The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill compiled by Dominique Enright (160 pages, 2001)
Winston Churchill was one of the towering personalities of the 20th century and an infinitely interesting character. He was a soldier and a painter, an inventor and a statesman, a writer and an orator, a man of the Old World, and a maker of the New. Churchill was many things, but for many of us what stands out is his razor-sharp wit. In The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill author Dominique Enright compiles and presents some of the many wonderful quotes from one of the most quotable men of the past century.
The book is divided into various sections, with quotes categorized according to their topic. So we have chapters containing quotes on everything from Politics, Words, Animals, Speeches, Friends, the Nations, Women, Drink, Anecdotes, and Epigrams. There is a brief biography at the beginning of the book to orient the reader. Enright draws from a wide range of subjects and shows us some of the breadth of Churchill’s prodigious conversational repertoire. She writes as an admirer of Churchill without falling into the temptation to idolize her subject. Many of the quotes contained in this book will have been found in other places (and some of the quotes you may have heard in other places will be questioned in this book), but there is much here that was new to this reader and perhaps it will be entertaining to you as well.
This is a fun book. Not too deep, not too detailed, and not too dense. Enright seeks to strike a balance between quotes that are edifying and quotes that are entertaining. I’m not sure that she always succeeds, as I found myself wishing there had been a few more “zingers” on the entertainment front. That said, there was much here that was interesting and it was a very quick read. I felt like the biography at the front was helpful, but I imagine that someone who wasn’t very familiar with Churchill would need more than that brief introduction to always appreciate the quotes contained in the book. There were a few times (really very few times) where the explanation of a quote was written clumsily, but all in all, Enright selected good material and presented it well. I enjoyed the book immensely and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good chuckle from Churchill.