Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Blog
Website
The Great Republic: A History of America
ISBN: 0375754407
The Great Republic: A History of America
The Great Republic is Sir Winston Churchill's personal vision of American history, from the arrival of the first European settlers to the dawn of the Cold War, edited by his grandson, the historian and journalist Winston S. Churchill. The book is a magnificent retelling of the American story, including some of the best short histories of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War ever written. The bulk of this book, America's history up to the twentieth century, has until now been found only within Churchill's much longer four-volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953. The chapters on America from that larger work have been knit together into a whole, and to them Winston S. Churchill has added essays and speeches of his grandfather's, many never before published in book form, to bring the book up to the mid-twentieth century.

Sir Winston Churchill's renown as a statesman has tended to overshadow his great gifts as a historian. History was the work of his heart's delight, and few subjects were dearer to him than America. His mother, Jennie Jerome, was American, and all of his life Churchill harbored a deep warmth of feeling for this country and a sense of its special destiny. With fondness, he called America "the Great Republic," and in his later years he trained all of his powers on the history this book contains. The Great Republic is stirring in its sweep and breathtaking in the flash and vigor of its insights. Only an author with Sir Winston Churchill's special perspective on America, his experience as a leader and strategist, his intimacy with the responsibilities of guiding a nation, and his great gifts as a narrative historian could have written a book that lays out America's history, character, and destiny with this book's special brilliance.
—from the publisher's website

Search Audible
TRANSCRIPT
The Great Republic: A History of America
Program Air Date: November 28, 1999

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Winston S. Churchill, editor of "The Great Republic: A History of America," by Sir Winston Churchill, what was your relationship to him?
Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Editor, "The Great Republic: A History of America"): Well, he was my grandfather, and in that particular photograph, we were in the garden of 10 Downing Street; my grandfather back for his second and final term as prime minister. That would have been about 1953, I would think. I was 12 years old at the time.
LAMB: What do you remember about him?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, so much. My very first memories are of the wartime years when, apparently, I was very insistent that I needed a model railroad. And, of course, there were no toy stores during the blitz in London, but he had inquiries set on foot and, to his huge delight, managed to track down a secondhand railway set. And he actually got down on his hands and knees on the carpet with me and set about setting this thing up--a circular track. And to his huge delight, he saw it had two locomotives--clockwork. He said, `Winston, you wind one up.' I must have been about three-and-a-half at the time. `I'll wind the other one up. We'll put them back to back. Let's have a crash.' That's my very first memory of him.

But, of course, as soon as the war was over, then I really got to know him because he was no longer in office. He was given unceremoniously the order of the boot. And in the years at Chartwell after the war, when I was five or six, that's when I really came to know him. And, of course, right up to his death when I was 24 years of age and shortly before that, he hadn't been well enough to come over here to receive the US honoree citizenship that Jack Kennedy conferred on him, and I went with my father, Randolph, who received the honor on his behalf.
LAMB: The picture we just saw is from that ceremony. How old were you in this picture?
Mr. CHURCHILL: I was would have been 22 at the time.
LAMB: What do you remember about this day?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, it--it was a fabulous day. The president received us in the Oval Office, and then we went out for the ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House. And it was a very emotional day for me, for my father, that we had been asked to accept this honor on my grandfather's behalf.
LAMB: Who was your father?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Randolph, only son of an only son, I am. And he was a journalist. He tried many times to enter Parliament and never made it. But he was probably the best-known British journalist of his day and war correspondent, and it was really in his footsteps that I followed when I left college and decided to embark on a career in journalism.
LAMB: What year did he die?
Mr. CHURCHILL: He died two years younger than I am now, 1968, D-Day, 6th of June.
LAMB: And your career.
Mr. CHURCHILL: My career started off in journalism on the copy desk of The Wall Street Journal because I happened to find myself over here the summer of '59, and I was 18 years old looking for a summer job between school and going to Oxford in the fall. And somebody had the bright idea and said, `Winston, why don't you get a job in Senator Kennedy's--Senator John F. Kennedy's campaign office in Washington,' where he was gearing up for the 1960 presidential election bid. And I thought, `What could be more fun than that?' And I whizzed off a telegram to my father in England saying, `Isn't this fantastic?'

