Map Unavailable

Date(s) - November 14, 2022
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Shaw Public Library


The Great Courses: Churchill

Professor J Rufus Fears

About this course:  Join us to view The Great Courses: Churchill.   This is a 12-part lecture series (30 minutes each) with discussion.  We will view the lectures over 6 1-hour sessions followed by discussion.  No preparation or purchase of materials is required.


September 12 at 4 PM – Lectures 1 and 2

September 26 at 4 PM – Lectures 3 and 4

October 17 at 4 PM – Lecture 5 and 6

October 24 at 4 PM – Lectures 7 and 8

November 7 at 4 PM – Lectures 9 and 10

November 14 at 4 PM – Lectures 11 and 12

Lecture Descriptions:

  1. Heritage and Destiny

On June 4, 1940, Winston Churchill spoke to Parliament, rallying a nation during the darkest days of history’s most awful war. To see what brought him there, we must begin, as he would have, with the legacy of heroism and public service he received from his ancestors, above all the great First Duke of Marlborough.

  1. Young Churchill

Despite his high birth, the “troublesome boy” Winston showed scant promise of greatness. His school career was uneven; his parents distant, even harsh. Yet as he later noted, “the solitary tree, if it grows at all, grows to be strong and sturdy.” His own blossoming began at Sandhurst, Britain’s Royal Military Academy.

  1. On the Empire’s Frontier

Churchill began manhood as a soldier of the British Empire, which he would always see as a force for good. His service was noted for its “valour, courage, and resolute spirit,” and he wrote successfully and well of his perilous experiences in Afghanistan and Africa.

  1. Political Beginnings

Churchill burned with a strong sense of ambition and family honor. Already a war hero and author, he won a seat in Parliament at 26 (his second try) as a voice for “Tory democracy.” He would be a top Cabinet minister by 34, and First Lord of the Admiralty by 37.

  1. Churchill and Controversy

Mediocrity distrusts genius. Such distrust contributed to Churchill’s fall from the Cabinet after the failure of the Dardanelles campaign. His own response to adversity revealed the nobility of spirit that enabled him not only to survive, but to triumph.

  1. Post-War Challenges

Returning to the Cabinet as Minister of Munitions—a testament to his organizing skills and “can-do” spirit—Churchill pioneered a new weapon code-named the “tank,” becoming a founding father of modern armored warfare and paving the way for victory on the Western Front.

  1. In the Wilderness

Churchill returned to the Tory party and the Cabinet in the 1920s. By decade’s end, he would resign over India. There followed years of political exile lightened by his warm family life and copious, brilliant literary output.

  1. The Nazi Menace

For most of the 1930s, Churchill was widely considered washed-up and out of touch. Undaunted, he stood nearly alone as he persistently and eloquently made the case for British rearmament and resistance to Nazi aggrandizement.

  1. Rallying the Nation

Why did Churchill, at last named Prime Minister during the stern days of May 1940, feel that all his life “had been but a preparation for this hour and this trial”? How did he resist pressures to negotiate for peace with Hitler, and instead rally his fellow Britons to meet “their finest hour”?

  1. The Tide of War Turns

In a war of powerful leaders, Churchill proved to be the supreme strategist. What were the skills and experiences that made him so successful? How did he meet the numerous and awful challenges with which the burden of wartime leadership confronted him?

  1. Champion of Freedom

In 1945, Churchill was determined that freedom’s victory not be squandered as it had been in 1918. With the war barely won, voters gave him “the Order of the Boot.” In his last years his health failed but his judgments remained astute (even prophetic) and his principles shone undimmed.

  1. The Legacy of Churchill

In what does Churchill’s greatness ultimately consist? What did he understand by liberty and democracy? What role did he see for government? Where did he learn his principles, and how did he uphold them so unswervingly over a political life of more than 50 tumultuous years?