David Reynolds admires how Churchill sent the English language into battleWinston Churchill’s wartime speeches are woven into national legend. “Their finest hour”, “we shall fight on the beaches”, “never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”: such phrases have become immortal. Churchill’s oratory has even been credited with helping win the war. To quote Edward R Murrow, the great American wartime reporter, he “mobilized the English language and sent it into battle”.Surprisingly, Winston’s words have not been subjected to close scrutiny – an omission rectified by Richard Toye in this thoroughly researched, readable and fascinating book. He uses the drafts in the Churchill archives to show how the speeches were composed, while Home Intelligence Reports and the Mass Observation archive throw light on how they were received.In early life, Winston – in speechmaking as in so many ways – tried to emulate his father, Lord Randolph, preparing a text and then learning it by heart. But after one mortifying occasion when he went blank in the Commons, he adopted the practice of speaking from a detailed set of notes based on a full text that he had dictated to secretaries and …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books