Well, it seems that he didn't think so, and it provoked the rudest telegraphic response I've ever had in my life. He wrongly assumed that Jack Kennedy himself had offered me the job and said, `Ask Jack what happened to British Ambassador Sackville West 1886, stop.' Now that took some researching. It turned out that the British ambassador had poked his nose into American domestic politics and been thrown headfirst into the Potomac River for his pains. And the telegram continues, `Suggest you find something less politically and climatically hot than Washington. Let me know if I can help. Love, signed Father.' That was the beginning and ending of my involvement in American domestic politics. So I then became a journalist working on the copy desk of The Wall Street Journal.
LAMB: How long'd you do that?
Mr. CHURCHILL: That was just a summer job, eight weeks, but it was a wonderful initiation into journalism. And when, about three or four years later, I found myself in Vietnam reporting for Look magazine and the British media, I thought I knew nobody in all of Southeast Asia. And I was walking down Chuday Street. Suddenly a yell from the far side of the street, and it was Johnny Apple, better known as R.W. Apple Jr. of The Times, who said, `Winston, come to my place this evening.' We'd been on the copy desk together. He said, `We're celebrating.' I said, `What are we celebrating, Johnny?' And he turned around and showed me the denim seat of his pants with two clean holes through them. He said, `That's what we're celebrating: At 0500 hours this morning, war zone D.' And he said, `I didn't have a scratch.'
LAMB: So your career from The Wall Street Journal until--what was the first year you were elected to Parliament?
Mr. CHURCHILL: 1970.
LAMB: What did you do in those years...
Mr. CHURCHILL: I was...
LAMB: ...'60 to '70?
Mr. CHURCHILL: ...a correspondent for the London Times. I reported the Six-Day War and wrote a book with my father, Randolph, on it entitled "The Six Day War," which became a best-seller at the time. And I was in Czechoslovakia shortly before the Soviet tanks rolled in and reported the Nigerian civil war in--from both sides, but including the Biafran side. And, basically, my job description with The Times was east of Suez farming. Whenever there was--something flare up, they--they sent me there.
LAMB: One of the things you learn in this book is that your grandfather's--What?--one of his grandfathers started a Rochester, New York, newspaper? Am I getting the right relative there?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, yes, indeed. But more importantly, my grandfather's maternal grandfather, Leonard Jerome, was the proprietor of The New York Times. And this would have been in the--about the 1870s, I think. And at one stage, there was a--a lockout, and apparently he issued machine guns to hs staff.
LAMB: So this book, "The Great Republic," what is it?
Mr. CHURCHILL: It is a history of America through the eyes of Winston Churchill, my grandfather. And I think that most Americans will be amazed to learn that Winston Churchill wrote a marvelous history of their country. The reason that they will be amazed at this is that, up to now, it's been effectively buried within the massive four-volume "History of the English-Speaking Peoples," which spans a broad panorama of two millennia of British history, from Julius Caesar's invasion of Britain in 55 BC right up to the dawn of the 20th century.

But in among that are some really fabulous chapters about the voyages of discovery, the 13 colonies, the row with England, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and, above all, the Civil War. My grandfather got so excited and impassioned about the Civil War that, in 1929, he actually went down to Virginia and tramped across some of the battlefields and impressed into his service as a guide an old man who, as a young boy, had been in the thick of some of the fighting there in the woods of Spotsylvania.
LAMB: In the chapter on The Old Battlefields of Virginia, he wrote this. He said, `No one can understand what happened merely through reading books and studying maps. You must see the ground, you must cover the distances in person, you must measure the rivers and see what the swamps were really like.' Have you followed that same principle of your grandfather?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, on m--just this week, when I've been over here in the States, I went down to Plymouth village and--and--to visit the Mayflower II because, in the course of my research, as I stumbled on the fact that--it looks highly likely that my grandfather may have had not one, not two, but even three ancestors who sailed on the Mayflower. And I--he had enormous admiration for the--the courage of those people, who set forth in such a small boat against such great dangers, not only the massive seas they encountered on the way, but the hazard of what would--what they would find on their arrival.

And, yes, that's the ancestry that I managed to trace. It--it's wonderful what one can do with the Internet these days. In the spring of this year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as the Mormons, dumped on to the Internet the records of 300 million individuals who were born, married or died either in America or in England. And it's a bit quirky. It--it's a search site called www.familysearch.org. And I put in my grandfather's name, and the system didn't recognize him. I put in my great-grandmother's name--my American great-grandmother, Jennie Jerome, from Brooklyn, New York--and suddenly a whole tr--family tree sprouted, 255 ancestors on the American side of my family of whom I'd previously been unaware, and some of them going back 28 generations to Deepest Devon and the year 1122. And that particular branch of the family, in 15 generations, didn't move 15 miles.
LAMB: This is your...
Mr. CHURCHILL: And then suddenly one said, `So long, folks. I'm on my way,' and sailed across the Atlantic. And I--my admiration for those--they--they were the builders of America--is enormous.
LAMB: And this?
Mr. CHURCHILL: This is my--I--my great-grandmother, Jennie Jerome, a very great beauty of her day. And she was a very formative influence on Winston in more ways than one, I suspect. I believe that the odd mixture of American revolutionary blood with the Morbra blood, which had slept through seven generations since John Churchill I and great duke of Morbra had his spectacular victories over Louis XIV at the turn of the 18th century. But suddenly, the Morbra dynasty was fired to new heights of heroics in my grandfather's generation. And I think that must have had something to do with his American blood.

