deseos que a menudo se ignoran y se olvidan. ¿Que eran? Ambos tenían una familia, una infancia e hijos propios, y una carrera política fenomenal. Este libro examinará su relación, así como su vida individual.

Historia mundial: cautivadoras historias de eventos que dieron forma a nuestro planeta (Historia olvidada, Historia del mundo, Libros de historia)
Winston Churchill: una guía cautivadora de la vida de Winston S. Churchill
Franklin Roosevelt: una guía cautivadora para la vida de FDR
Churchill y Roosevelt: una guía cautivadora de la vida de Franklin y Winston
Revolución haitiana: una guía cautivadora para la abolición de la esclavitud
Adolf Hitler: una guía cautivadora sobre la vida del Führer de la Alemania nazi

Mitología nórdica: cautivadoras historias de dioses, sagas y héroes (Mitología nórdica - Mitología egipcia - Mitología griega Libro 1)
Mitología egipcia: cautivadoras historias de dioses, diosas, monstruos y mortales (Mitología nórdica - Mitología egipcia - Mitología griega Libro 2)
Mitología griega: una guía cautivadora de los dioses, diosas, héroes y monstruos antiguos (Mitología nórdica - Mitología egipcia - Mitología griega Libro 3)
Mitología: una guía cautivadora de la mitología griega, la mitología egipcia y la mitología nórdica (Mitología nórdica - Mitología egipcia - Mitología griega Libro 4
Mitología griega: una guía fascinante para comprender la religión griega antigua con sus dioses, diosas, monstruos y mortales (Mitología griega - Mitología nórdica - Mitología egipcia Libro 1)
Mitología nórdica: una guía fascinante para comprender las sagas, los dioses, los héroes y las creencias de los vikingos (Mitología griega - Mitología nórdica - Mitología egipcia Libro 2)
Mitología egipcia: una guía fascinante para comprender a los dioses, diosas, monstruos y mortales (Mitología griega - Mitología nórdica - Mitología egipcia Libro 3)


Franklin y Winston: un retrato íntimo de una amistad épica

Franklin Roosevelt y Winston Churchill fueron los líderes más importantes de "la generación más grande". En Franklin y Winston, Jon Meacham explora la fascinante relación entre los dos hombres que pilotearon el mundo libre hasta la victoria en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Fue una amistad crucial y única: un presidente y un primer ministro pasaron una enorme cantidad de tiempo juntos (113 días durante la guerra) e intercambiaron casi dos mil mensajes. En medio de cócteles, cigarrillos y puros, se reunieron, a menudo en secreto, en lugares tan lejanos como Washington, Hyde Park, Casablanca y Teherán, hablando entre ellos sobre la guerra, la política, la carga del mando, su salud, sus esposas. y sus hijos.

Roosevelt y Churchill, nacidos en el siglo XIX y moldeadores del XX y XXI, tenían mucho en común. Hijos de la élite, estudiosos de historia, políticos de primer orden, saborearon el poder. En su propio tiempo, ambos hombres fueron subestimados, descartados como arrogantes y se enfrentaron a escépticos y odiadores en sus propias naciones; sin embargo, ambos se enfrentaron magníficamente a los desafíos centrales del siglo XX. La suya era una especie de historia de amor, con un Churchill emocional cortejando a un elusivo Roosevelt. El primer ministro británico, que reunió a su nación en su hora más oscura, enfrentándose solo a Adolf Hitler, siempre estuvo algo inseguro sobre su lugar en los afectos de FDR, que era la forma en que Roosevelt lo quería. Un hombre de secretos, a FDR le gustaba mantener a la gente fuera de balance, incluida su esposa, Eleanor, sus ayudantes de la Casa Blanca y Winston Churchill.

Enfrentando la tiranía y el terror, Roosevelt y Churchill construyeron una alianza victoriosa en medio de eventos catastróficos y ocasionalmente intereses en conflicto. Franklin y Winston es también la historia de sus matrimonios y sus familias, dos clanes atrapados en el conflicto global más amplio de la historia.

Las nuevas fuentes de Meacham, incluidas las cartas inéditas del gran amor secreto de FDR, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, los documentos de Pamela Churchill Harriman y las entrevistas con las pocas personas supervivientes que estaban en FDR y la compañía conjunta de Churchill, arrojaron nueva luz sobre los personajes de ambos. hombres mientras relata de manera cautivadora las horas en las que decidieron el curso de la lucha.

Hitler los unió más tarde en la guerra, se separaron, pero incluso en el otoño de su alianza, la atracción del afecto siempre estuvo ahí. Trazando el drama personal detrás de las discusiones sobre estrategia y arte de gobernar, Meacham ha escrito el relato definitivo de la amistad más notable de la era moderna.


Vidas dobles: una historia de sexo y secretismo en Westminster

Ahora hay 32 parlamentarios abiertamente homosexuales, pero durante gran parte del siglo XX muchos políticos se vieron obligados a llevar una vida sexual compleja y clandestina. Michael Bloch cuenta sus historias y saluda sus poderes de subterfugio

Última modificación el viernes 19 de febrero de 2021 17.59 GMT

Desde 1885, cuando la enmienda Labouchere creó el nuevo delito de indecencia grave, hasta 1967, cuando se aprobaron las recomendaciones del comité Wolfenden, todo comportamiento homosexual era ilegal en Gran Bretaña. Continuó atrayendo una intensa desaprobación social durante mucho tiempo después de eso: hasta 1993, según la encuesta anual británica de actitudes sociales, la mayoría de la gente todavía lo consideraba "siempre incorrecto". En esta atmósfera cruel y antiliberal, los políticos con inclinaciones homosexuales tenían que mantenerlos en secreto del público en general y corrían enormes riesgos. Se vieron obligados a reprimir sus sentimientos sexuales y llevar una vida célibe, o bien a llevar una doble vida, complaciendo sus gustos clandestinamente mientras llevaban exteriormente existencias heterosexuales convencionales, a menudo casadas y con hijos.

