Churchill as Home Secretary (Hardback)
Suffragettes, Strikes, and Social Reform 1910-11
As reviewed by Lord Lexden in 'The House' magazine - 'A solid, thorough book.'
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There can be few statesmen whose lives and careers have received as much investigation and literary attention as Winston Churchill. Relatively little however has appeared which deals specifically or holistically with his first senior ministerial role; that of Secretary of State for the Home Office. This may be due to the fact that, of the three Great Offices of State which he was to occupy over the course of his long political life, his tenure as Home Secretary was the briefest.
The Liberal Government, of which he was a senior figure, had been elected in 1906 to put in place social and political reform. Though Churchill was at the forefront of these matters, his responsibility for domestic affairs led to him facing other, major, challenges departmentally; this was a time of substantial commotion on the social front, with widespread industrial and civil strife. Even given that ‘Home Secretaries never do have an easy time’, his period in office was thus marked by a huge degree of political and social turbulence. The terms ‘Tonypandy’ and ‘Peter the Painter’ perhaps spring most readily to mind. Rather less known is his involvement in one of the burning issues of the time, female suffrage, and his portrayal as ‘the prisoners’ friend’ in terms of penal reform.
Aged 33 on appointment, and the youngest Home Secretary since 1830, he became empowered to wield the considerable executive authority inherent in the role of one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, and he certainly did not shrink from doing so. There were of course commensurate responsibilities, and how he shouldered them is worth examination.
Highlight: 'This study is a valuable addition to the existing literature on Churchill’s life and legacy; Stephenson successfully provides the reader with an in-depth insight into the ideology and leadership Churchill exercised in the Home Office and how the skills he developed ultimately formed him into one of the most prominent figures in modern history.'Elliot Clark, Political and Social Historian at the University of Plymouth
Full review available at: https://elliotclarkhistorian.co.uk/2023/12/13/review-churchill-as-home-secretary/
'A comprehensive examination of Churchill's brief time in the first of his three great offices of state, and his least favorite. Harassed by suffragettes and bedeviled by labor strikes, he nevertheless achieved prison reforms and proved himself administratively and politically suitable for high office'.William John Shepherd, The Churchill Project - Hillsdale College.
Find the review here
'Charles Stephenson, a well-established author specialising chiefly in military history, has not uncovered serious errors in the existing accounts of Churchill's brief period as home secretary in 1910-11. He seeks to supersede what is already in print about this short episode in Churchills career because he has delved more deeply into it than anyone else. In 200 pages, with another 60 listing references, this should satisfy the strongest appetite for detailed information and this aspect of the great man's life...(a) solid, thorough book.Lord Lexden, The House magazine
A really good book I would definitely recommend to others, especially if you want to read about Churchill in periods other than WW2.The History Fella
Read the Full Review Here
...(this book's) narrow focus really helps Stephenson get into the nitty-gritty of Churchill’s time at the Home Office. It deals with Churchill not as myth but as the reality, which is important with a historical figure who comes with so much baggage.Tony Cross
This is a must-read for anyone interested in Sir Winston.NetGalley, Lisa Sanderson
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Chris Hallam
Winston Churchill famously had a very long political career. His spell as Home Secretary between 1910 and 1911 came fairly early on when he was still in his thirties, after he had defected from the Tories to the Liberals, but still around thirty years before his celebrated turn as Britain's wartime saviour during the Second World War.
He wasn't Home Secretary for long but as this thorough and well-researched book tells us, his time in office reveals much about the man - particularly his now controversial views on eugenics, women's suffrage, striking Welsh miners and prisons (as a former prisoner-of-war himself during the Boer War, he was very keen to reform them). We also learn a lot about the times he lived in: a period when the Liberal Government was battling the House of Lords, rioting was a serious problem and during which Britain was fast developing a complex spy network as the world slid inexorably towards the First World War.
I expected this book to be a dry history but it isn’t. Stephenson’s usage of so many sources, citing historians, politicians and contemporary newspapers made me see the Churchill of 1910-11 with fresh eyes. He acknowledges the myths and then gently shows the lack of evidence for them – it’s a really, really good book and I thoroughly recommend it.NetGalley, Colin Edwards
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Elizabeth Major
This book is excellent. It contains a huge amount of information I had no clue about and illuminated a period in Churchill’s life that is usually forgotten about.
The author is detailed and meticulous in his research and writing.