But Jennie was a very resourceful lady with lots of powerful contacts, and my grandfather would use her shamelessly to promote his career. I mean, he was chasing wars wherever they were--happened. He wanted medals. He wanted to be noticed because, in those days, to launch a career in politics, you either needed money or you needed fame. He didn't have money, and so it was fame he was seeking. And he was seeking it in the--in the muzzle of the gun.
LAMB: So your great-grandmother was an American, Jennie Jerome.
Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes.
LAMB: And your mother was an American.
Mr. CHURCHILL: No, my mother was English but became an American citizen.
LAMB: That's what I meant, yeah.
Mr. CHURCHILL: When she married Averill Harriman, she became an American. And then, of course, after Averill's death, President Clinton appointed her American ambassador to France.
LAMB: So what was it like based--I mean, a lot of the history in here, the French, English, American connection--having Pamela Harriman, your mother, be the ambassador to France?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, it was wonderful because--I mean, when I was a teen-ager, my mother was living in France at the time, in the 1950s. And so for her, it was, in a way, going back home. She spoke French fluently, as indeed did I. And so that was an enormous plus from the French point of view. Th--they were absolutely--well, first of all, they were captivated that a woman such as her should be sent as ambassador. But the fact that she spoke French, too, made her work that much easier. And she--she was enormously proud to represent her country in France.
LAMB: Now how close were you to her in the last, oh, 20, 25 years of her life?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Oh, very close indeed. Every vacation, we'd be together. And when she was living in Washington with Governor Harriman, I would come over with my children to visit, and she and the governor would come over and visit us in England. So we saw a lot of each other.
LAMB: How many tr--years were you in Parliament?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Twenty-seven.
LAMB: From 19...
Mr. CHURCHILL: 1970 to 1997.
LAMB: Why did you leave?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Because my district was wiped off the face of the Earth. It just disappeared into thin air, and I don't think it was totally accidental. And what couldn't be achieved at the ballot box was achieved with what I think you call redistricting.
LAMB: As a matter of fact, your grandfather writes about it in here, gerrymandering, among other things. Why--why--why did they want to lose your constituency?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, the Labor Party had been gunning for me. I was representing the biggest industrial complex in Western Europe. Forty thousand people came to work in my district every day, and this is not natural territory for a conservative politician. And I won the seat in 1970 from the Labor Party, and they had never forgiven me for it, and they were out to get it back. I had clung on by my fingertips when the political tide was running heavily against the Tories in the mid-'70s and had increased my majority over the years. But with the disappearance of my seat, that was it. And my grandfather once said, `You need a charger to carry you into battle,' and mine had just disappeared from the stable.
LAMB: When did you get the idea for this book?
Mr. CHURCHILL: About two years ago, it suddenly hit me that the great majority of Americans would not have known that Churchill wrote a fabulous history of their country, and I decided then and there the time had come to remedy this. And, of course, "The History of the English-Speaking Peoples," which constitutes about two-thirds of "The Great Republic," that draws to a close about the year 1900. And I didn't want to leave the--the reader in mid-air, and so I've included some two dozen articles, speeches and essays written by my grandfather on 20th century America.

And they span an incredible variety of--of situations. One of the first is what he called the Chicago scandals, and he traces the plight of an immigrant family from Lithuania at the turn of the century trying to establish themselves in Chicago, working in the meat-canning industry, sort of sweated labor, Dickensian-style work practices of unrestricted capitalism and tells, with great poignancy, the terrible ordeal that confronted many of those, especially those who weren't able to take the pace. But then that is counterbalanced by 25 years on when he's in Hollywood meeting the top movie stars of the day and--just at the moment that talkies were all the rage. And he then went on to New York, where he happened to arrive just at the time of the great crash, and he records that--he said, `I--I witnessed a gentleman cast himself down from the 15th floor of his build--apartment building.'

