The Fringes of Power

By John Colville,

Book cover of The Fringes of Power: 10 Downing Street Diaries, 1939-1955

Book description

The diaries of Winston Churchill's private secretary from 1941 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955 provides a unique view of World War II, of Churchill's wartime activities and those of his personal staff

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Fringes of Power as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

John “Jock” Colville, a 24-year-old Foreign Office staffer, was assigned to work at 10 Downing Street, Britain’s equivalent of the White House, at the outbreak of World War II. When Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister, Colville, who kept a detailed secret diary, chronicled the new leader’s every move as he rallied his countrymen to keep fighting Hitler’s Germany. His entries for this critical period offer a vivid behind-the-scenes portrait of Churchill, his inner circle—and his strenuous efforts to forge a close partnership with President Roosevelt, who had vowed to keep his country out of the war.

From Andrew's list on the view from London in 1941.

The opposite of Macmillan in that Colville was very young (in his mid-twenties when he started this diary) and fairly junior. What makes this book extraordinary is partly that Colville’s is Churchill’s Boswell – he was the prime minister's private secretary and saw him almost every day. Partly too, this book captures an odd kind of upper-class life that survived even during the war. It is strange to read about riding in Richmond Park in the middle of the London blitz.

From Richard's list on political diaries (United Kingdom).

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