Friday, September 7, 2012

Just back from a holiday in London and all my upcoming posts will be devoted to this great city (and the Cotswolds).  But first, before I went across the Pond, I caught the really excellent exhibit, 'Churchill: The Power of Words,' at the Morgan Library.  It's only on until the 23rd of September so if you live in the metropolitan New York area or you'll be visiting, try really hard to see it -- you won't regret it!

The exhibit highlights more than 50 years of Churchill's life (1874-1965) and features handwritten letters, speaking notes, personal and official correspondence, public statements, and recordings from some of his noteworthy speeches and broadcasts.  All of this material is from the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge and Chartwell, Churchill's home in Kent, and there have been rare opportunities to see these documents even in England. In a small, semi-enclosed room visitors can also sit down and watch black-and-white broadcasts Churchill made to members of Parliament as well as to British and American audiences.  A highlight for me is the framed award for Churchill's Honorary Citizenship of the United States.  As stated in The Morgan's calendar of events, "Sir Winston Churchill's impact upon the twentieth century is difficult to overestimate."  Writer Edward Rothstein reviewed the exhibition for The New York Times (8 June, 2012) and noted that the show demonstrates why attempts to displace Churchill from a central position in recent history are misguided.  "Flaws and failings are plentiful in individual lives, as in cultures and civilizations, but there are more important things deserving recognition: traditions that run deep and wide, that justly inspire advocacy and allegiance and that might even lead, as Churchill promises, to "broad, sunlit uplands."  It's a truly moving show.

The Morgan Library and the Churchill Archives Centre have also created a terrific website,  Though it's meant to be aimed at a younger audience and educators, the site is packed with facts, quotes, and links all presented in a lively format that will be of interest to those who are already Churchill fans and those who aren't yet.  There are great recommendations for 'Things to Do, See, and Read'; 'Places to Visit'; and 'What Else?'  It was from these that I learned about the The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States, based in New York, that I intend to learn more about.  

A unique book I discovered in the bookstore is Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill by Barry Singer, foreword by Michael Korda (Abrams).  One of the first facts I learned when I read this book's Introduction is that Singer is the proprietor of a bookstore called Chartwell Booksellers, also in New York (so now I have two New York City organizations to investigate!).  This is not at all like any other book about Churchill that's ever been published.  It is, in Singer's words, a portrait that's "both more infinite and more intimate than the standard view of Churchill.  It reveals a man who nurtured himself by partaking in a sparkling, continuous toast to all that life had to offer."

Both the exhibit and the book are hugely worthwhile.  


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