Churchill’s Empire: The World that Made Him and the World He Made by Richard Toye - review by Piers Brendon

Piers Brendon

What Winston Really Wanted

Churchill’s Empire: The World that Made Him and the World He Made


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In 1957 Sir Winston Churchill, who had visited east Africa fifty years earlier as a junior minister in the Colonial Office, provided a short prologue to a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film about the Mau Mau revolt entitled Something of Value, starring Rock Hudson and Sidney Poitier. Churchill’s message, that Kenya’s current problems were the problems of the world, was innocuous. But he himself did not go down well at MGM, where a studio executive said: ‘You have got to get rid of this fucking Englishman.’ The director asked if he was referring to Sir Winston Churchill, the greatest statesman in the world. ‘Whoever the fuck he is, I don’t care!’ came the reply. ‘Out of the movie!’

This was crass even by the standards of Hollywood. Churchill had been famous on both sides of the Atlantic for most of his adult life – when he left on his 1907 safari, Punch asked who was going to govern England? And if he was best known in

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