I’m re-reading Winston Churchill’s “A History of the English Speaking Peoples”. I’m halfway through volume 4 at the moment. The series begins in 55BC with the Roman invasion of the England and covers the highlights up to the beginning of WWI.
Sir Winston was not a professional historian, he was a true student of history. Churchill like all great, thoughtful and astute leaders understood, maybe more than most, the lessons of history and the guidance history can provide for future generations.
When you read Churchill’s work, you get an English-centric view of history. It is good to get a view from the other side of the Atlantic of the emergence of our country during the revolution and the events leading up to our civil war. All of it grounded in real, unvarnished historical fact. Good reading for any American.
As I re-read the books I was again astonished at the bloodshed, carnage and chaos created by religion in England, France, Spain and other countries and regions all over the world for centuries. It is no wonder our Founding fathers wrote “freedom of religion” into our constitution, I only wish they would have written “freedom from religion”.
Churchill had a great interest in military history. His telling of how we won our revolution by winning so few battles against the English is refreshing.
Churchill lays out why the North won the civil war, not only because the North was on the right side of history, but because of the geographical and industrial advantages that doomed the Confederacy from the opening days of the conflict.
Churchill writes the South had arrogantly expected Britain and Europe to come to their aid and he reminds us that no foreign power recognized the Confederacy during the conflict.
Churchill’s thoughts on Robert E. Lee point out that Lee was conflicted at the beginning of succession and even after a long consultation with President Lincoln where he was offered command of the Union Army, Lee made his choice to resign and go home to Virginia to become a traitor to his nation and his entire, illustrious career as a soldier for the United States of America. Churchill felt Lee lost his chance at greatness the day he rode across the Potomac.
In earlier volumes Churchill writes of feudalism’s roots in the Roman system of government in every part of the Roman Empire.
He writes of religion’s caustic effects on civil society across the world.
He writes of beginning and growth of the rights of average citizens to have a say in the way they are governed in English Common Law and how the American and French Revolutions spurred that thinking world-wide.
“A History of the English Speaking Peoples” is well worth reading. If for no other reason than it reinforces :
“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” ― Edmund Burke