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Winston Churchill's Illnesses, 1886–1965 (Hardback)

Frontline Books Churchill 20th Century Military

By Allister Vale, John Scadding, Foreword by Randolph Churchill
Frontline Books
Pages: 522
Illustrations: 40 black and white
ISBN: 9781526789495
Published: 15th October 2020

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Allister Vale and John Scadding have written the definitive account of Churchill's illnesses. Their expertise as physicians has been brought to bear on the interpretation of the evidence, much of it available for the first time…Vale and Scadding have produced a well-researched and highly readable book that will be essential reading for Churchillians and other historians of the period, as it provides so much new material and many new insights. Clinicians and general readers alike who wish to understand the impact of illness on arguably the greatest leader of the twentieth century will also find the book of great interest. - From the Foreword by Randolph Churchill

In this meticulously researched volume, Allister Vale and John Scadding provide a uniquely comprehensive and readable account of Churchill’s many medical problems, from childhood to his terminal illness, set in the context of his life as one of the greatest statesmen of the twentieth century. Pneumonia threatened Churchill’s life on several occasions and in his later decades he suffered multiple strokes; his ability to continue in high office during these illnesses was exceptional, aided by some of the most distinguished specialists of their time. Drawing on many medical and non-medical sources, the clinical, political and personal aspects of his many illnesses are woven seamlessly together. A superbly rounded account of the great man emerges in a most engaging narrative. - Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill, Walking with Destiny

Much has been written about Churchill’s health and much has been rumour and speculation. This is the definitive work on the subject, written by experts and grounded in the evidence. - Allen Packwood, author of How Churchill Waged War

Allister Vale and John Scadding have written the definitive account of Churchill's illnesses and document all Churchill's major illnesses, from an episode of childhood pneumonia in 1886 until his death in 1965. They have adopted a thorough approach in gaining access to numerous sources of medical information and have cited extensively from the clinical records of the numerous distinguished physicians and surgeons invited to consult on Churchill during his many episodes of illness. These include not only objective clinical data, but also personal reflections by Churchill’s family, friends and political colleagues.

Review by Arpan K. Banerjee

Churchill’s illnesses are placed in a political and historical context in this volume, providing readers with fresh insights into this remarkable twentieth-century political giant. The authors have produced a fine work of scholarship and deserve to be congratulated for their herculean efforts in writing this volume.

Click here for the full review

Hektoen International Journal

Mr Churchill, the doctor will see you now: New book reveals wartime PM's medical records detailing his various ailments from pneumonia in office to providing a skin graft to fellow soldier injured in famous 1898 Battle of Omdurman

Daily Mail Online 18/02/21

The authors make excellent use of primary sources, including the medical notes and clinical records of the physicians who attended on Churchill. Vale and Scadding are both themselves physicians and their training and experience is evident in the interpretations and judgements made on the medical issues discussed in the volume. Based on their series of journal articles on Churchill’s medical history, the book is extensively researched and well-written.

Winston Churchill’s Illnesses 1886-1965 is the authoritative account of the widely discussed subject of Churchill’s medical history.

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Winston Churchill Blog

I should say here that this is the second Winston Churchill book that I‘ve read recently, but this book is actually taking a look at another part of Churchill’s life, his illnesses. This book is not just for those into medicine and issues as the medical information is wrapped in with historical events and it’s good to judge what illnesses were being suffered by Churchill with historical events. This book is very informed and comprehensively written, the book is very well balanced to enable both the history reader and the reader on the medical side. It was also interesting to read from a personal viewpoint having suffered a stroke myself, it was revealing to see how his strokes affected him like myself. Although the book takes a different angle it was nice to read rather than the usual Churchill book, a book I enjoyed with interest.

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UK Historian

A book which will appeal to historians, readers with historical antennae and doctors who appreciate the interplay between diseases and their patient’s lives. And what a life.

Read the full review here

BMJ Blogs

As featured by

Churchill Society of Tennessee, Summer 2020

Much has been written about Churchill’s health and much has been rumour and speculation. This is the definitive work on the subject, written by experts and grounded in the evidence.

Allen Packwood, author of How Churchill Waged War

In this meticulously researched volume, Allister Vale and John Scadding provide a uniquely comprehensive and readable account of Churchill’s many medical problems, from childhood to his terminal illness, set in the context of his life as one of the greatest statesmen of the twentieth century. Pneumonia threatened Churchill’s life on several occasions and in his later decades he suffered multiple strokes; his ability to continue in high office during these illnesses was exceptional, aided by some of the most distinguished specialists of their time. Drawing on many medical and non-medical sources, the clinical, political and personal aspects of his many illnesses are woven seamlessly together. A superbly rounded account of the great man emerges in a most engaging narrative.

Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill, Walking with Destiny

About Allister Vale

Allister Vale is Consultant Clinical Pharmacologist and Toxicologist at City Hospital, Birmingham and holds an honorary chair in the University of Birmingham. He is a former Censor of the Royal College of Physicians and was awarded the President’s Medal. He has been elected President of professional societies in the UK, Europe and the US. He was Chairman of the Ministry of Defence Research Ethics Committee.


About John Scadding

John Scadding is Honorary Consultant Neurologist Emeritus to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, and was formerly also its Medical Director and Chairman of its Medical Committee. He was Academic Dean of the Royal Society of Medicine. He is Chairman of the Independent Medical Expert Group at the Ministry of Defence and formerly Vice-Chairman of its Research Ethics Committee.


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