The Churchill Myths

ISBN : 9780198851967

Steven Fielding; Bill Schwarz; Richard Toye
256 Pages
138 x 216 mm
Pub date
Aug 2020
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  • Addresses Winston Churchill's legacy, and the mythologies which have built up around him
  • Using the figure of Churchill as a prism, the authors reconstruct a map of the major ideological shifts in post-war British politics
  • Brings together three stands of historical study from prominent historians in their respective fields to paint a full picture of Churchill's legacy
  • Draws not only on conventional historiography, but also assesses the Churchill phenomenon in popular media and culture

This is not a book about Winston Churchill. It is not principally about his politics, nor his rhetorical imagination, nor even about the man himself. Instead, it addresses the varied afterlives of the man and the persistent, deeply located compulsion to bring him back from the dead, capturing and explaining the significance of the various Churchill myths to Britain's history and current politics.
The authors look at Churchill's portrayal in social memory. They demonstrate the ways in which politicians have often used the idea of Churchill as a means of self-validation - using him to show themselves as tough and honest players. They show the man dramatized in film and television - an onscreen persona that is often the product of a gratuitous mixing of fact and fantasy, one deliberately shaped to meet the preferences of the presumed audience. They discuss his legacy in light of the Brexit debate - showing how public figures on both sides of the Leave/Remain debate were able to use elements of Churchill's words and character to argue for their own point-of-view.


1:Brexit May 1940
2:The Churchill Syndrome
3:Persistence and Change in Churchill's Mythic Memory

About the author: 

Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History, University of Nottingham, Bill Schwarz, Professor of Modern Literature and History, Queen Mary University of London, and Richard Toye, Professor of Modern British History, University of Exeter
Steven Fielding is Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham. He is the author of a number of books, including A State of Play: British Politics on Screen, Stage and Page, from Anthony Trollope to The Thick of It (2014), and is currently writing The Labour Party: from Callaghan to Corbyn.
Bill Schwarz is Professor of Modern Literature and History at Queen Mary University of London. He is completing a three-volume study for OUP, Memories of Empire, the first volume of which received the Longman/History Today prize in 2013, and has been an editor of History Workshop Journal since 1989.
Richard Toye is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Exeter. His books include Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness (2007), Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made (2010), and The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill's World War II (2013). Winston Churchill: A Life in the News is forthcoming from OUP in 2020.

"The Churchill Myths is a brilliantly provocative take-down of the Churchill industry. Fielding, Schwarz, and Toye show how and why British history has so often been crystalized into the story of one man. By taking a hammer to the legend, not Britain's wartime prime minister himself, they allow us to do the near impossible and see Churchill afresh." - Richard Aldous, Bard College, Author of Reagan and Thatcher: The Difficult Relationship

"Churchill remains a complex and fascinating figure. This fresh study of Churchill's position in political and popular culture since 1940 provides a substantial reassessment of Churchill and his legend. Written by major historians it is both scholarly and accessible to a wide readership." - Chris Wrigley, emeritus professor, University of Nottingham

"A good and impressive book ... Its attempt at de-mythologizing [Churchill] allows us to raise new questions." - Christian Egander Skov, Altinget

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