Sin embargo, paradójicamente, las “reinas del armario” (para usar una expresión que se puso de moda en la década de 1960) a menudo eran políticos efectivos. Eran maestros en el pasado a la hora de guardar secretos y, al asumir riesgos calculados, también eran actores en el escenario de la vida, con un fuerte sentido del espectáculo y un don para la intriga y el subterfugio. Y probablemente había una proporción mucho mayor de homosexuales en la política que en la mayoría de los demás ámbitos de la vida, en parte porque, como actores y tomadores de riesgos, se sentían atraídos por la profesión, y también porque los políticos británicos del siglo XX a menudo tenían alguna educación. - internados para hombres, que fomentaron amistades intensas (a menudo sexuales) entre sus alumnos y proporcionaron una formación no intencionada en el arte de romper las reglas y salirse con la suya.

Me di cuenta de este aspecto de la vida política británica cuando escribí la biografía (publicada después de su muerte el año pasado) de Jeremy Thorpe, el carismático viejo etoniano que dirigió el Partido Liberal de 1967 a 1976. Siempre galante con "las damas", Thorpe se casó dos veces y tuvo un hijo, pero llevó una vida gay promiscua y espeluznante detrás de escena. Cuando se trataba de sexo y política, era un maestro de la intriga, exhibía cualidades seductoras sobresalientes y disfrutaba de su toma de riesgos. Finalmente se vio obligado a renunciar como líder liberal cuando un ex modelo masculino reveló que habían llevado a cabo una aventura muchos años antes, cuando todavía era ilegal y posteriormente fue juzgado en el Old Bailey por presuntamente haber conspirado para asesinar al hombre en cuestión. -Aunque fue absuelto, las revelaciones de su vida sexual y sus esfuerzos a lo largo de los años por encubrirlo lo dejaron como una figura desacreditada.

Jeremy Thorpe en 1977. Fotografía: PA / PA wire

Muchos años antes, otros dos políticos liberales del Viejo Etonio habían visto arruinada su carrera cuando fueron acosados ​​por hombres que afirmaban tener pruebas de sus actividades homosexuales: el quinto conde de Rosebery, primer ministro en la década de 1890, y el séptimo conde de Beauchamp, un ministro del gobierno de 1905 a 1915, posteriormente líder liberal en la Cámara de los Lores. Eran primos, que en parte debieron su éxito inicial a la apariencia atractiva, a ambos se les ofrecieron altos puestos a los 20 y se unieron al gabinete a los 30. Ambos se casaron con herederas fabulosamente ricas: Rosebery, Hannah de Rothschild Beauchamp, la hermana del segundo duque de Westminster. El matrimonio de Rosebery produjo cuatro hijos, Beauchamp no menos de siete, pero ambos se sintieron atraídos emocionalmente por su propio sexo. (Ambos parecen haberse enamorado de sus apuestos hijos menores, por cuyas primeras muertes fueron devastados).

A Rosebery le gustaban las secretarias privadas agradables. Uno de ellos fue Francis, vizconde Drumlanrig, heredero del noveno marqués de Queensberry, por cuyas cualidades Rosebery quedó tan impresionado que dispuso que lo nombraran miembro menor del gobierno a la edad de 26 años. Esto indignó al "loco marqués". ”, Quien estaba convencido de que Rosebery estaba teniendo un romance con su hijo mayor, al igual que creía que Oscar Wilde estaba dirigiendo uno con su hijo menor, Lord Alfred“ Bosie ”Douglas. Las acusaciones de Queensberry fueron consideradas al principio como los desvaríos de un loco, pero recibieron cierta credibilidad cuando en el otoño de 1894, Rosebery se había convertido mientras tanto en primer ministro, Drumlanrig se suicidó. Poco después, Rosebery sufrió un colapso y entró en un estado de reclusión: se decía que estaba aterrorizado de que su nombre fuera mencionado en el caso de difamación que Wilde entabló contra Queensberry. En 1895, menos de un mes después de que Wilde fuera condenado a dos años de trabajos forzados por indecencia grave, Rosebery presentó la dimisión de su gobierno (aunque todavía contaba con una mayoría parlamentaria y no había elecciones).

Lord Rosebery hablando en el Foreign Office, c1900. Fotografía: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Mientras que Rosebery tenía un gusto (posiblemente platónico) por las secretarias, la inclinación (de ninguna manera platónica) de Beauchamp era por los lacayos y los mozos de cuadra. Continuó estas escapadas durante décadas sin ser expuesto, y podría haberlo hecho indefinidamente de no ser por una venganza del duque de Westminster, que estaba resentido porque Beauchamp, a través de su matrimonio con la hermana de Westminster, había tenido tres hijos, mientras que el único heredero varón de Westminster había Murió a los cuatro años. En 1930, los agentes de Westminster obtuvieron declaraciones de ex sirvientes de lo que él llamó su "cuñado", testificando que sus pecadillos enfrentados con esta evidencia, Beauchamp renunció y huyó al exilio. Su historia proporcionó el trasfondo para la novela de Evelyn Waugh. Brideshead revisitadoLord Marchmain, el distinguido compañero obligado a vivir en el extranjero, se basa en Beauchamp, mientras que su hijo, el hermoso pero descarriado Sebastian, se basa en el adorado hijo menor de Beauchamp, Hughie, con quien Waugh había tenido intimidad en Oxford.

