September 16, 2013 - 14:14 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Downton Abbey is painting a fascinating picture of Britain’s society in the early 20th century.
Now the company behind the Emmy-winning drama, London-based Carnival Films, is revisiting the time period with another drama project, this time through the eyes of one of the country’s most famous politicians, Winston Churchill.
The NBCUniversal-owned company has optioned Michael Shelden’s true-life Edwardian saga, Young Titan, to develop into a series first for the UK, and then take it to the U.S. and global markets.
Published in March by Simon & Schuster, the book tells the colorful story of Churchill’s early career, from 1901 to 1915, at the height of England’s imperial glory.
American-born Shelden wrote for the London Daily Telegraph for 15 years, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his biography of George Orwell.
“Just when you think there can be nothing fresh to be said about the long life of Winston Churchill, along comes biographer Michael Shelden’s page-turner about Churchill from age 26 to 40 (1901-1915),” Priscilla S. Taylor sais in her review published at The Washington Times.
“His book begins shortly after Churchill returned to Britain following his extraordinary military adventures in India and Africa, all of which Churchill himself chronicled. The story ends with the Gallipoli disaster; Churchill became the scapegoat (the author implicates old Adm. Jacky Fisher, too, in whom Churchill put too much trust). Churchill resigned as first lord of the admiralty, rejoined the army as a major and headed off to trench warfare in France. “If he had died when he was 40,” says the author, “his story would still be one of the best of the century, in part a riveting drama of ambition, in part a sobering tragedy. Fortunately, there was a second act.”
Mr. Shelden takes a sympathetic view of Churchill’s period as home minister, when he agonized over death-penalty cases but became persuaded that a life term in prison was worse — both from his own brief capture and imprisonment during the Boer War and as the result of a poignant suicide note left by a wrongdoer who was spared the death penalty but subsequently hanged himself.
At age 37, Churchill realized his long-time aspiration to become first lord of the admiralty, where he revised his previous view that Germany would try to avoid a war with Britain. After studying the advancements in German arms — “less pageantry, many more machine guns, and much better use of deadly artillery batteries” — he drafted a forecast of what the first 40 days of the next European war would look like. As Churchill himself would correctly point out after World War I, the author notes, the forecasts were right on target. But by 1915, of course, Churchill was no longer in the Cabinet, having been “largely written off as a man whose best days were behind him.”
Churchill’s life is the gift that keeps on giving, and many readers who assume they’ve read it all will find Mr. Shelden’s lively account a must-add for their groaning shelves,” the review says.