Monday, March 22, 2010

Great Books and First Paragraphs

Paul Johnson’s slim volume on Winston Churchill combines two of my favorite things about reading:  Paul Johnson and Winston Churchill.

You can tell a lot about a book by its first paragraph.  Johnson’s is great:

“Of all the towering figures of the twentieth century, both good and evil, Winston Churchill was the most valuable to humanity, and also the most likable.  It is a joy to write his life, and to read about it.  None holds more lessons, especially for youth:  How to use a difficult childhood.  How to seize eagerly all opportunities, physical, moral, and intellectual.  How to dare greatly, to reinforce success, and to put the inevitable failures behind you.  And how, while pursuing vaulting ambition with energy and relish, to cultivate also friendship, generosity, compassion, and decency.”

The book goes on like that for about 150 instructive and inspiring pages.  I recommend it highly.   


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Luke Milner said...

This is the one?