Como joven oficial de caballería, el viejo Harrovian Winston Churchill fue acusado de haber “participado en actos de gran inmoralidad del tipo Oscar Wilde” con compañeros cadetes en Sandhurst, pero demandó con éxito a su acusador por difamación, y no hay evidencia de que, como un adulto, se involucró en relaciones homosexuales físicas. Sin embargo, estaba lejos de ser francamente heterosexual. Aunque adoraba a su hermosa madre estadounidense, mostró una aversión de por vida a las mujeres. (En la única novela de Churchill Savrola, el héroe obviamente autobiográfico tiene una relación puramente casta con la heroína, obviamente basada en la madre de Churchill.) Parece haber tenido un deseo sexual bajo y casado a sangre fría, a los 33 años, por razones sociales y dinásticas, justo después de haber sido nombrado para el gabinete de Asquith. Though he came to depend on his “Clemmie” in many ways, she was often exasperated by his emotional unresponsiveness and treatment of her as a child-bearer and housekeeper, and more than once considered leaving him.

Winston Churchill c1900. Photograph: Everett/Rex Shutterstock

While he never showed much interest in women other than his wife, Churchill’s life was marked by a series of close platonic relationships with attractive young men. Prominent among these were Eddie Marsh, a civil servant who served devotedly for 25 years as his private secretary, whom Churchill described as “a friend I shall cherish and hold on to all my life” Archie Sinclair, a cavalry officer, whom he chose as his second in command on the western front in 1916, as his personal assistant as war secretary and colonial secretary in 1919-22, and finally (after Sinclair had become leader of the Liberal party) as air minister in 1940 Bob Boothby, the youngest and handsomest MP, whom Churchill, as chancellor of the exchequer in the 1920s, appointed his PPS despite the bumptious Boothby having criticised his policies and Brendan Bracken, a young man on the make whom Churchill (to the horror of his family) effectively adopted in the 1920s and who served as his right-hand man during the 1930s, finally becoming information minister during the second world war. (Of these four, Marsh, who developed crushes on young writers and actors, and Boothby, who had a taste for “rough trade” from the criminal underworld, were certainly predominantly homosexual, and Bracken, though he cloaked his private life in impenetrable secrecy, probably, too.) Like Rosebery and Beauchamp, Churchill seems to have had feelings towards his son, Randolph, that verged on the amorous (another factor that estranged him from his wife, who disliked the boy from birth) – though these feelings cooled as Randolph lost his looks owing to excessive drinking, and became a coarse womaniser. Arguably, the intensely narcissistic and exhibitionistic Churchill was romantically drawn to men rather than women, even if his relations with them stopped short of the physical.

T he long parliament of 1935-45 contained a clandestine fraternity of homosexual and bisexual politicians who knew each other well, were aware of each other’s tastes and often met socially. Boothby featured prominently in this circle, as did his friend the leftwing MP Tom Driberg, who was addicted to having sex with strangers in lavatories (including those of the House of Commons). Another friend of Boothby was the National Labour MP and wartime minister Harold Nicolson Nicolson was an active homosexual married to a lesbian, as was the Conservative MP Viscount “Hinch” Hinchingbrooke. Nicolson had two sons by his wife, the writer Vita Sackville-West, while Hinch’s artist wife Rosemary bore him seven children before leaving him to live with a female companion. Also in the circle were two Conservative MPs and close friends, the American-born Henry “Chips” Channon and the Churchill protege Alan Lennox-Boyd, who married sisters, Guinness heiresses, but enjoyed riotous homosexual adventures behind the scenes. Lennox-Boyd had a distinguished ministerial career in several governments, while Channon achieved posthumous fame with his racy diaries (from which any hint of his gay sex life was expunged when they were published in the 1960s). Other MPs in the coterie included the outrageously camp millionaire aesthete Sir Philip Sassoon, who as undersecretary for air befriended young airmen and seems to have had a close relationship with at least one of them the rich and handsome Sir Paul Latham, who in 1941 became the only serving MP of modern times to go to prison for homosexuality, after attempting to seduce his batman and Malcolm Bullock, a balletomane and former guards officer on close terms with the royal family. All these men undoubtedly enjoyed the sensation of belonging to a secret society, as well as the thrill of danger that their illegal sex-lives involved (though this should not blind us to the fears, disappointments and lack of self-fulfilment suffered by most gay men, including politicians, until recent times).

Bob Boothby, photographed for the Picture Post in 1949. Photograph: Haywood Magee/Getty Images

Boothby is an interesting case, for while continuing relationships with young men he also pursued a long affair, which was common knowledge at Westminster, with Lady Dorothy Macmillan, wife of a fellow Conservative MP, the future prime minister Harold Macmillan it was she who seduced Boothby and made the running throughout the affair. (When asked what he saw in her, Boothby replied that she reminded him of a caddie he had once met on the links at St Andrews.) The affair, and the impression it gave that Boothby was “a ladies’ man”, provided a smokescreen for his homosexual activities, and also proved helpful when, in 1953, he pressed the home secretary, Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, to set up a body to reconsider the law relating to homosexuality. Maxwell Fyfe was a vicious homophobe, then organising the unprecedented national persecution of homosexuals and it is curious that he went out of his way to get the cabinet (which was far from keen on the idea) to appoint a committee to examine the matter, chaired by the former public school headmaster John Wolfenden.