Fortunately for the world, although my grandfather, too, had lost everything that he had saved from his writings over 30 years and lecturings in the United States over 30 years, as it--all gone--gone down the Suwannee in the great crash. Fortunately, he didn't feel impelled to join the gentleman and jump overboard.
LAMB: What did he do to get that money back?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, he just worked that much harder. He really drove himself. He was his own very fierce taskmaster. My father once recorded a conversation when he was only 18 that he had with his father in the course of a coast-to-coast tour of Canada and North America, and they're out in California and my grandfather comments that he hates to go to sleep at night without the feeling that he had done something useful that day. And he would invigilate himself. Had he produced an article for a magazine or a newspaper, had he broken the back of a chapter of a book, had he written an important speech for an upcoming debate? And he was really forcing himself.

And, of course, during the 1930s, his so-called wilderness years, when he was out of office, when he was warning of the dangers of a rearming and rearmed Germany and what that would mean for the English-speaking world, he established at his home, at Chartwell in Kent, which he loved dearly, a literary factory. And the midnight oil would burn to well beyond midnight. Even when they had dinner guests, which was most evenings, he would encourage the dinner guest to--to leave by 11 or go to bed by 11. Then he would summon his secretaries--there'd always be two out of a rotor of six secretaries that he would have on the late shift. And he would then proceed to dictate for a further three or four hours, till two or three in the morning, of course, without the interruption of telephones or visitors. And that was the way he had such a colossal output.

By the time he died, 50 volumes of history, of biography and of speeches, and, of course, he was an accomplished artist. At his death, there were some 500 canvases, some of remarkable quality, there at Chartwell. And in addition, he was a bricklayer. Built with his--largely with his own hands--three cottages and the greater part of a huge wall around his large vegetable garden, a project which I helped him on in the years immediately following the war. And to think that in between times, he even made time to beat the living daylights out of Adolf Hitler. I mean, it--it was a quite incredible output, and not just in volume, but in quality. It is so rare--for instance, Churchill is a historian. It is so rare that the makers of history are good writers of history.

My grandfather had a--a good quip when somebody said, `Well, you know, how do you think you'll be seen by history?' He said, `I have every confidence in history for I intend to write it myself.'
LAMB: Now you've been in the country for how long?
Mr. CHURCHILL: I've been in your country for 10 days out of a two-week tour, a bit of a whistle-stop 12 cities in 14 days.
LAMB: What are you finding as you address audiences?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, overwhelmingly, the--the natives are friendly, and there's a--a great deal of interest in this work. And wherever I've been, the--sadly, the publishers haven't provided enough copies for me to sign. We're running out all the time, even when they've ordered a couple of hundred copies to be on hand.

And that's my grandfather when he was 21 years old. He'd just lost his father, who had died at the age of 46, and he was a subaltern in the army. He'd just been commissioned into the 4th Hussars, and he was desperate to find action because, in the Victorian era, apart from the American Civil War, which was the huge exception, these were years of great peace. And, anyway, he used the influence of his mother to get Malakan field force on the North-West Frontier of India, and from there to the Sudan, that at that particular time, he's just on his way to his first visit to America, land of his mother's birth, on his way to Cuba to observe the Cuban Revolutionary War against Spain.

And he's not actually enormously enthused with the idea of visiting America for the first time, and the day before his ship, the Atroria, lands at--at New York Harbor, he writes to his mother saying, `I--I think I'll cut down my three-day intended stay in New York to maybe a day and a half so we can hurry along to Cuba.' Of course, within 12 hours, he'd totally revised that opinion, and he records what amazing people the Americans are and speaks of their warmth and generosity and hospitality. And instead of cutting back his stay to a day and a half, he actually extended it to six days. And that was just the first of some 15 visits he was to make in the course of his lifetime.

And he had a great love affair with this country. He felt part of it, thanks to his mother, and indeed the whole theme of his life was the unity of the English-speaking peoples. He was convinced that, provided we should--stood shoulder to shoulder foursquare, that there was no challenge, no danger that we couldn't surmount and overcome.
LAMB: He gave a speech at Harvard--got an honorary degree in 1941. And he talked about--I'm not sure this is the exact speech, but he talked about the need for basic English to be taught in the world. What did he mean by basic English, and whatever happened to his proposal?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, what he meant by basic English was that every young man and young woman should be taught in school to love and command the English language so as to be able to express themselves competently and fully in a direct and straightforward way. And that is something that shines through in his writings. He's a very direct writer, very easy to read, but with a wonderful style, which I suspect he derived quite a bit from--from Gibbon and the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."
LAMB: Some statistics: six--65 years in politics, Sir Winston Churchill; 15 visits total to the United States, first one in 1895; he had nine meetings with Franklin Delano Roosevelt for a total of 120 days; and spoke to the United States Congress three times. How many times was he elected to the House of Commons in Great Britain?
Mr. CHURCHILL: I can't give you offhand that figure.
LAMB: How many years?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, he was first elected--he--he fought unsuccessfully what was called the Carkey election. It was the time of the Boer War exactly 100 years ago, 1899. And he failed to get elected. He then set off for South Africa. And on his 25th birthday, the centenary of which falls this year, he was a prisoner of war in Pretoria, having been captured in the armored …which he wrote such a wonderful account of in "My Early Life." And that was a real turning point in his life because he determined to escape, and he could so easily have bought a bullet from one of the Boer guards, and that would have been the end of the story and I suspect the story of Britain, the story even of America and of our lives today. It would have been a whole lot different.

