SUMMARY: My Early Life, Churchill’s most
charming book, appeared in 1930 when he was in his “twelfth lustre.”
Churchill describes his autobiography as “a tale of youthful adventure,”
and the excitement of the narrative, as the author recounts his experiences in school, at war, and in politics, grips the reader in much the same way as the stories of Alexandre Dumas or Mark Twain. But Churchill also observes that in My Early Life he has painted the picture of “a vanished age”: so much has changed in politics and war since he was young that his book demonstrates the variability in regimes as well as the permanence of human nature. This colloquium explores how Churchill educated himself and offers his readers an education through his autobiography.
James W. Muller is Professor of Political Science at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, where he has taught since 1983, and Academic Chairman of the Churchill Centre in Washington, DC. Educated at Harvard, he served as a White House Fellow (1983-84) and won the Farrow Award for Excellence in Churchill Studies (1995). He is editor of The Revival of Constitutionalism (Nebraska, 1988), Churchill as Peacemaker (Cambridge, 1997), Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” Speech Fifty Years Later (Missouri, 1999), and the definitive edition of Winston S. Churchill, The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan, 2 vols. (St. Augustine’s Press, forthcoming). He is at work on a book on Churchill’s writings.