Mirrors of Greatness

Churchill and the Leaders Who Shaped Him


By David Reynolds

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A "fresh, fast-paced, and bracing" (Wall Street Journal) new biography of Winston Churchill, revealing how his relationships with the other great figures of his age shaped his own triumphs and failures as a leader

Winston Churchill remains one of the most revered figures of the twentieth century, his name a byword for courageous leadership. But the Churchill we know today is a mixture of history and myth, authored by the man himself. In Mirrors of Greatness, prizewinning historian David Reynolds reevaluates Churchill’s life by viewing it through the eyes of his allies and adversaries, even his own family, revealing Churchill’s lifelong struggle to overcome his political failures and his evolving grasp of what “greatness” truly entailed.  
Through his dealings with Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain, we follow Churchill’s triumphant campaign against Nazi Germany. But we also see a Churchill whose misjudgments of allies and rivals like Roosevelt, Stalin, Gandhi, and Clement Attlee blinded him to the British Empire’s waning dominance on the world stage and to the rising popularity of a postimperial, socialist vision of Great Britain at home.  
Magisterial and incisive, Mirrors of Greatness affords Churchill his due as a figure of world-historical importance and deepens our understanding of his legend by uncovering the ways his greatest contemporaries helped make him the man he was, for good and for ill.
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  • “A fresh, fast-paced and bracing look at Churchill...Mr. Reynolds provides a freshly penetrating look into the many qualities of Churchill’s extraordinary mind. The monument of the man now breathes in full.”
    Wall Street Journal
  • “[Reynolds] succeeds in spades with a book that is both readable and informative…Ultimately, Mirrors of Greatness illuminates why there is such an enduring fascination with Churchill.”
    Washington Examiner
  • “Reynolds has skillfully and cleverly constructed a biography of Churchill reflected in the lives of his contemporaries…a revealing and complicated portrait.”
    New York Journal of Books
  • “By looking at those who influenced Churchill, Reynolds sheds some light on his achievements and failures.”
  • “He’s one of the iconic leaders of the modern world. Who inspired Churchill as he rose to the pinnacle of power? And how did he himself seek to mold how history would view him? No one is better placed to address these deceptively simple questions than David Reynolds, and he succeeds splendidly in this magnificent book. A fresh and captivating study of the nature and crux of political leadership.”
    Fredrik Logevall, author of JFK
  • “Winston Churchill was unique—but that does not mean that he was alone. David Reynolds’ insightful work illuminates much about those towering figures who shaped not only the politics of the first half of the twentieth century, but also helped form the man who was, in the end, the greatest of them all.”
    Eliot A. Cohen, author of The Hollow Crown
  • “A fresh take on the familiar subject of Churchill’s greatness, reading his many triumphs and often spectacular failures through the lens of his relationships with other leaders of his time. What emerges is an unvarnished and uncensored Churchill, whose British pride was not without prejudice, whose unparalleled vision and eloquence did not preclude callous, crude, and disparaging remarks about rivals which may take today’s readers aback. This is an honest and unsparing appraisal of one of the leading figures of modern history.”
    Sean McMeekin, author of Stalin’s War
  • “A highly imaginative and thought-provoking way of exploring the personality of a man who, like him or loathe him, left an indelible mark on our age.”
    Adam Zamoyski, author of Napoleon
  • “David Reynolds has long been the dean of Churchill studies, constantly setting and resetting the agenda on Britain’s wartime prime minister. Just when we wondered if there was much left for anyone to say about this titanic but endlessly discussed figure, Reynolds pulls another rabbit out of his hat with a magisterial book on Churchill and his contemporaries. It’s a Churchill biography with a twist—an incisive portrait of a generation as well as the man. The result is an elegant feat of scholarship, imagination, and storytelling from this most brilliant of historians.”
    Richard Aldous, author of The Dillon Era

On Sale
Jan 23, 2024
Page Count
464 pages
Basic Books

David Reynolds

About the Author

David Reynolds is emeritus professor of international history at Christ’s College, Cambridge. A fellow of the British Academy, he is the author of thirteen books, including In Command of History, which won the Wolfson Prize, Summits, Island Stories, and America, Empire of Liberty. He lives in Cambridge, England.

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