When, in 1957, Wolfenden reported in favour of decriminalising homosexual acts performed between adult males in private, Maxwell Fyfe, now Viscount Kilmuir and lord chancellor, declared that he was “not going down in history as the man who made sodomy legal”. The Conservative government, now led by Macmillan, shared his view, refusing to lay the Wolfenden proposals before parliament and a long campaign began to get them enacted – which they finally were in 1967, thanks to several courageous parliamentarians who sponsored the necessary legislation, notably the charismatic bisexual Welsh Labour MP Leo Abse. The Labour government that then held office was no keener to be associated with the reform than its Conservative predecessor – though time was allowed for a private member’s bill thanks to the efforts of two ministers who, though they had become thoroughly heterosexual, had enjoyed homosexual adventures as Oxford undergraduates: the home secretary, Roy Jenkins, who had been in love with his future cabinet colleague Tony Crosland and the leader of the House of Commons, Richard Crossman, who had had an affair with the poet WH Auden.

I t is ironic that the Macmillan cabinet that resisted implementing Wolfenden seems to have contained more “closet queens” than any other of the century. During the years 1959-60, for example, it contained the following homosexual or bisexual members: the chancellor of the exchequer, Derick Heathcoat-Amory, who narrowly avoided scandal after engaging in frolics with “teddy boys” at Margate the foreign secretary, Selwyn Lloyd, who was in love with his handsome godson and personal assistant Jonathan Aitken and the colonial secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd, who though married with three sons conducted a longstanding relationship with a major in the Coldstream Guards.

The cabinet also included the health secretary, Enoch Powell, who as a classics professor in Australia before the war had written to his parents about his infatuation with his male students and the minister of labour, the unmarried and misogynistic Edward Heath.

Three junior members of the government were obliged to resign owing to homosexual scandal: the Foreign Office minister Ian Harvey, who in 1958 was caught with a guardsman in St James’s Park the Home Office minister Charles Fletcher-Cooke, who in 1961 was found to be living with a former borstal boy and the science minister Denzil Freeth, whom Lord Denning, during his inquiry into the Profumo affair in 1963, discovered to have “attended a party of a homosexual character and there engaged in homosexual conduct”. It was even rumoured that Macmillan himself had been expelled for homosexuality from Eton (where his elder brother Daniel certainly had a “reputation” his lovers including the future economist John Maynard Keynes) – though his latest biographer believes it more likely that he was “removed” from the school by his parents when they discovered that he was being “used” by older boys.

Edward Heath after his election victory in 1970. Photograph: Peter Kemp/AP

Heath, who became Conservative leader and prime minister, seems to have repressed his sexual nature totally in order to realise his political ambitions. He came from modest social origins, which he never tried to conceal: he was not close to his father, a former carpenter who ran a small building firm, but he worshipped his mother, who had a certain refinement, having worked as a lady’s maid in a country house. She adored her “Teddie”, and pressed him to achieve great things. Inspired by her, Heath was the star of his grammar school and won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he became president of both the Union and the Conservative Association. Unlike his Oxford contemporary and future rival, Harold Wilson, Heath was not brilliant, but an intelligent and dedicated plodder. Following distinguished war service, in which he rose to be a colonel in the artillery, he was elected to parliament in 1950 and spent the ensuing decade as a whip, a role to which his personality – upright, thorough, affable but aloof – was ideally suited. That as government chief whip he managed to keep the party together after the Suez debacle of 1956 was a considerable achievement.

The Conservatives elected Heath as their leader in 1965 believing he would help them shed their elitist image, but he was an odd choice, awkward in his behaviour and lacking “the common touch”. It caused surprise when he defeated the charismatic Wilson to become prime minister in 1970. In 1975, after his administration been brought down by union militancy, he was replaced as leader by Margaret Thatcher, whom he regarded with an intense loathing that he never tried to conceal. (“When I look at him and he looks at me,” she once remarked, “it doesn’t feel like a man looking at a woman, more like a woman looking at another woman.”) Heath (like his hero, Churchill) was notoriously averse to women, and barely managed to be polite even to the wives of colleagues, but he does not seem to have been close to any men either, and was a self-absorbed, friendless figure.

Apart from Arthur Balfour, Conservative prime minister from 1902 to 1905 (who, though a narcissistic dandy, was in fact heterosexual and enjoyed sado-masochistic relationships with sophisticated women), Heath is modern Britain’s only bachelor premier, and his unmarried state gave rise to widespread rumour to the effect that he was actively gay – though no reliable evidence has emerged to suggest that he ever had a sexual or even a platonic relationship with anyone. Only in old age did he unbend to the extent of developing flirtatious friendships with some younger gay Tory MPs such as Alan Duncan and Matthew Parris, as well as with the gay couple who decorated his house in Salisbury. During his later years he also supported the lowering of the age of consent for homosexuality from 21 to 18 and then 16, whereas during his active political career he had studiously avoided showing interest in homosexual law reform.

