[Roberts] writes elegantly, with enjoyable flashes of tartness, and is in complete command both of his sources and the vast historiography. For a book of a thousand pages, there are surprisingly no longueurs. Roberts is admiring of Churchill, but not uncritically so. Often he lays out the various debates before the reader so that we can draw different conclusions to his own ... Some may find Roberts’s emphasis on politics and war old-fashioned, indistinguishable, say, from the approach taken almost half a century ago by Henry Pelling. He is out of step with much of the best British history being written today... [blending] cultural and intellectual history with the study of high politics. But it would be foolish to say Roberts made the wrong choice. He is Thucydidean in viewing decisions about war and politics, politics and war as the crux of the matter. A life defined by politics here rightly gets a political life. All told, it must surely be the best single-volume biography of Churchill yet written.
'He was quite magnificent,' Dalton wrote [of Churchill]. I defy anybody to finish this terrific book, which bursts with character, humour and incident on almost every page, without sharing Dalton’s view. Magnificent is indeed the word ... this is a familiar story, but [Roberts] tells it superbly ... Roberts tells this story with enormous confidence, drawing on a vast range of sources to present what is undoubtedly the best single-volume life of Churchill ever written.
We now have two reasons to be grateful to Mr. Roberts: the first is that his is unarguably the best single-volume biography of Churchill (and so good that it makes redundant Martin Gilbert’s multi-volume labors); the second is that, as a result, no reasonable person will write a Churchill biography for years to come ... Mr. Roberts need not oversell the allure of his new regal sources, welcome though they may be. The book is a brilliant feat of storytelling, monumental in scope, yet put together with tenderness for a man who had always believed that he would be Britain’s savior ... Mr. Roberts’s narrative structure follows an unfussy chronological pattern from birth to death, with everything in between. But there’s not a moment’s dullness in this book, with every account of his subject’s many character flaws riveted to a larger context ... For all his erudition, Mr. Roberts is a popular historian, not an academic one, and he writes with the flair of a man who has made a living wielding his words for newspapers and magazines ... The book is an unapologetic tribute to Churchill but not a hagiography ... In response to...morally awkward episodes in Churchill’s life, Mr. Roberts plays the role not of apologist but of explicator ... Alongside this litany of errors, Mr. Roberts counterposes Churchill’s many achievements, not least of which was, if one may put it this way, the salvation of Britain.