David Cesarani

The Romance of Israel

Churchill and the Jews


Simon & Schuster 309pp £20 order from our bookshop

Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft


Yale University Press 321pp £25 order from our bookshop

Now that Churchill is by consensus the Greatest Briton it is hard to grasp that during his lifetime, and for long after, he was a divisive figure. To many Jews he was a hero who defended their community in Britain, championed Zionism, forewarned against the Nazi horrors, and single-handedly prevented British capitulation in the summer of 1940. However, there were always critical voices. In 1985 Michael J Cohen published Churchill and the Jews, which launched a devastating attack on the hagiographic version.

Despite sharing the same title, Sir Martin Gilbert’s book could not be more different. It is firmly in the hagiographic mode, as uncritical as it is unquestioning. More worryingly, given that the author is the world’s expert on Churchill and no slouch when it comes to the history of Zionism, it is marred by inaccuracies and sloppy mistakes that suggest a book written in haste and carelessly edited. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,
    • ‘Look,’ says Trump. ‘The fact is I’m only human.’ On the evidence of this book that point is debatable. From the A… ,
    • From our December/January issue - here's John Banville's review of Colm Tóibín on the fathers of Wilde, Yeats and J… ,
    • Hi , we would love to review 'Death of the Vazir-Mukhtar' in our next issue! Please could you get in… ,