You may have noted that the 24th January marked the 50th anniversary of the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. As this Radio 4 programme by Sir David Cannadine and this BBC news magazine article reflect, Churchill was a complex and often controversial man.
I first came across such issues in Martin Gilbert’s 1980 biography of the great man – Churchill. It is a work of great intellectual strength which in many respects belonged to a different age. As Larry P. Arnn comments, “Gilbert utterly rebelled against the view that the facts of history change with time. In this way he agreed with the classics. He wrote the biography faithfully, from primary-source materials and with the greatest care to tell the story as it happened.” It certainly taught me the importance of attention to detail in effective history. As such, Martin Gilbert was in many respects the historian’s historian, and in a strange synchronicity he died this week. You can read Arnn’s obituary in the Wall Street Journal here.