As it was, he made good his escape and, for a whole week, the world's press were wondering where was he, had he been captured. Various false reports came from South Africa that, indeed, he had been captured, disguised as a woman and every sort of suggestion. And suddenly he shows up in Mozambique, having escaped. It took him a week or so. And he became the hero of the hour, and thereby he achieved the--the lift-off that he needed for a political career. And he was elected the--the--immediately following election, which was the year 1900. And he was to serve in Parliament until 1964.
LAMB: How many times was he p--was he prime minister?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Twice prime minister. But in the course of those 64 years in Parliament, there were at least four occasions when he was, in the eyes of most people, finished--absolutely finished; that no way could Churchill recover from this. I mean, the first time after the Dardanelles in the First World War, for which he was made the scapegoat. And then he bounced back as minister of munitions some four years later, having been in the trenches as a soldier in the First World War, where he commanded a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers in the line. Then on two subsequent occasions, in the '20s and '30s, he was out of office. And, finally, he was given that monumental kick in the teeth by the British electorate. In the summer of 1945, in the very hour of victory, the architect of victory was discarded. And he took it quite hard, and my grandmother said, `My dear, perhaps it's a blessing in disguise,' to which he replied, `If so, it's certainly very effectively disguised.'

But I think it was a blessing in disguise for him because he had put six years of all his effort and energy into winning that war, and he was 65 when he became prime minister for the first time. And he really needed the five, six years rest, and that re-established his finances, of course, because he was able to write his war memoirs of the Second World War and then went on to complete his "History of the English-Speaking Peoples," which, as I say, constitutes about two-thirds of "The Great Republic."

And the reason I call the book "The Great Republic" is that this was the phrase that my grandfather used with great fondness to refer to the land of his mother's birth, on which all his hopes in England's darkest hours were focused for ultimate salvation and ultimate victory. He knew that we could hang on in our own island, but he was sufficient of a realist to realize that only with the full-hearted commitment of the United States could we actually defeat Naziism and liberate Europe.
LAMB: You were 24 when he died.
Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes.
LAMB: In those last years, how much time were you able to spend with him?
Mr. CHURCHILL: A lot. And--and what amazes me, looking back, is even when he was prime minister for the second time, anytime I would write to him from school, immediately a handwritten note back or a typewritten note with a big handwritten portion to it. And I--I would spend always a part of my vacation with my grandparents at their home in Chartwell, and I well remember when I had just graduated from Oxford and I'd learned to fly airplanes, and I was about to embark on a flight around Africa in a single-engine plane. And this came to my grandfather's ears, and he was concerned and he summoned me to lunch with him at his London home, Hyde Park Gate. And it was just the two of us, and he said, `This is a very hazardous enterprise. I'm not sure I'm in favor of it at all.'

And I had long since learned that the only way to deal with belligerent Churchills was to go full speed into the attack. I was 21 at the time, and I said, `Grandpapa, how dare you?' I said, `When you were my age, you were about to leave for Africa, too, but not in a modern, well-equipped little airplane, but with your charger and your lance and your pistol to take part in one of the last great cavalry charges of history at the Battle of Omdurman. And you are telling me that what I propose to do is hazardous?' `Mm, I--I think you have a point. You have my blessing.'
LAMB: Did you do it?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Oh, yes, 20,000 miles, 40 countries, a wonderfully exciting trip. I interviewed Haile Selassie. I spent five days with Albert Schweitzer at Lamborini in French Equatorial Africa at his hospital. I was in Katanga in the Congo at the moment that Moise Trombay was put in the bag by the United Nations; went on patrol with the Portuguese army in Angola and--apart from getting lost in a tropical thunderstorm over the Congo, which was nearly the end of my story.
LAMB: What's the reaction when you call people and say, `Winston Churchill calling'?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, it can produce a rather strange reaction, I--I have to say. And, I mean, you know, some will say, `Oh, isn't he dead?' But that is a mild reaction I have. The--the first time it hit me was on my first visit to America. I was 15 years old and it was New Year's Eve. And I went down to Times Square, and there was a--an amusement arcade, and they had sort of metal ducks going around on a track and I--I was shooting with a rifle. And suddenly I became aware of th--the proprietor. I saw a 285-pounder from Brooklyn was standing at my side. He said, `Say, son, you're doing mighty fine with that rifle. What's your name?' I told him my name. No one ever questioned my name before in England. And he almost swallowed the butt end of his cigar and became all belligerent, and he said, `If you're Winston Churchill, I'm Marilyn Monroe.'

