The Collegian
Wednesday, February 01, 2023

British author claims Churchill lacked strategic knowledge

Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill led Great Britain through World War II, but he lacked a thorough understanding of military strategy, a British scholar and University of Richmond professor said.

Christopher Catherwood discussed his second book on Churchill, "Winston Churchill the Flawed Genius of World War II," in Room 305 of the Tyler Haynes Commons at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Catherwood began his speech by describing Churchill's genius and then pointed out his flaws. When France fell in June 1940 because of military incompetence and bad luck, Catherwood said, Britain was deeply alone except for the help of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Churchill had the bravery and oratorical skills to keep Britain going, Catherwood said.

Churchill was flawed because he didn't understand strategy, Catherwood said. The crowd laughed when Catherwood described himself as the first British author to write a pro-American book.

Catherwood pointed out that Americans put Europe first and worried about Japan second when they entered World War II. Churchill knew that without America, Britain was sunk, Catherwood said.

Catherwood said the war could have ended earlier, but Churchill's strategy often dragged events on longer and caused other issues. For example, Churchill decided to help Greece during the war and pulled British troops out of North Africa. If the British had not helped the Greeks, Germans would not have invaded North Africa, Catherwood said.

The lecture was sponsored by the International Studies program and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Catherwood is a British author who currently teaches at Cambridge University in England and holds degrees from Oxford University, Cambridge University and the University of East Anglia.

During the summer, Catherwood teaches history at Richmond in the School of Continuing Studies.

"Richmond is my very favorite American university," Catherwood said.

Catherwood has written several books on religion, war and terrorism and was elected to be a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, which encourages the study of British and world history.

The audience comprised many members of the Osher Institute and the crowd listened intently to Catherwood's discussion of Churchill while C-Span filmed the lecture.

Catherwood said if the crowds' questions weren't answered in this book, they would probably be answered in his other book. Following Catherwood's speech, the crowd was invited to ask questions. After all questions were answered, a reception and book signing were held.

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Contact reporter Ryan Clark at ryan.clark@richmond.edu

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