Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2 Minute Book Review

Winston S. Churchill's The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan

Okay, I didn't finish this one. I was too filled with disgust with Churchill as I went through it. I know enough about history to know that he harbored a lot of old-time racist views, but that's part of why I read him. He's a fantastic writer, of course, but his racism creeps in. That's part of the historical moment, and it should be read as a more complete way of understanding the time. The real danger would to have that incomplete and adoring vision of him that so many do.

In this book about the reconquest of the Sudan however, it was overwhelming. So much of what Hitler was arguing about race, he just kind of takes for granted here. I'm not going to compare him to Hitler. That's a ridiculous game to play. The big difference is that he saw other races as being inferior and wanted to save them from themselves. Now, I know that's not a good way of seeing life, but it is much better than whole-sale genocide. Churchill's kind thinking led to the destruction of many people and cultures. Anyway, it's right in your face here as he describes the problems of people as being the result of their inferiority.

Will I continue to read his work? Yes. He's a fascinating figure and his life touched the world in so many ways that Americans don't often think about. After all, he's not our leader. He was in the world during a time of extraordinary change, and he had a good view of all of it.

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