I downloaded and listened to this relatively short set of lectures recently, and it wasn’t one of my favorites. While I liked the subject matter and learned a lot about Churchill, Fears’ treatment is pretty uncritical, and at times inconsistent. For example, at one point he calls Churchill a political genius and then within only a few moments points out what terrible political decisions he made.
More important, while there is much to praise, of course, his principal thesis that a great leader must have a moral compass, that Churchill did, and that it was the defense of freedom, he never even attempts to really reconcile Churchill’s alleged commitment to freedom with his even greater commitment to the preservation of the British Empire during World War II and after. Freedom from Nazi tyranny was all very fine, of course, but freedom from political and economic domination by Great Britain – that was a different matter entirely. It may be, as he has Churchill saying, that allowing colonial peoples independence was not likely to result in a better outcome for them, but it is hard to reconcile that statement with Fears’ claim that Churchill was, first, last and always, committed to freedom.
But I did learn a lot, and the lectures provided a good framework for diving into some of the biographies that I eventually need to get around to reading.