Norman St John Stevas in 1950. Photograph: Personalities/AP / TopFoto

Clandestine homosexuality also flourished in the Labour party here two contradictory influences were at work. A strain in the party’s development (epitomised by the Fabian Society, and Edward Carpenter’s philosophy of “the dear love of comrades”) preached sexual toleration and the rejection of bourgeois morals but the party was also deeply rooted in the fierce evangelical Christianity that spearheaded the crackdown on homosexuality during the Victorian era. The Old Etonian Hugh Dalton, a leading figure in the Labour movement and a senior cabinet minister throughout the 1940s, was in love with Rupert Brooke as a Cambridge undergraduate, and later became intimate with several younger Labour politicians whose careers he helped, notably the bisexual Hugh Gaitskell and Tony Crosland. There were also some Labour-supporting peers who, while continuing to “live like lords”, shocked their families by flaunting both their socialism and their homosexuality, such as Oliver Baldwin, son of the Conservative statesman Stanley Baldwin and successor to his earldom, who, appointed a colonial governor by Attlee, barely concealed his “married” relationship with another man and Gavin Henderson, 2nd Baron Faringdon, who had a penchant for firemen, and turned Buscot, his country house in Oxfordshire, into a venue for party meetings. These men were relaxed about their sexuality but it was quite otherwise with a man of working-class origins such as the Welsh Labour politician George Thomas, speaker of the House of Commons from 1976 to 1983 (in which role he succeeded another “closet queen”, Selwyn Lloyd), who lived in terror of the exposure of his guilty secret. His homosexuality was revealed after his death by his friend and fellow MP Leo Abse, who had on several occasions helped extricate him from blackmail situations involving young men.

A t the end of the 20th century, two of the most colourful figures in British public life, whose ambiguous sexual natures had recently been made public, were the Conservative Michael Portillo and Labour’s Peter Mandelson (“Polly” and “Mandy”). Despite their political differences, there were some remarkable similarities in their backgrounds. Both were born in 1953, the youngest in families of boys both had strong-willed mothers, who had married husbands with foreign ancestries of whom their families disapproved. (Portillo’s mother, daughter of a Scottish linen tycoon, married an eminent Spanish refugee professor Mandelson’s mother, daughter of the Labour statesman Herbert Morrison, married the descendant of Russian revolutionaries who had sought sanctuary in Australia.) Both had suburban London upbringings, became prefects at their excellent local grammar schools, and took part in amateur theatricals. Portillo went to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he fell under the influence of the rightwing historian Maurice Cowling, while Mandelson went to St Catherine’s College, Oxford, becoming a protege of the leftwing historian Alan Bullock. Portillo, recommended by Cowling, began his career in the Conservative Research Department, while Mandelson, recommended by Bullock, started as a researcher at the TUC. Both subsequently had a spell working in television – in the early 1980s, Portillo was a researcher on Channel 4’s The Week in Politics, Mandelson a producer on LWT’s Weekend World.

Peter Mandelson announcing one of his resignations, in 2001. Photograph: David Sillitoe

Their careers then diverged in two respects. Portillo, whose party was in power throughout the years 1979-97, became a cabinet minister in his late 30s, just after Mandelson had entered parliament as a backbench MP. And whereas Portillo was famously the most swaggery politician of his generation (especially after John Major had appointed him defence secretary in 1995), Mandelson was the ultimate scheming “backroom boy”, whose achievement was to engineer Tony Blair’s succession as Labour leader and steer the “New Labour” brand to its great electoral triumph in 1997. (Mandelson worshipped Blair much as Portillo had worshipped Thatcher.) Both performed great services for their parties while becoming widely unpopular: Portillo’s loss of his supposedly safe London seat was the great shock of the 1997 election, while Mandelson, regarded by many as “a prince of darkness”, was twice made to resign from the cabinet during Blair’s first term of office owing to minor transgressions. Both made comebacks: Portillo (having experienced a Damascene conversion and become a “compassionate Conservative”) returned to parliament in 1999 and was appointed shadow chancellor by William Hague, whom he was widely expected to succeed as Conservative leader while Mandelson, having become an EU commissioner in 2004, was recalled to the cabinet with a peerage by Gordon Brown in 2008, showing brilliance as a strategist during Labour’s last two years of office. (Though effectively retired from frontline politics, both made their voices heard during and after the recent election campaign.)

Both Portillo and Mandelson enjoyed the company of women. In his late 20s, Portillo married the girlfriend of his teenage years, Carolyn Eadie Mandelson shared a flat with Neil Kinnock’s press secretary, Julie Hall. However, it was widely known that Portillo, though enjoying relationships with women, had homosexual interests, while Mandelson was frankly gay. Portillo was attached during his 20s to two institutions in which homosexuality flourished, Peterhouse and the Conservative Research Department, and he did not hold himself entirely aloof from the opportunities offered. Mandelson had two longstanding close relationships, first with a fellow researcher at the TUC, later with the Brazilian Reinaldo da Silva, who was some years younger than himself. Within the space of a year, both their private lives were made public in a spectacular fashion. In 1998, Mandelson, not yet in the cabinet but wielding great (and, in the view of some, sinister) influence behind the scenes as the eminence grise of the Blair government, was inadvertently “outed” on the BBC’s Newsnight by the journalist and former MP Matthew Parris. And in 1999, Portillo, about to stand for re-election to Parliament, admitted in an interview with the Times that he had had “some homosexual experiences as a young person” – whereupon a businessman named Nigel Hart declared in the Mail on Sunday that they had had an affair lasting eight years. Although these revelations do not seem to have harmed Portillo’s standing with the public, concern among fellow Conservative MPs about possible further embarrassing disclosures undoubtedly contributed to his narrow failure to win the party leadership when Hague stood down after the Tory defeat in the 2001 general election.