But then, of course, a few years later, when I was reporting the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, at the time of the big anti-war demonstrations--and the main convention hotel, the Conrad Hilton on Michigan Avenue, was surrounded by some 550 National Guardsmen and police, all armed to the teeth. And as I approached the convention hotel, where I was staying, coming back from the stockyards, I suddenly found myself bodily lifted from the ground by two rather portly members of Mayor Daley's police department, who said, `Where do you think you're going, Mister?' And I said, `To my hotel.' They said, `You're not in this hotel. What's your name?' Like an idiot, I told them. They had a total sense of humor failure. They put me down only long enough to draw their nightsticks and crack me over the head.
LAMB: Did you suffer an injury because of that, or did...
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, I took it on my forearm, so I was lucky. There were others who were less lucky than me.
LAMB: Back to the--the times that you spent with your grandfather. Did you ever write down what he'd said to you in private?
Mr. CHURCHILL: No.
LAMB: Did he ever say things to you that s--now looking back on it, are--were surprises or meaningful differences from what you knew him to think at that time? And p--did he say things in private that he wouldn't say in public?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Not--not to me, no. I mean, we--we talked, obviously, a lot about family. We talked a little bit about the war, but--and current events. I remember the first political conversation I had with my grandfather was at the time of the British-French fiasco at Suez in 1956. And I said to him, `Grandpa, what's your opinion of this?' `Mm, I don't know that I should've had the courage to start it in the first place. I certainly wouldn't have dared stop halfway.'
LAMB: Yet he's co--when you were kind of impersonating your grandfather, I wondered, here in this country, there are almost 100 people that make a living off of impersonating Abraham Lincoln. Is there any such thing like your grandfather's impersonators in Great Britain?
Mr. CHURCHILL: In Great Britain, apart from one or two people who've done it a--as a movie--Robert Hardy springs to mind--nobody does that on the lecture circuit in Britain. But I think you've got one or two who impersonate my grandfather on the lecture circuit over here.
LAMB: What is his popularity level in Great Britain today?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Oh, very high, but probably not as high as it is over here because, of course, he's still a partied political figure in Britain, and that, of course, doesn't arise in terms of countries overseas, such as the States.
LAMB: He's a Conservative in Great Britain, a Tory. He was--wasn't he also a member...
Mr. CHURCHILL: He ended up a Tory. He was in the Liberal Party for many years. And, indeed, in his youth, he was regarded as a red-hot Liberal. He was in favor of an enormous program of social welfare and social reforms. It's thanks to him that we had what was called `employment exchanges' where if people were unemployed, they could register for work; national insurance so that when they became un--unemployed, they didn't have to rely on the soup kitchen. He was one of the great social reformers of his day in the period 1908 to 1912.
LAMB: If he were here in this country--half-American--what party would he be in today, do you think?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, I would think that--I--I don't think that he would find himself to be a party man. I think he would go much more by the candidates on offer, because your two parties are broad spectrum parties. You've got some quite liberal Republicans. You've got some quite hard-line, right-wing Democrats. And those who make the parallel between British Conservative with American Republican, and British Socialism with American Democrat I think are making a huge mistake.
LAMB: Would--would you pick a party here if you could? I mean, would you--do you know what party you'd fit into?
Mr. CHURCHILL: No. I mean, loo--looking back over the years, if I had been an American voter, there would've been occasions that I would've voted for a--a Democrat as president and other occasions as a Republican as president. So, I mean, I have to say that, as a family, we have never been partied people. And my grandfather started off in the Conservative Party in 1900; 1905, he threw in his hand with them on the issue of free trade and became a Liberal right through till 1922.

