Churchill and OrwellPosted: June 27, 2017
Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom
Thomas E. Ricks
Penguin Press (May 23, 2017)
Kindle edition $14.99, Amazon hardcover $18.30
I have long been familiar with George Orwell, having read 1984 and Animal Farm in high school. I really became fascinated with Orwell the man and Orwell the essayist when I was a senior in college and wanted to emulate Orwell as master of the essay. In my Claremont days after graduation I purchased Orwell’s Collected Essays. I still have the set. How many people can claim that those volumes sit on their library shelves?
More than forty years later my interest in Orwell remains, so when I saw a review of this book I knew it had to be next on my list to read. It was well worth my time.
The author ties Churchill and Orwell together by suggesting that while one came from the right and the other from the left, both were fighters for freedom and both believed that individuals were entitled to the truth, unobscured by propaganda. While he follows both men throughout their lives, much of the book focuses on World War II where both were at the height of their careers.
Churchill is, of course, a giant in modern Western history. Orwell, on the other hand, was not highly regarded during his lifetime. It was only in later decades that his reputation for foresight grew. Ricks writes about the times sales of 1984 spiked. Apparently the book went to press before the election of last November, as there is no mention of the huge surge in sales of the book after the unexpected outcome.
Ricks has a style of writing that is highly engaging and the book moves quickly. More importantly, many of the topics he discusses are more relevant than ever today.