Fighting every inch of the way: the Italian Campaign of 1943

In Whitehall, visible to even the most short-sighted from the gates of Downing Street, stands an outsize statue of Lord Alanbrooke, the strategic adviser to Winston Churchill during the second world war. His job was to help the prime minister see the big picture and concentrate on the decisions that really mattered. This was no easy task. Churchill was both a tricky master and ‘tinkerman’, but Alanbrooke had Ulster blood and knew how to say no. One little village, San Pietro Infine, took more than a week and 1,500 American casualties to capture He also had a remarkable facility for explaining complex strategic problems in simple terms. There is good

Churchill as villain – but is this a character assassination too far?

The veteran journalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft claims in his prologue to Churchill’s Shadow that: ‘This is not a hostile account, or not by intention, nor consciously “revisionist”, or contrarian,’ before launching into a long book that is virtually uninterrupted in its hostility to Winston Churchill, his memory and especially anyone who has had the temerity to admire Churchill or learn lessons from his life and career. Churchill revisionism is hardly new. The very first book I reviewed was Clive Ponting’s revisionist biography of 1994, since when there have been scholarly books by John Charmley, a predictably vicious one by David Irving (whose hero’s career was somewhat curtailed by Churchill) and a