And somebody once accused him of ratting. He said, `Anyone can rat, but it takes talent to re-rat.' And, of course, climbing back on board the Conservative ship was not an easy thing. And when it came to that critical moment in May 1940, the very day when Hitler unleashed his blitzkrieg against Belgium, the Low Countries and France, that was the day they turned to my grandfather, already 65 years of age, to be prime minister; that there were many Conservatives from his own party who did not want it, who felt that he was a renegade and not to be trusted.
LAMB: Your mother, Pamela Harriman, was married to Randolph Churchill, your father, for how many years?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Oh, six years, the war-time years. They met within 10 days of the outbreak of war, and they married within two weeks of that. It was a marriage, as my father put it, `made and broken by Hitler.' It was a--a--a moment of time when my father's generation felt that they were going to war; that if it was anything like the First World War, a large number would not be coming back. And there was a great herd instinct, as it were, to procreate. And so they married under pressure of the imminence of war, which they otherwise might not have done. And then because of the war, being separated, my father in North Africa and then being parachuted into Yugoslavia, they drifted apart and that was--they gave the marriage a decent burial in 1945, once my father came back from the war.
LAMB: And how long did you live with your mother?
Mr. CHURCHILL: I was always half and half; my school vacation between my father and my mother, with a large part of my time with my grandparents. In fact, I spent more time with my grandparents than with either of my parents because my father was a roving correspondent, a war correspondent, covering Suez, Korea, different crises in the world, and my mother was living in Paris at the time. And so I spent a lot of time with my grandparents.
LAMB: And you're an only child.
Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes.
LAMB: You were schooled where?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Eton.
LAMB: And?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Oxford.
LAMB: I notice that in your book you say that the Churchill archives are at Cambridge.
Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes.
LAMB: How extensive are they? What's there?
Mr. CHURCHILL: There's well over a--a million documents, about one and a half tons of documents, everything from his very first letters to his mother, aged four, up to his mother's death when Winston was 40. And there are some 1,153 handwritten letters from Winston to his mother, an incredible treasure trove there. And then, of course, there are all the scripts--the manuscripts of his historical works and biographies. And on top of that, quite a lot of his official papers, though the war-time papers, they are official records and belong to the government.
LAMB: Where are the 1,700 exchanges between FDR and Winston Churchill located?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Some--well, I--I would say that the FDR letters are in the Churchill archives at Churchill College Cambridge. And the Churchill letters are in the FDR archive at Hyde--Hyde Park.
LAMB: Have you ever been there, by the way?
Mr. CHURCHILL: I haven't, no.
LAMB: There's something called the Churchill Center. Is that US-based?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes, indeed.
LAMB: Where is it?
Mr. CHURCHILL: In Washington, DC. And it is an organization of individuals across North America who are fans of Churchill and of his writings. They have done a wonderful job in bringing back into print some of his articles and books, which had fallen--had no longer been available.
LAMB: And there's a Web site--a winstonchurchill.org Web site.
Mr. CHURCHILL: That's right, yes.
LAMB: Can you order books from that?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes, indeed, and they have a--a very lively newsletter called appropriately the Finest Hour.
LAMB: Have you ever been to Fulton, Missouri?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Oh, yes, indeed.
LAMB: And--and how do they do there with the--the famous Iron Curtain speech? Is it mem--immoralized in any way?
Mr. CHURCHILL: They had this wonderful idea of picking up the pieces of a Christopher Wren church bombed almost to destruction in the Second World War. They took the blocks, each one numbered, shipped them all the way to Fulton, Missouri, and re-erected the Church of St. Mary Alton--Aldermanbury. And it's a beautiful church, and beneath it they have put a Winston Churchill library and all to commemorate, of course, my grandfather's famous visit there in 1946. And people have often asked, `Well, why did Churchill go all the way to Missouri to make this speech?' And the answer was he knew he'd be speaking at the feet of the president of the United States, Harry Truman, who had offered to be there to introduce him.

