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Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table (edition 2013)

by Cita Stelzer

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596200,849 (3.21)5
Member:tututhefirst
Title:Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table
Authors:Cita Stelzer
Info:Pegasus (2013), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, E-book, Review copies, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:ARC, NetGalley

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Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table: The Prime Minister's Tabletop Diplomacy by Cita Stelzer

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The title of this book describes it well, and yet promises more than it can deliver. The author sets out to describe the various meals Winston S. Churchill participated in, and the characters who attended them, particularly during the war years. His mannerisms and goals are gone into. The food is described in a very cursory way. There are complete chapters on his drinking and smoking. It is not an unflattering book, one can tell that the author is a fan, but it comes across as second hand knowledge, perhaps promising more than it can deliver.

This is not a book which benefits from its ebook format. I couldn't read the menus included, some of the notes seemed randomly placed. To my surprise, it ended when my Kindle said I was only 56% done. I would have hated that in most books, but this one I didn't mind. It seemed to me that the author was stretching for material by the end, and especially when I read that the author never actually sat at table with Churchill. It was interesting, in a fangirl way, but not enchanting. Others might like it, I did not much. I think I was hoping for more or better food descriptions. I should have picked up one of the books I have written by Churchill himself. I really enjoy his writing, I was feeling lazy and I got what I deserved. ( )
  MrsLee | Jan 18, 2015 |
Dinner with Churchill was a pretty delightful look at Churchill’s idiosyncrasies, love of food, mannerisms and foibles. I’d read certain accounts of the meetings and conferences of the allies but this was a new experience. Instead of Churchill the leader, the politician, we see Churchill in a light he certainly seemed to thrive under: Churchill the schmoozer, the socialiser, the conversationalist.

Ranging from recounted stories to notes made on menus or housekeeper’s instructions, the captured moments in Dinner with Churchill show that even in wartime, Churchill could make a dinner party lively and full of debate. More seriously, however, Churchill was able to use this dinner party negotiation to arrange concessions or persuade Roosevelt and Stalin to agree to his ideas with a confidence the boardroom didn’t allow.

Churchill’s confidence has always astounded me. Knowing his fight with depression, his ‘Black dog’, it is quite astounding that he achieved so much. To know that he could also play the entertainer, to charm and convince people, and to see this glimpse of the more private Churchill, at the dinner table rather than the parliamentary benches, was a quite fascinating – albeit at times slightly dry – experience.

A great read if you have any interest in Churchill and/or this period of 20th century history.

**I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation and all views are my own.** ( )
  donnambr | Nov 26, 2014 |
Given the strong reviews for this book, I found it rather superficial. There were very few anecdotes or good stories - mostly just material you'd already know if you've read any other books on Churchill. The author should be commended for trying a new angle, and for debunking the impression that Churchill was recklessly drunk much of the time, but it could have had a lot more of his personality in it. ( )
1 vote NellieMc | Jun 27, 2013 |
This is a right royal feed! Two hugely important subjects in one – Sir Winston Churchill and feeding! Cita Stelzer is a freelance editor and journalist, but worked in politics for John Lindsay, mayor of New York and Governor Hugh Carey, before becoming a reader at Churchill College, Cambridge; and a director of the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum, and her book follows Churchill’s “table-top” diplomacy efforts, their successes and failures.

Eminently readable with some great photographs – particularly of our favorite (and it would seem of his too!) room at Chartwell, the charming green and white dining room – the book chronologically follows the great man’s war years efforts to reach-out to friends and foes with his great humour, talk and amazing appetites, for food, wines, cigars and life.

(Don’t forget his mustard though!)
1 vote John_Vaughan | Apr 19, 2013 |
I think most readers have had exposure to World War II history. Most of us have at least cursory knowledge of the big players - FDR, Churchill, Stalin. I was attracted to Dinner with Churchill because of its subject matter - Churchill's use of the dinner table to forward his policies. We're talking food here - and cocktails, and conversation!

Churchill is an iconic figure. His size, his cigars, his whiskey, his indomitable spirit. He has always been a symbol of Britain's steadfast resistance to the powers of fascism throughout the devastating affects of the War. Churchill was, simply, a leader - a canny man with a broad grasp of history and an almost preternatural ability to predict possible futures based on a range of choices in any given situation. He was a man of great consequence who used his personal charisma to keep his country free of Hitler's aggression. He loved food and company and used his charisma in a very effective way - through dinner parties, luncheons, breakfasts, picnics - all opportunities for him to develop personal relationships with important figures on his staff, but also throughout the world. His stamina was epic and the stories of these encounters with Churchill and food provide fascinating insight into his policy making strategies.

Dinner with Churchill is a journey through the major events of WWII from the perspective of the binding nature of shared meals. If you love food, are interested in food history, in Churchill, in WWII or all or none of the above - this is a great and entertaining read. It'll also make you really hungry - plover's eggs, anyone? ( )
  kraaivrouw | Feb 17, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
[Cita] Stelzer's main theme is what she calls Churchill's "table-top diplomacy," his "use of dinner parties and meals to accomplish what he believed could not always be accomplished in the more formal setting of a conference room." Though aware that the policies of nations are ultimately decided by self-interest, not by friendship, he still considered personal contact essential in building trust among leaders. The book chronicles his successes and failures in this regard.
added by sgump | editWall Street Journal, Henrik Bering (Jan 15, 2013)
 
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A colorful and eloquent look at Churchill as he has never been seen before. With fascinating new insights into the food he ate, the champagne he loved, and the important guests he charmed, this delectable volume is a sumptuous and intellectual treat.

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