Churchill’s legacy: two speeches to save the world by Alan Watson – Book Review

Churchill’s Legacy describes how Winston Churchill wielded his influence in post-war politics to enable the restoration and defence of Europe through two key speeches in 1946. Having first helped bring victory to the Allies in 1945, Churchill went on to preserve the freedom of the world by gaining the trust and support of the United States.
In Fulton, Missouri, Churchill apprised America to the reality of ‘Uncle Joe’ Stalin – a tyrant determined to dominate Europe at any cost. Churchill called for an Anglo-American alliance based on their shared values and the deterrent of America’s possession of the atomic bomb. Churchill also urged the Americans to recognise the debt they owed Britain for opposing Hitler in 1940. In doing so, he reinforced the special relationship that had developed during the war, contributed to United States thinking behind the need for the Marshall Plan, and ultimately laid the ground for the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
In Zurich, Churchill boldly proposed a partnership between France and Germany: a United States of Europe. The hatred stirred up by the war had to be replaced by partnership for Europe to recover its economic vitality and regain its moral stature. Together, the Anglo-American Alliance and a United States of Europe led by France and Germany would have the power to ‘smite the crocodile’ of Soviet ambition. In doing so, he sowed the seeds for the European Community and European Union.
Although the speeches were attacked and denounced at the time, they created the political architecture for the post-war period. To a very great degree, the geostrategic world we inhabit today sprung from the words Churchill spoke at Fulton, Missouri and Zurich, Switzerland.
To understand what Churchill intended with these two speeches requires perspective. The daring of his imagination and the scale of his architecture for a new Western Alliance was extraordinary. At the time, not many recognized the vision and symmetry of what was proposed. Alan Watson’s well-researched, penetrating and well-written analysis tells the story of how that came about.
U.S. General George S. Patton was also a high profile and vocal critic of the ‘Bolsheviks’ – albeit less eloquently than Churchill. Patton once remarked: “I have no particular desire to understand them except to ascertain how much lead or iron it takes to kill them … the Russian has no regard for human life and they are all out sons-of-bitches, barbarians, and chronic drunks.” After the meeting of the ‘Big Three’ at Yalta, Patton observed: “We promised the Europeans freedom. It would be worse than dishonourable not to see that they have it. This might mean war with the Russians, but what of it?” If it was not for Patton’s car accident and subsequent death in January 1946, Churchill might have had a useful American ally.
Alan Watson is a broadcaster, author, High Steward of Cambridge University, former President of the Liberal Party, public relations consultant and Peer. An accomplished public speaker, presenter, campaigner and consultant, his fascination with Churchill has been lifelong. His enthusiasm for Britain at the interface of Churchill’s three circles – Europe, America, and the English-speaking world – remains unmatched.
Churchill’s Legacy includes and introduction by Randolph Churchill, Winston’s great-grandson, 16 pages of images, notes, bibliography and index. At Churchill’s funeral in 1965, commentators bemoaned the end of an era. In truth, Churchill was the catalyst of a new era – one built upon effective defence, economic revival, and European unity. His legacy, indeed, was long and significant. Churchill’s Legacy is recommended to students of history and politics.

Bloomsbury; 2016; 224 pp.; ISBN 9781408880210 (hardcover); RRP $30.99
Bloomsbury; 2016; 224 pp.; ISBN 9781408880210 (hardcover); RRP $30.99

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