Sunday, February 05, 2006
Book Review: Churchill's Triumph by Michael Dobbs
Churchill's Triumph is the last in the quadrology (if that is a word!) of Churchill based novels which Michael Dobbs has written over the past few years. The other three, Winston's War, Never Surrender and Churchill's Hour have been bestsellers and no doubt this one will be too. All four novels centre around Winston Churchill as the main character and descrobe a key event in the Second World War. Churchill's Triumph is the story of the meeting at Yalta between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. Yalta was, in fact, anything but a triumph for Churchill and marked the first recognition that Britain had lost its status as a superpower. Stalin ran roughshod over a weak and dying Roosevelt and Churchill was realistic enough to realise that on his own he could do nothing about it. Having entered the Second World War to defend Poland's independence, Britain effectively surrendered its freedom to the Soviets, despite the Yalta agreement saying exactly the opposite. Not knowing much about what exactly happened at Yalta this book has now encouraged me to find out. Throughout all four of Dobb's 'faction' based novels the reader is constantly unsure about the accuracy of the events portrayed. And that is the beauty of the books. They invite the reader to delve deeper. Churchill's Hour, although primarily describing what happened at Yalta has a clever side plot centering around events in the fictional Polish village of Piorun. Dobbs describes the cruelty of German rule and the gradual erosion of their power as they prepared to fell back to the Fatherland and then we find out exactly what happened when the Russians turned up. Not a pretty picture, but from what one knows, fairly accurate. The beauty of the dialogue in the book is that you can imagine Churchill saying the words. Quite why no TV company has bought the TV rights to these four books I cannot imagine. Well, in the case of Churchill's Triumph, I can imagine that US TV companies will be put off by the dire picture Dobbs paints of Roosevelt and the fact that he constantly gives way to Stalin and always wants to think the best of him. This is in contrast to Churchill who doesn't trust the Russian dictator one inch. The star of the second two books is Churchill's valet Mr Sawyers. The interplay between the two is superb. I thoroughly enjoyed all four books and await Michael Dobbs' next venture. Margaret Thatcher during the Falklands War perhaps?