One-Minute Book Reviews

April 10, 2008

Winston Churchill’s Writing Secret

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:31 am
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Did Winston Churchill ever utter a line as bad as George Bush’s, “I know how hard it is to put food on your family”? Doesn’t seem likely, does it?

Unlike the many statesmen who have won the Nobel Peace Prize, Churchill won the Nobel Prize in literature And even critics of his policies tend to admit that he wrote some of the greatest speeches of the 20th century. What was his secret? Part of it lies this comment, in which he summed up his approach to writing:

“Broadly speaking, short words are the best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.”

Winston Churchill as quoted in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Writer’s Block Journal (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007).

Comment by Jan:
The best book I’ve read about Churchill is the first volume in William Manchester’s unfinished “Last Lion” series, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874–1932 (Delta, 1984), which has 992 pages in its current American paperback edition. A good, shorter introduction to the life of Britain’s wartime prime minister is Winston Churchill / A Penguin Life: Penguin Lives Series (Viking, 2002) by the distinguished military historian John Keegan.

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

December 7, 2007

Remembering Pearl Harbor in Books, Movies and Music

The day that Franklin D. Roosevelt called “a date which will live in infamy” also lives in libraries, bookstores and on the Web

By Janice Harayda

The English language goes down with the USS Arizona in Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen’s Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th (St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $25.95), a novel that offers a Japanese view of (and an alternate ending to) the attack that brought the U.S. into World War II. So if you’re interested in this one, you may want to head for the library or wait for the paperback due out on April 15.

I haven’t read the classic Pearl Harbor novel, James Jones’s From Here to Eternity, but it’s been praised by tough critics, including Joan Didion (and I enjoyed Frank Sinatra’a Academy Award-winning performance in the movie version, which also won the Oscar for “Best Picture”). Jones saw the attack on Pearl Harbor while serving as an infantryman in Hawaii and drew on his war experiences in the book.

The most memorable quote I’ve read about the attack came from Winston Churchill, who said that after the bombing, he “slept like a baby” for the first time in months because he knew that U.S. had entered the war at last. Alas, I’ve read so many biographies of Churchill that I can’t remember where it appeared. But a related quote appears Winston Churchill: Penguin Lives Series (Penguin, $19.95), a good short life of Britian’s wartime prime minister by John Keegan, the distinguished military historian. Keegan quotes Churchill as saying after Pearl Harbor, “So we had won after all!”

To listen to the Navy Hymn played at the funerals of the sailors who died at Pearl Harbor (and also at that of FDR), click here Put on your headphones if you’re in a library, because you’ll hear the music as soon as you click.

Other links: To read the review of Pearl Harbor posted on this site on July 30, 2007, click here You’ll find praise for Gingrich’s novel on the publisher’s site You can read about James Jones at and about From Here to Eternity at You can learn about the movie version of Jones’s novel and watch the trailer at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) at And there’s more on Keegan’s life of Churchill at,,634125,00.html

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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