THE LAUREATE: Don’t play that game with me. Yes, it’s THAT Winston Churchill. Yes he won the Nobel Prize, No, it wasn’t the Peace Prize. He won it for his speeches, and the Nobel committee waited until they could be sure that no one would think he was winning for political reasons.
WHAT I’M READING: Some of his more important speeches from a Penguin collection.
REVIEW: Winston Churchill was a very flawed orator. Don’t get me wrong, his speeches themselves were beautifully written and constructed with great skill. It’s just that he often let his oratory run away from him. He also kind of called Gandhi a presumptuous middle temple lawyer, and was generally completely opposed to giving India independence. He let the needs of a good speech dictate how he spoke about complex issues. He also could not improvise if his life depended on it, and he gave a number of awful speeches because of it. However, his style of bombastic, apocalyptic declamation was perfectly suited to his leadership during World War 2, and the speeches from that period are incredible. His style is more florid than we would consider tasteful today, but no student of rhetoric can afford to ignore him.
WHAT’S NEXT: Half a Life by V. S. Naipaul