Friday, August 28, 2009

...read Churchill, learn, and be of good courage!

I visited Yalta's Livadia Palace with Megan and Anna and a group of US College Students in July 2000. But it wasn't until this summer that I read the war speeches of Winston Churchill. Until reading Graham Stewart's collection of Churchill speeches in His Finest Hours, my first-hand knowledge of Churchill's words was mostly of popular quotes like this one:

Nancy Astor: “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.”
Churchill: “If I were your husband I would take it.”

In His Finest Hours we read a much more serious Churchill. Stewart provides a survey of Churchill's words over the years as he spoke to Parliament, the British public, The US Congress, and even the commencement address to Westminster College in mid-Missouri (the famous 'Iron Curtain' speech). Don't worry, fair reader, Steward does not give us full manuscripts of each speech. And his wise selections create a 200-page easy read. Even better, the historical summaries before each speech entry help dudes like me whose knowledge of World War II is sketchy.

Here are a few of my favorite Churchill quotes from the book:

"Death and ruin have become small things compared with the shame of defeat or failure of duty."

"I always hate to compare Napoleon with Hitler, as it seems an insult to the great emperor and warrior to connect him in any way with a squalid caucus boss and butcher."

"If we are together, nothing is impossible. If we are divided, all will fail."

"...we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..."

"We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job."

"When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their prime minister and his divided Cabinet, 'In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.' Some chicken. Some neck."

What are your favorite Churchill quotes?

1 comment:

Binden said...

I caught your blog through Google alerts.

There is never a bad time to listen to Churchill's speeches, I have a CD with a selection.

I am really impressed that you have been to Yalta, I would like to go their myself one day.

To really get to know Churchill you need to read his WW2 memoirs. I came across them by accident a few years ago and was so inspired by them that I recently published a book called Churchill's Secret Skills. It takes his wartime talents and applies them to modern business