A beautiful, informative and entertaining present for all ages

Churchill. A Graphic Biography - Vincent Delmas, Ivanka Hahnenberger, C. Regnault

Thanks to Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for sending me an early paperback copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

I am not a big reader of graphic novels and books (I used to read them when I was younger but not that much in recent years), but this title caught my attention due to the subject matter and to the authors and contributors. The book, which was first published in French in 2018, had some excellent reviews, and although I’m not an expert, in my opinion they are well deserved.

The book is not a full biography (we don’t see the great man die), but we follow him from early childhood until the end of World War II, and especial attention is given to the war period. The book also includes a foreword by Andrew Roberts —an expert on Churchill who has written about him and about WWII— endorsing the book, and an introduction (with B&W and colour photographs) and brief biography of Churchill by François Kersaudy, historical consultant of the volume, which further enhances the content.

The illustrations are beautiful and well-executed, in a classical style, with an interesting use of colours and shadows. Although they are in full colour, green, ochre, brown, and dark hues predominate from the beginning, as if foreshadowing the coming war, and the last part of the book (approximately the last fifty pages) are dedicated fully to World War II. There is a predominance of illustrations about his public life (as a war reporter, in the military, and later as a politician), but there are also some about his personal life, where we get to see Churchill, the man. The moments of action are interspersed with some quieter ones, although the illustrations dealing with the war, attacks, and action, are particularly fine and impressive. The text complements the images perfectly, and the writer has chosen the materials well, highlighting snippets of speeches and expressions he is well known for. That does not mean the book paints an unrealistic picture of Churchill, showing him as heroic and always right, without flaws or foibles. The man emerges from the picture as well, with his stubbornness, his recklessness at times, and his determination to do whatever necessary (not always the most suitable attitude for a politician, although the opposite isn’t particularly desirable either).

This is a great book to introduce Churchill to people of all ages who might not be too familiar with his biography, or know very little about him, who like to experiment with other formats rather than the standard book or are fans of graphic novels and books, and who enjoy their history in bite-size and visual format. The book is larger than a standard paperback, and it would make a beautiful present for anybody interested in the subject, in WWII, or just fans of graphic novels.  It’s also particularly appealing at this time of crisis, when the role of politicians has come to the fore, and it’s impossible not to compare our current leaders with some memorable figures from the past and wonder how they might have dealt with the situation.

(There are, of course, action scenes depicting the war, although not particularly gross or explicitly gore, although parents of very young children might want to check the book themselves beforehand).