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Book cover of Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat: The Dire Warning: Churchill's First Speech as Prime Minister

Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat: The Dire Warning: Churchill's First Speech as Prime Minister

by John R. Lukacs

Publisher: Basic Books
Pages: 240
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780465002870






Available to Buy

Overview of Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat: The Dire Warning: Churchill's First Speech as Prime Minister

On May 13, 1940, Winston Churchill stood before the House of Commons to deliver his first speech as Prime Minister. Europe was in crisis: Three days earlier, Germany had invaded France and the Low Countries. Facing only feeble resistance, Hitler’s armies were rapidly sweeping westward. Accused of mishandling the war, Neville Chamberlain’s government collapsed, and Churchill was chosen to succeed him. Churchill had little support within the new government when he rose to address it on May 13. “I have never believed in him,” wrote one MP. Another described Churchill as a “disaster.” In fact, Churchill lacked confidence, both in himself and in his ability to lead his nation to victory, for he recognized far earlier than most the military genius of Adolph Hitler, and the potency of the German military. “I hope it is not too late,” Churchill had confided to his bodyguard on May 10. “I am very much afraid that it is.” In Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat, the eminent historian and master storyteller John Lukacs recreates this pivotal moment in world history, and reveals Churchill as he has rarely been seen before: as a man both unsure of himself and deeply fearful of his nation’s defeat. Churchill made no promises to his country in his speech, because he knew he had none to make. And yet he rallied England onward in the face of a vicious enemy. For Churchill-and Churchill alone-understood what was at stake: the fate not only of nations, but of civilization itself.

Synopsis of Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat: The Dire Warning: Churchill's First Speech as Prime Minister

A best-selling historian considers Churchill’s first speech before Parliament-a speech that transformed both Churchill and the nation he had come to lead

Jim Doyle - Library Journal

In this brief essay, historian Lukacs (Winston Churchill) examines a single sentence from one of Winston Churchill's most memorable speeches and his first as prime minister during World War II. In the process, Lukacs evokes the temper of a time when the fate of humankind hung in the balance. Churchill made this moving speech on May 13, 1940. The German mechanized legions were pushing through France, and England's "Darkest Hour" was beginning. Lukacs stresses that this speech, with its famous words, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat," was given to the assembled Parliament and heard only by Churchill's colleagues there. Yet it captured the grim resolve that resonated throughout Great Britain, and when Churchill's words were reported, the British knew they were in a fight to the death-and that Churchill was the man to lead them. Lukacs is an unabashed Churchill admirer, but he is also a highly regarded historian whose work on the early phases of World War II is prolific and influential. This work may be a paean to Churchill, but it is also a perceptive analysis of a seminal moment in world history. Although there are many books on Churchill's speeches, e.g., Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: Winston Churchill's Famous Speeches, edited by David Cannadine, this concise essay should be in every Churchill collection.

About the Author, John R. Lukacs

John Lukacs is the author of over twenty books on topics in European history, including Five Days in London: May 1940, The Hitler of History, and The Last European War. Currently Professor of History Emeritus at Chestnut Hill College, he has also taught at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and the University of Budapest. He lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

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Editorials

Library Journal

In this brief essay, historian Lukacs (Winston Churchill) examines a single sentence from one of Winston Churchill's most memorable speeches and his first as prime minister during World War II. In the process, Lukacs evokes the temper of a time when the fate of humankind hung in the balance. Churchill made this moving speech on May 13, 1940. The German mechanized legions were pushing through France, and England's "Darkest Hour" was beginning. Lukacs stresses that this speech, with its famous words, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat," was given to the assembled Parliament and heard only by Churchill's colleagues there. Yet it captured the grim resolve that resonated throughout Great Britain, and when Churchill's words were reported, the British knew they were in a fight to the death-and that Churchill was the man to lead them. Lukacs is an unabashed Churchill admirer, but he is also a highly regarded historian whose work on the early phases of World War II is prolific and influential. This work may be a paean to Churchill, but it is also a perceptive analysis of a seminal moment in world history. Although there are many books on Churchill's speeches, e.g., Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: Winston Churchill's Famous Speeches, edited by David Cannadine, this concise essay should be in every Churchill collection.
—Jim Doyle

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