Getting The World to Listen

A few days before he was to address the 33rd International Churchill Conference held in Washington, D.C. last month, a reception and book signing was held at Locksley Manor, the home of Ron and Danielle Bradley, for the Right Honorable Lord Alan Watson of Richmond.

Recently published and now a best seller on the Bloomsbury Publishing’s rankings, Churchill’s Legacy: Two Speeches to Save the World is a compelling story of how Churchill in a single year regained the intellectual and moral leadership of the free world.

Countless books have been written about Churchill: from whole life biographies to studies about his voracious wit, his love of painting and fine cigars. Churchill’s Legacy adds a deeper dimension to the mind and intellect of the great statesman in arguably his most decisive year as he addressed the world in his two most famous speeches at Fulton, Missouri, and Zurich, Switzerland, in 1946.

“We had so many friends who are fascinated with Winston Churchill or their parents who had met him,” Danielle explained. Surrounded by beautifully painted murals of cherubs frolicking among florals in the pale blue Ballroom, Lord Watson charmed a rapt audience as he wove that inimitable English wit throughout the recounting of events surrounding the two speeches.

In his talk, Watson described, still smoldering from the ravages of war, Europe lay devastated. So too was Churchill, rejected by the British electorate and engulfed in the worst depression of his life, the “black dog mood”. In the post arrives an invitation from the President of Westminster College in Fulton to address the world with a promise from President Harry Truman to accompany him if he accepts.

There Churchill delivers the “Iron Curtain” speech warning America of the danger of ‘Uncle Joe’ Stalin who was determined to dominate Europe at any cost. He’s labeled a war monger. Six months later in Zurich, Churchill boldly proposes the need for a united Europe, led by a partnership between France and Germany, once enemies, to stave off Stalin’s encroachment.

The speeches were denounced at the time but succeeded in changing political perspectives that led to the restoration of Europe. Churchill’s genius would be forever secured in world history, and out of his black dog mood he would be personally liberated in the profound relief his words did not fall on deaf ears.

Questions and answers followed, and in a most cheerful and jovial air, Lord Watson moved to the library to spend a few moments with each guest as he signed his book. Sharing stories and offering famous retorts only a Churchillian scholar could deliver, one could almost smell the aroma of a stogie and brandy.

Alan Watson is a broadcaster, author, High Steward of Cambridge University, former President of the Liberal Party, public relations consultant and Peer. An accomplished public speaker, presenter, campaigner and consultant, his fascination with Churchill has been lifelong.

Churchill’s Legacy: Two Speeches to Save the World is a must read for anyone interested in history and politics, or genius.