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A revelatory portrait showing how the famed British statesman created a network of American colleagues and friends who helped push our foreign policy in Britain’s favor during World War II
Winston Churchill was the consummate networker. Using newly discovered documents and archives, Churchill’s American Network reveals how the famed British politician found a network of American men and women who would push American foreign policy in Britain’s direction during World War II—while at the same time producing lucrative speaking fees to support his lavish lifestyle.
Stelzer has gathered contemporary local newspaper reports of Churchill’s lecture tours in many American cities, as well as interactions with leaders of local American communities—what he said in public, what he said at private meetings, how he comported himself. Readers observe Churchill as he is escorted by an armed Scotland Yard detective, aided by local police when Indian nationalists threaten to assassinate him, while he travels in deluxe private rail cars provided by wealthy members of his network; and as he recovers from a near-death automobile crash—with the help of liquor prescribed by a friendly doctor with no use for Prohibition.
The links in Churchill’s network include some of fascinating American figures: the millionaire financier Bernard Baruch; the railroad magnate, Averell Harriman, who became an FDR-Churchill go-between; media moguls William Randolph Hearst (and wife and mistress); Robert R. McCormick—who attacked Churchill’s policies but enjoyed his company—and Charles Luce, who made him TIME’s Man of the Year and later Man of the Century; and bit players such as Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin, and David Niven.
It is no accident that Churchill was able to put these links together into an important network that served to his, and Britain’s, advantage. He worked at it relentlessly, remaining in close contact with his American friends by letter, signed copies of his many books, and by attending to their needs when they were in Britain. Many of these colleagues were invited to dinners at Chartwell and, later, Downing Street. Perhaps most importantly, Churchill’s network of American allies had Franklin Roosevelt’s ear while the president was deciding how to overcome opposition in congress to helping Britain take on the threat from Germany.
A freelance journalist and a Research Associate at the Hudson Institution, Cita Stelzer previously worked for John Lindsay, Mayor of New York, and Governor Hugh Carey. She is currently a Reader at Churchill College, Cambridge, and a member of the Board of the Churchill Centre and Trustee of Wigmore Hall.
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"Churchill embraced his dual heritage, and his long and circuitous path to 10 Downing Street was smoothed by supportive Americans seduced by his intellect and irrepressible energy. As Cita Stelzer explains in Churchill’s American Network, he would rely on this support throughout his life. Ms. Stelzer relies on 'hundreds of press reports' to produce a series of colorful itineraries."
The Wall Street Journal
"Stelzer brings to life a cast of characters Churchill brought into his network, among them media giant William Randolph Hearst, actor and director Charlie Chaplin, journalist Edward R. Murrow, steel magnate Charles M. Schwab, and socialite and suffragist Daisy Harriman. Stelzer’s scholarship on Churchill has been highly praised: 2019’s Working With Winston explores the world of Churchill’s secretaries, and 2013’s Dinner With Churchill focuses on the prime minister’s dinner table diplomacy. Churchill’s American Network is another enlightening look at the statesman, one with an even broader scope. Fascinating." BookPage
“[A] lively account. Stelzer reminds readers that her subject was half American. As befitted his stature, he met the crème de la crème, including the president, Hollywood superstars, and wealthy industrialists, most of whom succumbed to his charms, often loaning him their mansions and private railroad carriages. A cheerful chronicle of Churchill’s excursions in America.”
"A wonderful book that shines a bright light on fascinating years of Churchill’s life and thus makes a valuable addition to Churchill scholarship. Churchill’s American Network provides an engrossing account of an exceptional individual on tours across America before WWII, lecturing and gaining a deeper understanding of the nation and its people, and developing relationships that would prove of increasing importance when Hitler and the Nazis appeared on the world stage. A very illuminating and enjoyable book."
General David Petraeus, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Director of the CIA; co-author with Andrew Roberts of Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to Ukraine
"Cita Stelzer has brilliantly hit upon the key fact about Winston Churchill’s lifelong and intimate relationship with the United States. Although it was familial, strategic and political, it was overwhelmingly built on personal friendships, for which he had a preternatural gift. This superb book explores that phenomenon better than any other on the subject.”
Andrew Roberts, New York Times bestselling author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny
Praise for Cita Stelzer’s Working with Winston:
"Working with Winston is a wonderful tour behind the scenes of history and its vignettes portray a very human and attractive man." The Times (London)
"Cita Stelzer has found an intimate way to reveal the secrets of this great man's life with exceptional skill and flair, giving voice to the silent army that helped him to lead the nation.” Sarah Baxter, Deputy Editor of The Sunday Times (London)
"A gripping read that tells the story of the extraordinary women, and one man, who were Churchill's secretaries. A brilliantly original and at times deeply touching account of Winston in all his multiple moods, colors, and breath-taking accomplishment.” Julia Boyd, author of Travelers in the Third Reich