The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940 (published in 1988) was William Manchester’s sequel to The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 (published in 1983). Alone picks up the story with Churchill cast into the political wilderness and entering what the author believed was the most crucial period of the politician’s extraordinary life — his “finest hour,” if you will — which culminated in his becoming Prime Minister of Britain in 1940, his country once again at war with Germany. Churchill, as Manchester poignantly puts it, “resolved to lead Britain and her fading empire in one last great struggle worthy of all they had been.”
Manchester’s acumen is to deftly juxtapose the political analysis with highly readable prose, neglecting neither the events nor the reader. But skilled a wordsmith as Manchester was, not even he could cheat death, and so the proposed third volume — tentatively titled The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 and scheduled for publication in 2011 — will be finished by his close friend Paul Reid. Manchester and Reid shared a love of the Boston Red Sox, and Reid likened the task of finishing Manchester’s trilogy to being called to end a game for Red Sox legend Ted Williams.
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