Michael Portillo listens to Stephen Twigg’s victory speech in Enfield Southgate in the 1997 general election. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

T he climate for gay politicians showed some dramatic swings during the last quarter of the 20th century. Despite her Methodist upbringing and strait-laced image, Margaret Thatcher, who became prime minister in 1979, was quite tolerant of homosexuality: she was one of the few Tories consistently to support Wolfenden, chose many gay men to serve her, and appointed the flamboyant Norman St John Stevas as one of her leading ministers (though she became irritatated by his love of gossip and sacked him after less than two years). However, the espousal of gay rights by some elements of the left, and the Aids epidemic, resulted in much public disquiet about homosexuality during the 1980s. In the Bermondsey byelection of 1983, the openly gay Peter Tatchell managed to lose the supposedly safe Labour seat to the Liberal Simon Hughes (who later admitted to having gay relationships). In this atmosphere, no MP felt able to “come out” – with the brave exception of Chris Smith, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury. In 1988, Section 28 of the Local Government Act provided that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality”. Though heterosexual, John Major, who succeeded Thatcher in 1990, was favourable to the cause of gay equality. He lifted the ban on homosexuals in “high security positions”, and in 1994 the age of consent was reduced from 21 to 18. However, the great terror for gay MPs in the 1990s was of being “outed” by the press, something which would scarcely have been imaginable in previous decades. The decision of the Murdoch press to launch a “morality crusade” against the Major administration led to the resignation of several gay Tory MPs from minor government positions, and reinforced the impression that the regime was mired in “sleaze”. Meanwhile the militant gay organisation Outrage! targeted MPs it believed to be gay who failed to support gay equality, one of whom, the Ulster Unionist Sir James Kilfedder, died of a heart attack after learning of his “outing”.

New Labour, elected in 1997, promised a new era of “diversity” and “inclusiveness”. Labour candidates who triumphed in former Tory strongholds included two openly gay men, Stephen Twigg in Enfield Southgate (where he unseated Michael Portillo) and Ben Bradshaw in Exeter (where he won a large majority in the face of a homophobic Conservative campaign). Chris Smith became culture secretary and the first openly gay cabinet minister, his male partner being included in such official occasions as Buckingham Palace garden parties. Great strides were made in reforming the law. The ban on homosexuals in the armed forces was lifted the age of consent was reduced to 16 Section 28 was repealed civil partnerships were introduced, giving gay couples the same legal privileges as married couples and a series of measures made it illegal to discriminate against people, or “incite hatred” against them, on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

Chris Smith at the Tate Modern in 2000. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

Yet in 1998 the Blair government witnessed one of the most bizarre gay scandals of the century, when Ron Davies, secretary of state for Wales, resigned after what he termed “a moment of madness” on Clapham Common, which had led to his being robbed at knifepoint and relieved of his wallet, phone, car and Commons pass. And the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition that took office in 2010, which was equally committed to the cause of gay equality and legislated for “gay marriage”, similarly suffered the loss of a cabinet minister when the Lib Dem David Laws resigned as chief secretary to the Treasury after the Daily Telegraph revealed that he had claimed parliamentary expenses for London accommodation belonging to his “long-term partner and secret lover”, a situation disallowed by the expenses rules he explained that he had wished to keep his sexuality secret out of respect for the feelings of his mother. It seems the age of the political closet queen may not be quite dead yet.

I s a study of this subject historically or politically relevant? I believe it is, because until recently many politicians (possibly more than one might imagine, for the men in question usually did their utmost to ensure that no details of this aspect of their lives emerged) were obliged to keep secret something important about themselves. And this inevitably affected the way they operated as politicians: apart from inculcating quick wits and sharp antennae, it tended to foster skills in several areas – tact and discretion acting and showmanship the “dark arts” of presentation and manipulation awareness and management of risk. Following the election, Westminster now boasts 32 openly gay MPs and while one must be thankful that, in Britain, official homophobia is a thing of the past, and that gay men and women, in politics as elsewhere, can now be honest about their sexuality, the necessity for homosexuals in public life to hide their nature, though in itself deplorable, did not, perhaps, exercise an entirely negative influence on the 20th-century political scene.

Michael Bloch’s Closet Queens is published by Little, Brown this month.


Critical Thinkers: The Ties That Bind Orwell and Churchill

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CHURCHILL AND ORWELL
The Fight for Freedom
By Thomas E. Ricks
Illustrated. 339 pp. Penguin Press. $28.

Among the many stories about Winston Churchill that may or not be true is the one of him barking grumpily at a waiter, “Take this pudding away it has no theme!” In “Churchill and Orwell,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Thomas Ricks (who is now the Book Review’s military history columnist) clearly has a theme. Both subjects, he tells us in this page turner written with great brio, are “people we still think about, people who are important not just to understanding their times but also to understanding our own.” Nonetheless, given that Churchill and Orwell seem never to have met, the question is not so much if this dual biography has a theme but more whether there is actually a pudding in the first place.

It hardly needs to be said that Ricks has chosen two historical figures who are still in the news. Orwell’s most famous novel, “1984,” enjoyed a renewed wave of attention in the days after the inauguration of Donald Trump. And as the new president moved into the White House, among his first gestures was to restore the famous Jacob Epstein bust of Churchill to the Oval Office. He is even said to model a scowl on that of Britain’s wartime leader.