And what is amazing now, looking back on that speech, is the shock and uproar that it caused, not as he delivered it, but by the time he got back to New York, there were a lot--hundreds of hostile demonstrators besieging his hotel on Park Avenue saying, `How can you denounce our courageous and valiant Soviet allies in this way?' But he, as so often, was a step ahead of public opinion. And what really bothered him, even from 1942 onwards, by which time he knew Hitler was licked because the United States was in the war all the way--that was just a matter of time. What really bothered him was the shape of Europe in the post-war years because he knew that the Russians and the Red Army would be at the heart of Europe.
LAMB: That was the speech, by the way, given March 5th, 1946, in Fulton, Missouri. But I wonder what he would think of this line from the speech today, based on what's happened, be--become public: `I have strong admiration in regard for the valiant Russian people and for my war-time comrade, Marshal Stalin.' You think he'd still say that?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, as my grandfather put it at the time that Hitler declared war on Stalin and Russia--my grandfather went down to the House of Commons and he said, `If Hitler had invaded hell, I would at least go to the House of Commons to make favorable reference to the devil.' He had no rose-tinted illusions about what a monster Stalin was, but the fact was that without Stalin, we would've had great difficulty overcoming Hitler.
LAMB: In that Fulton speech, he refers to important structural things in history--the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, habeas corpus, trial by jury, English common law, American Declaration of Independence--all being the foundation of both of our countries. And you also include some of this in the book. Of all those things in your life that you've studied, what's--do you think's the most important? Magna Carta, Bill or Rights, habeas corpus...
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, I--they stand together as what English people or people of English origin expect in terms of the guarantee of their freedoms.
LAMB: What's at the heart of that? What's the--what--what's--is there anything common in all that that...
Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes, that--that it is the individual who is important, not the state. The state is the servant of the individual. And, I mean, the whole theme running through Magna Carta, through the establishment of the system of the English common law and of parliamentary democracy is the idea that the state, whether he be a king, whether he be a president, has to be control. There has to be checks and balances. Otherwise, he becomes dictator.
LAMB: Twenty-seven years for you in the House of Commons. Going to do it anymore? Interested in going back?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Not really. I--I think I've played my part there, and I'm very happy to resume my life as a journalist. Just the other day I was in Israel interviewing Prime Minister Ehud Barak. And journalism was my first love and I'm very happy to go back to it and, also, to do some writing.
LAMB: Where are you going to do it? Under what auspices? What--any--any particular newspaper or...
Mr. CHURCHILL: I'm freelance. I--I do do some writing for a German newspaper, Veltam Sonntag; occasionally for The Wall Street Journal, my first employer; and occasionally for the British press, but essentially freelance.
LAMB: Where do you live?
Mr. CHURCHILL: In London.
LAMB: Are you married?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes, indeed.
LAMB: How many children?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Four.
LAMB: How old...
Mr. CHURCHILL: Five grandchildren.
LAMB: Where are they? What do they do?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, the youngest is living and working in New York, and the others are living and working in England.
LAMB: What kind of work do they do?
Mr. CHURCHILL: The eldest was six years in the Royal Navy and then became a banker. And of my two daughters, both of whom are married, one is a child photographer and the other is a criminal barrister of 10 years standing.
LAMB: Does your wife have a profession?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes, she's a jewelry designer.
LAMB: A jewelry designer. Is she with you on this trip?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes, she--she is indeed.
LAMB: The--in--in the--1938, in this book, your grandfather said, `We on this side of the Atlantic,' meaning Great Britain, `know too little of American history.' There's an impression here that we know too little of either British or European history. Ha--have things changed since 1938?
Mr. CHURCHILL: I think one could go further. I think Americans know too little of American history and the English know too little of English history. There is not sufficient attention paid to the teaching of history in our two countries. And when one's looking to the future, to the next millennium, the only pointers that we have to go by is the experience of the past. If we don't know our history, how can we hope to know the lie of the land in the years ahead?
LAMB: Your grandfather also wrote in that same time, back in 1938, that he wanted to correct the impression of Ameri--the impression we have of America of a land of money grubbers and multiple divorces.
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, of...
LAMB: That was 1938. What do you--how's it look in 1999?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, of course, people who don't have the opportunity to visit America see just the stereotypes. They see the sitcoms. They see the--the "Dallases," the "Dynasties" and they get the idea that all Americans are millionaires. But, of course, anyone who visits the country gets a very different impression. You have equally your own stereotype view of--of the English.
LAMB: We just showed a picture of you in 1963 at the White House with President Kennedy and your father. And as you know, there's a--a picture in--earlier in here of you with your grandfather. What--what's your--as we get near the end of this, what are your--your biggest memories of this man? What--what was--what was--what were his strengths?
Mr. CHURCHILL: Well, I--I knew him, of course, as a grandfather, not as a political figure. And indeed when--in the summer of '45 on VE Day, Victory in Europe Day, the 8th of May, '45, I was part of a crowd of a quarter of a million people standing outside Buckingham Palace clutching my little Union Jack flag. And the king and queen appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, and suddenly my grandfather was there.

Now this was no surprise to me. I mean, why should it be? Because every little boy is convinced that his granddaddy is the most important granddaddy in the world. And, I mean, my relationship with him was, above all, as grandson and grandfather, and that is the man that I remember. And so often people say, `Surely, he must've been awesome, unapproachable.' Nothing could've been further from the truth. He was wonderfully warm, loving, witty and a wonderful human being.
LAMB: Our guest pointed out that on the cover of this book is an American flag, which--with 48 stars on it. This is "The Great Republic: A History of America," Sir Winston Churchill, edited by his grandson, Winston S. Churchill.

Thank you very much for joining us.
Mr. CHURCHILL: My pleasure.


Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 1999. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.