Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Death of a President (1967)
- For all in whose hearts he still lives- a watchman of honor who never sleeps.
- Finally, she broke her silence and spelled it out to Dr. Burkley. Kneeling, John Kennedy's personal physician indicated her ghastly skirt with a trembling hand. "Another dress?", he suggested diffidently.
"No", she whispered fiercely, "Let them see the horror."
- Back and forth the fantastic tableaux would spin, past his cruel plebe hazing, the self-discovery at the West Texas Military Academy, the patriarchal Judge MacArthur, all beard and cigar smoke, presiding over dynastic feats at Washington's 1201 N Street; the chimes of the drawing-room clock there telling off the quarters; the ceremonial changing of the guard at Leavenworth; his father's tales of Sherman's dauntless Boys in Blue; his mother's imperious commands to fight and fight and never lower his blade short of victory; the clean crack of Krag rifles and the warm prickling of desert sand as he played with his brother outside the fort stockade; the rumbling of the sunset gun and Pinky's face tilting downward, her lambent smile gilding the child's upturned features while he clutched at her cascading skirts; the yellow notes of the bugles as he stirred in his cradle; the chant of sergeants hawking cadence on the parade ground outside; and, snapping proudly in the overarching sky above him, the flag, and the flag, and the flag.
- p. 709
- Then out spake brave Horatius,
- The Captain of the Gate:
- "To every man upon this earth
- Death cometh soon or late.
- And how can man die better
- Than facing fearful odds,
- For the ashes of his fathers,
- And the temples of his gods?"
- Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lays of Ancient Rome, memorized by Churchill at age thirteen
- He had come to power because he had seen through Hitler from the very beginning- but not, ironically, because his inner light, the source of that insight, was understood by Englishmen. Churchill's star was invisible to the public and even to most of his peers. But a few saw it. One of them wrote afterward that although Winston knew the world was complex and in constant flux, to him "the great things, races, and peoples, and morality were eternal." Isaiah Berlin, the Oxford philosopher, later observed that the Churchill of 1940 was neither "a sensitive lens, which absorbs and concentrates and reflects... the sentiments of others," nor a politician who played "on public opinion like an instrument." Instead Berlin saw him as a leader who imposed his "imagination and his will upon his countrymen," idealizing them "with such intensity that in the end they approached his ideal and began to see themselves as he saw them." In doing so he "transformed cowards into brave men, and so fulfilled the purpose of shining armour."
- p. 687
- Because their possessions were great, the appeasers had much to lose should the Red flag fly over Westminster. That was why they had felt threatened by the hunger riots of 1932. It was also the driving force behind their exorbitant fear and distrust of the new Russia. They had seen a strong Germany as a buffer against Bolshevism, had thought their security would be strengthened if they sidled up to the fierce, virile Third Reich. Nazi coarseness, anti-Semitism, the Reich's darker underside, were rationalized; time, they assured one another, would blur the jagged edges of Nazi Germany. So, with their eyes open, they sought accommodation with a criminal regime, turned a blind eye to its iniquities, ignored its frequent resort to murder and torture, submitted to extortion, humiliation, and abuse until, having sold out all who had sought to stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain and keep the bridge against the new barbarism, they led England herself into the cold damp shadow of the gallows, friendless save for the demoralized republic across the Channel. Their end came when the House of Commons, in a revolt of conscience, wrenched power from them and summoned to the colors the one man who had foretold that all had passed, who had tried, year after year, alone and mocked, to prevent the war by urging the only policy which would have done the job. And now, in the desperate spring of 1940, with the reins of power at last now firm in his grasp, he resolved to lead Britain and her fading empire in one last great struggle worthy of all they had been and meant, to arm the nation, not only with weapons but also with the mace of honor, creating in every English breast a soul beneath the ribs of death.
- p. 688-689
- Encyclopedic article on William Manchester at Wikipedia