Given their pervasive influence today, it is worth remembering that in the 1930s, before either reached the heights of reputation, both men were in disgrace. Churchill was a political pariah, alienated from his own Conservative Party by his opposition to the appeasement of Hitler. Frederic Maugham, Lord Chancellor in the national government, suggested that Churchill should be “shot or hanged.” Similarly, when the socialist Orwell wrote “Homage to Catalonia” (1938), a coruscating indictment of both left and right during the Spanish Civil War, he was denounced by many on the British left. His usual publisher, the Communist fellow-traveler Victor Gollancz, refused even to put out the book.

The “lower-upper-middle-class” Orwell and the aristocratic Churchill were both children of the Empire, yet they shared a certain contempt for the snobbery of British society. “For a popular leader in England it is a serious disability to be a gentleman,” Orwell wrote in 1943, adding admiringly, “which Churchill … is not.”

Only after war broke out in 1939 did Churchill and Orwell find common cause, seeing the conflict in similar terms even if they did not work together. For Churchill, this was a war “to establish, on impregnable rocks, the rights of the individual, and it is a war to establish and revive the stature of man.” For Orwell, “If this war is about anything at all, it is a war in favor of freedom of thought.” In that struggle, centered as much on individual freedom as national survival, Ricks finds the ingredients for the “pudding” that gives substance to his theme.

It is no coincidence that in 1940 Orwell welcomed Churchill’s premiership as much-needed “government with imagination.” He recognized it in the series of speeches Churchill made that summer urging the British people toward “their finest hour.” “Who would have believed seven years ago that Winston Churchill had any kind of political future before him?,” Orwell marveled, as he watched the transformation from has-been to savior of the nation.

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Rejected by the army “because of my lungs,” Orwell ended up at the BBC during the war, where he raged against the “continuous dithering” and “the impossibility of getting anything done.” A conference room at the BBC offices where Orwell endured endless dreary meetings, would subsequently reappear as Room 101, the torture chamber in “1984.” Yet Orwell, Ricks points out, “like Churchill, was energized by the war.” In 1940 alone he produced more than 100 pieces of journalism.

For both Churchill and Orwell, language mattered at every level. “Even while overseeing a sprawling war of survival,” Ricks notes, “Churchill paused to coach subordinates on writing.” During the Battle of Britain he issued a directive on brevity, ordering his staff to write in “short, crisp” paragraphs and to avoid meaningless phrases. “Most of these woolly phrases are mere padding,” the prime minister complained, “which can be left out altogether, or replaced by a single word.” Anyone who has read Orwell’s famous six “elementary” rules on writing, including “ Never use a long word where a short one will do,” knows that on this matter the two men were of one mind.

Orwell’s admiration of Churchill, while not uncritical, is clear enough. Not only does Winston Smith, the protagonist of “1984,” share a name with Churchill, but in the last piece published before his death in January 1950 (his review of a volume of Churchill’s war memoir, “Their Finest Hour”) Orwell praised the former prime minister not just for his “courage but also a certain largeness and geniality,” and also for his writings, which were “more like those of a human being than of a public figure.”

What Churchill thought of Orwell is less clear. In truth, he probably did not think about him much at all while the younger man was alive. He read “1984” more than once and thought it “remarkable.” But it had only been with that novel, published in 1949, and its predecessor “Animal Farm,” published in 1945, that Orwell had become a household name. As the British-American writer Logan Pearsall Smith teased his old friend Cyril Connolly after reading “Animal Farm,” Orwell had come from nowhere “to beat the lot of you.” By the time he did, the war was won and Churchill was out of office. When Churchill returned to 10 Downing Street in 1951, Orwell was dead.

Much of the connection then between Churchill and Orwell is suggestive rather than explicit. In 2002, Simon Schama artfully used the two as a framing device for the final episode of his landmark television series, “A History of Britain,” employing them to make a powerful statement about the relationship between tradition and radicalism through the ages. For Ricks, the relationship is essentially about freethinking. He doesn’t always force connections or contradictions for readers for example, the link between Winston Smith’s job rewriting history, much as the former prime minister was doing in his own memoirs, goes undeveloped. (“History will be kind to me,” Churchill once said, “for I intend to write it.”)

But what comes across strongly in this highly enjoyable book is the fierce commitment of both Orwell and Churchill to critical thought. Neither followed the crowd. Each treated popularity and rejection with equal skepticism. Their unwavering independence, Ricks concludes, put them in “a long but direct line from Aristotle and Archimedes to Locke, Hume, Mill and Darwin, and from there through Orwell and Churchill to the ‘Letter from Birmingham City Jail.’ It is the agreement that objective reality exists, that people of good will can perceive it and that other people will change their views when presented with the facts of the matter.”


BOOKS ON AND BY WINSTON CHURCHILL - History

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Book Description

The most complete portrait ever drawn of the complex emotional connection between two of history’s towering leaders

Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were the greatest leaders of “the Greatest Generation.” In Franklin and Winston, Jon Meacham explores the fascinating relationship between the two men who piloted the free world to victory in World War II. It was a crucial friendship, and a unique one—a president and a prime minister spending enormous amounts of time together (113 days during the war) and exchanging nearly two thousand messages. Amid cocktails, cigarettes, and cigars, they met, often secretly, in places as far-flung as Washington, Hyde Park, Casablanca, and Teheran, talking to each other of war, politics, the burden of command, their health, their wives, and their children.

