“If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or, as it were, fondle them — peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on their shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you will at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances.” — Winston Churchill
Should you be looking for the right Christmas gift for a book-lover or history buff, I recommend that you look no further than this beautiful boxed set of William Manchester’s three-volume biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, 1874-1965.
Like the multi-volume biographies of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris and Lyndon B. Johnson by Robert Caro, The Last Lion is a monumental work that took decades to complete. The first volume, Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 was originally published in 1983. The second volume, Alone, 1932-1940 was published in 1988. And the third volume, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 was just released this month. The first two volumes are pure Manchester, and we’re fortunate that the legendary historian turned to Paul Reid shortly before Manchester’s death in 2004 and requested that Reid complete the third volume. On their own, each of the books are epic; collectively, they are a masterpiece.
You can get the books individually, of course, and even download the trilogy for your Kindle, but this work is the type of treasure that deserves a spot on your shelves and the boxed set is gorgeous. I just received my copy today and I’m handling them much in the same way that Churchill described in the quote above. Anyone who loves to read history needs The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, 1874-1965 (Oh, and Amazon has it for sale at nearly 50% off the retail price right now!)