Ralph Waldo Emerson said "there is properly no history, only biography." You'll get some argument about that statement these days. On the other hand, in the last century and a half there is the person of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill. I think we would be hard-pressed to find a better illustration of history as biography in that time frame.
|Churchill with his son and grandson in 1953|
From his Wikipedia entry:
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill KG OM CH TD DL FRS RA (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British statesman who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer (as Winston S. Churchill), and an artist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.
|The Lion at 10 Downing Street, London, in 1940|
|Churchill in 1895|
For more information on Winston Churchill go here. And here - thanks to Steven Hayward writing at Powerline Blog - is a teachable moment from the great political philosopher, Leo Strauss, on hearing of Churchill's death in 1965. Finally, we cannot forget Churchill as a historian. He was both an extraordinary observer and compelling writer. New readers should start their journey with My Early Life: A Roving Commission, first published in 1930. I have a feeling it will not be their last volume by Churchill.
Members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives of the United States, I feel greatly honored that you should have thus invited me to enter the United States Senate Chamber and address the representatives of both branches of Congress. The fact that my American forebears have for so many generations played their part in the life of the United States, and that here I am, an Englishman, welcomed in your midst, makes this experience one of the most moving and thrilling in my life, which is already long and has not been entirely uneventful. I wish indeed that my mother, whose memory I cherish, across the vale of years, could have been here to see. By the way, I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British instead of the other way around, I might have got here on my own. In that case this would not have been the first time you would have heard my voice. In that case I should not have needed any invitation. But if I had it is hardly likely that it would have been unanimous. So perhaps things are better as they are.
Opening paragraph of Churchill's Address to Congress, December 26, 1941