Born in the nineteenth century and molders of the twentieth and twenty-first, Roosevelt and Churchill had much in common. Sons of the elite, students of history, politicians of the first rank, they savored power. In their own time both men were underestimated, dismissed as arrogant, and faced skeptics and haters in their own nations—yet both magnificently rose to the central challenges of the twentieth century. Theirs was a kind of love story, with an emotional Churchill courting an elusive Roosevelt. The British prime minister, who rallied his nation in its darkest hour, standing alone against Adolf Hitler, was always somewhat insecure about his place in FDR’s affections—which was the way Roosevelt wanted it. A man of secrets, FDR liked to keep people off balance, including his wife, Eleanor, his White House aides—and Winston Churchill.

Confronting tyranny and terror, Roosevelt and Churchill built a victorious alliance amid cataclysmic events and occasionally conflicting interests. Franklin and Winston is also the story of their marriages and their families, two clans caught up in the most sweeping global conflict in history.

Meacham’s new sources—including unpublished letters of FDR’s great secret love, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, the papers of Pamela Churchill Harriman, and interviews with the few surviving people who were in FDR and Churchill’s joint company—shed fresh light on the characters of both men as he engagingly chronicles the hours in which they decided the course of the struggle.

Hitler brought them together later in the war, they drifted apart, but even in the autumn of their alliance, the pull of affection was always there. Charting the personal drama behind the discussions of strategy and statecraft, Meacham has written the definitive account of the most remarkable friendship of the modern age.

Sobre el Autor

Jon Meacham is the managing editor of Newsweek. Born in Chattanooga in 1969, he is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. The editor of Voices in Our Blood : America's Best on the Civil Rights Movement, Meacham lives in New York City with his wife and son.

From Publishers Weekly
Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek (editor, Voices in Our Blood : America's Best on the Civil Rights Movement), delivers an eloquent, well-researched account of one of the 20th century's most vital friendships: that between FDR and Winston Churchill. Both men were privileged sons of wealth, and both had forebears (in Churchill's case, Leonard Jerome) prominent in New York society during the 19th century. Both enjoyed cocktails and a smoke. And both were committed to the Anglo-American alliance. Indeed, Roosevelt and Churchill each believed firmly that the "English-speaking peoples" represented the civilized world's first, best hope to counter and conquer the barbarism of the Axis. Meacham uses previously untapped archives and has interviewed surviving Roosevelt and Churchill staffers present at the great men's meetings in Washington, Hyde Park, Casablanca and Tehran. Thus he has considerable new ground to break, new anecdotes to offer and prescient observations to make. Throughout, Meacham highlights Roosevelt's and Churchill's shared backgrounds as sons of the ruling elite, their genuine, gregarious friendship, and their common worldview during staggeringly troubled times. To meet with Roosevelt, Churchill recalled years later, "with all his buoyant sparkle, his iridescence," was like "opening a bottle of champagne"-a bottle from which the tippling Churchill desperately needed a good long pull through 1940 and '41, as the Nazis savaged Europe and tortured British civilians with air attacks. One comes away from this account convinced of the "Great Personality" theory of history and gratified that Roosevelt and Churchill possessed the character that they did and came to power at a time when no other partnership would do.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
If the personal element in the Roosevelt-Churchill relationship influenced the course of World War II, this author demurs from saying so. The war in Meacham's hands is scaffolding for an edifice of detail about the two leaders' meetings. So Meacham coaxes gossip and trivia from the source material meticulously recorded by each man's voluble and history-conscious entourages. While the way Churchill would barge into Roosevelt's bedroom, or Roosevelt would mix drinks for Churchill, may not seem significant today, to immediate observers this social badinage marked the trajectory of their chiefs' dealings. Churchill was usually transparent, and FDR indirect, traits of the men's leadership that provide coherence to Meacham's immense indulgence in the physical accommodations, the gustatory spreads, and the verbal give-and-take of their friendship. WWII as experienced in personal relationships was the point of Doris Kearns Goodwin's No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (1994) Meacham's work is cut from the same cloth. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. Reservados todos los derechos

The Washington Post Book World, 10/26/03
"With its keen, nuanced analysis and sympathetic insight, Meacham's book makes for intense and compelling reading. His achievement is memorable"

“This is at once an important, insightful, and highly entertaining portrait of two men at the peak of their powers who, through their genius, common will, and uncommon friendship, saved the world. Jon Meacham’s Franklin and Winston takes its place in the front ranks of all that has been written about these two great men.“
—Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation

“Franklin and Winston is a sensitive, perceptive, and absorbing portrait of the friendship that saved the democratic world in the greatest war in history.”
—Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., author of The Age of Roosevelt

“Jon Meacham has done groundbreaking work by focusing on the World War II alliance between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill as a friendship. Using important new sources, he has brought us a shrewd, original, sensitive, and fascinating look at the many-layered relationship between these two towering human beings, as well as their friends, families, aides, and allies. The book reveals the emotional undercurrents that linked FDR and Churchill—and sometimes estranged them—and teases out which of the ties between them were heartfelt and which were based on raw mutual political need. Meacham triumphantly shows how lucky we are that Roosevelt and Churchill were in power together during some of the most threatening moments of the twentieth century.”
—Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1941�

“The relationship between FDR and Churchill was the most important political friendship of the twentieth century, not only determining the outcome of World War II but also setting a pattern that has endured ever since. Jon Meacham brings it to vivid life, shedding new insights into its strange and poignant complexity, and why its legacy has helped shape the modern world.”
—Richard Holbrooke, author of To End a War

“Jon Meacham enlivens the two men, their families, and their personal relations and relationships, providing a human context for the world-shaping leaders of the Anglo-American alliance during the Second World War.”
—Warren F. Kimball, author of Forged in War: Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Second World War


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