young winston churchill -- 5/23/23

Today's selection -- from A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin. A young Winston Churchill, about to send the British armed forces to disaster at the Dardanelles during World War I, was already highly resented within Britain’s government:
"Though gifted in many other ways, Churchill was insensitive to the moods and reactions of his colleagues, and oblivious to the effect he produced upon others. When he gave orders that naval officers felt ought properly to have been issued by one of themselves, he inspired a collegial and institutional hostility of which he was un­aware; he did not know that they viewed him as an interfering amateur, and that his imprecision in the use of their technical language fueled their resentment.

Churchill commanding the 6th Battalion, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1916. His second-in-command, Archibald Sinclair, is seated on the left.

"He also did not know (for they did not tell him) how much his colleagues in the Cabinet were alienated by his other traits. He bubbled over with ideas for their departments, which they regarded as meddling. He talked at such length that they could not endure it. Neither subordinates nor colleagues dared to tell him to his face that he was often impossible to work with. Even [Lord] Fisher, his naval idol and mentor, whom he had chosen as First Sea Lord, found it difficult to communicate with him; though, it should be said, the problem was mutual.

"Lord Fisher, whose intuitive genius and extreme eccentricity were rather like Kitchener's, had a sudden hunch, on or before 19 January, that sending a naval expedition to the Dardanelles was a mistake. But he was never able to articulate the basis for his foreboding, so he could not persuade Churchill to change course."



David Fromkin


A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East


Holt Paperbacks


Copyright 1989 by David Fromkin


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