Churchill, Boris Johnson, and Brexit

Professor Bill Schwartz explains the relationship between Churchill worship, Brexit, and Boris Johnson’s rise to the office of Prime Minister. This crucial episode also explains how “wartime nostalgia continues to work in conjunction with the fashioning of new instalments of the Churchill myths, each acting upon the other,” as Professor Schwartz writes in the new book, “The Churchill Myths” (available on the Buzzkill Bookshelf). Episode # 377. Our listeners get a free trial at The Great Courses Plus! Click here to go to !!

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Steven Fielding, Bill Schwarz, and Richard Toye, The Churchill Myths

This is not a book about Winston Churchill. It is not principally about his politics, nor his rhetorical imagination, nor even about the man himself. Instead, it addresses the varied afterlives of the man and the persistent, deeply located compulsion to bring him back from the dead, capturing and explaining the significance of the various Churchill myths to Britain’s history and current politics.

The authors look at Churchill’s portrayal in social memory. They demonstrate the ways in which politicians have often used the idea of Churchill as a means of self-validation – using him to show themselves as tough and honest players. They show the man dramatized in film and television – an onscreen persona that is often the product of a gratuitous mixing of fact and fantasy, one deliberately shaped to meet the preferences of the presumed audience. They discuss his legacy in light of the Brexit debate – showing how public figures on both sides of the Leave/Remain debate were able to use elements of Churchill’s words and character to argue for their own point-of-view.


Posted in

Leave a Comment