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Book Review: Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table – Cita Stelzer

Donna Brown299 views
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About Dinner with Churchill (2011)
Dinner with Churchill - Cita StelzerA friend once said of Churchill He is a man of simple tastes; he is quite easily satisfied with the best of everything.

But dinners for Churchill were about more than good food, excellent champagnes and Havana cigars. Everything included the opportunity to use the dinner table both as a stage on which to display his brilliant conversational talents, and an intimate setting in which to glean gossip and diplomatic insights, and to argue for the many policies he espoused over a long life.

In this riveting, informative and entertaining book, Stelzer draws on previously untapped material, diaries of guests, and a wide variety of other sources to tell of some of the key dinners at which Churchill presided before, during and after World War II including the important conferences at which he used his considerable skills to attempt to persuade his allies, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, to fight the war according to his strategic vision. 

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Review: Dinner with Churchill

Dinner with Churchill was a pretty delightful look at Churchill’s idiosyncrasies, love of food, mannerisms and foibles. I’d read certain accounts of the meetings and conferences of the allies but this was a new experience. Instead of Churchill the leader, the politician, we see Churchill in a light he certainly seemed to thrive under: Churchill the schmoozer, the socialiser, the conversationalist.

Ranging from recounted stories to notes made on menus or housekeeper’s instructions, the captured moments in Dinner with Churchill show that even in wartime, Churchill could make a dinner party lively and full of debate. More seriously, however, Churchill was able to use this dinner party negotiation to arrange concessions or persuade Roosevelt and Stalin to agree to his ideas with a confidence the boardroom didn’t allow.

Churchill’s confidence has always astounded me. Knowing his fight with depression, his ‘Black dog’, it is quite astounding that he achieved so much. To know that he could also play the entertainer, to charm and convince people, and to see this glimpse of the more private Churchill, at the dinner table rather than the parliamentary benches, was a quite fascinating – albeit at times slightly dry – experience.

A great read if you have any interest in Churchill and/or this period of 20th century history.

Verdict: 4/5

(Book Source: Netgalley)

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Donna Brown

Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.

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