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‘A compelling tragedy, but one which casts valuable new light on the outsized human dimensions of both men … Agonising but excellent’ The Telegraph

‘In this fascinating account of the turbulent Churchill father-and-son relationship, Josh Ireland shows how central Winston and Randolph were to each other’s lives’ Andrew Roberts

Few fathers and sons can ever have been so close as Winston Churchill and his only son Randolph. Both showed flamboyant impatience, reckless bravery, and generosity of spirit. The glorious and handsome Randolph was a giver and devourer of pleasure, a man who exploded into rooms, trailing whisky tumblers and reciting verbatim whole passages of classic literature. But while Randolph inherited many of his fathers’ talents, he also inherited all of his flaws. Randolph was his father only more so: fiercer, louder, more out of control. Hence father and son would be so very close, and so liable to explode at each other.

Winston’s closest ally during the wilderness years of the 1930s, Randolph would himself become a war hero, serving with the SAS in the desert and Marshal Tito’s guerrillas in Yugoslavia, a friend of press barons and American presidents alike, and a journalist with a ‘genius for uncovering secrets’, able to secure audiences with everyone from Kaiser Wilhelm to General Franco and Guy Burgess.

But Randolph’s political career never amounted to anything. As much as he idolised Winston and never lost faith in his father during the long, solitary years of Winston’s decline, he was never able to escape from the shadow cast by Britain’s great hero. In his own eyes, and most woundingly of all his father’s, his life was a failure. Winston, ever consumed by his own sense of destiny, allowed his own ambitions to take priority over Randolph’s. The world, big as it was, only had space for one Churchill. Instead of the glory he believed was his birthright, Randolph died young, his body rotted by resentment and drink, before he could complete his father’s biography.

A revealing new perspective on the Churchill myth, this intimate story reveals the lesser-seen Winston Churchill: reading Peter Rabbit books to his children, admonishing Eton schoolmasters and using decanters and wine glasses to re-fight the Battle of Jutland at the table. Amid a cast of personalities who defined an era – PG Wodehouse, Nancy Astor, The Mitfords, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Lord Beaverbrook, William Randolph Hearst, Oswald Mosley, Graham Greene, Duff and Diana Cooper, the Kennedys, Charlie Chaplin, and Lloyd George – Churchill & Son is the lost story of a timeless father-son relationship.

Reviews

A fascinating, acute and touching portrait of Churchill and Randolph, revealing there's no greater curse than to be the son of a great man
Simon Sebag Montefiore
Beautifully written, revelatory, evocative and hugely timely. A triumph
Damien Lewis
In this fascinating account of the turbulent Churchill father-and-son relationship, Ireland shows how central Winston and Randolph were to each other's lives. Randolph has rarely been approached so sympathetically as in this well-researched and well-written book
Andrew Roberts
An immersive account of Churchill's tempestuous relationship with his only son, Randolph ... Entertaining and insightful
Publishers Weekly
Ireland draws unforgettable sketches of life in the Churchill circle, much like Erik Larson did in The Splendid and the Vile ... Tragedy as well as triumph in this meticulous, fascinating tale of three generations of Churchills
Kirkus
This is a revelatory portrait of an explosive relationship between a great man and his infamous son. With skill and sensitivity, Josh Ireland lays bare the anguish of their dysfunctional love
Jonathan Dimbleby
No matter how low Randolph's reputation plummeted, Winston's love remained undimmed and this fine book may now allow the rest of us to appreciate the younger Churchill's merits
The Times
A fascinating study of the family relationship beneath the most dramatic events of the twentieth century. It is the thrilling story of a man trapped between an epic sense of entitlement and the constant awareness of his own failure - Joshua Levine, author of Dunkirk
A compelling tragedy, but one which casts valuable new light on the outsized human dimensions of both men ... Agonising but excellent
The Telegraph