At first glance they may seem like an odd couple, but their influence on the seminal events and the thinking of the 20th century is equally profound. Winston Churchill defined and led the resistance against the tyranny of Adolf Hitler, George Orwell understood and explained the nature of totalitarian regimes. They were both men who were prepared to change themselves in order to change the world.
Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas E. Ricks has written an insightful account of these two men whose paths never crossed and came from opposite ends of society and ideology. The book focuses on their life and deeds from the late thirties until after the Second World War. Ricks does not eulogise either man, he recognises their flaws and earlier failures, yet puts them both in the historic perspective that they deserve.
Where Orwell helps us understand the threats to freedom, Churchill embodies true leadership; In the dark days of spring in 1940 he rallied a nation by telling people the truth, not what they wanted to hear. Today’s leaders have much to learn from both men.
“Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom” is a terrific read. It is well structured and flows easily without boring parts, it doesn’t dwell on the melodrama as some of the current films about Churchill do, but focuses on how these two flawed individuals helped shape our world.