Paul Bew has achieved the near impossible: he has somehow written a book on an important aspect of Winston Churchill’s statecraft that is totally comprehensive, genuinely ground-breaking and yet capable of being read in an afternoon. In a life that has been trawled over literally thousands of times by historians, Churchill’s relations with Ireland have not received anything like the attention they deserve, despite the significant role he played in Irish history and Ireland’s equally significant role in his own career. That historiographical gap has now been definitively filled by Bew’s scholarly, highly readable and fascinating book.
Churchill’s relationship with Ireland started while he was an infant, when his father, the Tory politician Lord Randolph Churchill, acted as unofficial private secretary for his own father, the Duke of Marlborough, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. On one occasion when he was about six, out riding his donkey