by Kit Munro
I have not been able to figure out why, but oddly, Winston Churchill’s history of The Second World War seems to go really well with chainsawing. I am working my way through Book Two at the moment; Alone. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to lay bricks, because this four volume history would probably go better with that. Maybe I should learn.
Using a chainsaw is fairly dangerous and I DO NOT recommend listening to an audiobook while sawing wood, even though I often do. A chainsaw is very, very unforgiving. There are numerous rules for safe chainsaw use. A few of these rules, for instance are:
— avoid using the chainsaw above your head
— always be ready for the chainsaw to kick back
— never chainsaw with the tip of the bar
— always be aware of which way the log could roll as its weight changes.
–whenever possible, try to hold the chainsaw a little off to one side rather than directly in front of you.
Chainsaw use, for me, seems to fall into three categories; pruning branches off trees, dropping or felling trees and sawing up wood into usable chunks. It is only this last category that I feel competent enough to be able to work at while I listen to an audiobook. The others require too much thought for the sake of safety. The last can be a fairly mechanical task. So, as a rule, I only chainsaw wood to an audiobook while sawing up a log in to rounds.
Academic historians have been scathing of Winston Churchill’s The Second World War. There are obvious limitations with a history of a war written by a man who played a major part in that very war. The likelihood of bias, of a focus on his corner and of political considerations determining what is –or is not– written about, and how it is written about are all hazards the writer would have had to deal with and consequently so too us readers. Yet histories have no doubt been prone to suffer from these problems since Herodutus, whether or not the historian actually took part in the subject of the History.
With these caveats in mind, reading Churchill’s account of the Second World War is not only rewarding, it is compelling. Treat it for what it is, a public record of a man who held high office as one of the major protagonists in this world war. Do not think of it as The History of the Second World War. Instead think of it as A History of the Second World War and a useful function becomes much more apparent.
If a wide knowledge of the Second World War is your aim Churchill is not only useful he is necessary. His descriptions of conferences between the big powers, of the personalities involved, of how the office of the Prime Minister of Britain operated in War, of how operations were conducted as a result of compromise, argument or even disagreement between the Big Three are a crucial component of understanding the Second World War.
The biggest danger of reading Churchill’s History of the Second World War is the same as using a chainsaw; that is not being aware of the dangers.
I found my copy of The Second World War: Alone by Winston Churchill here. If anyone knows of another place this audiobook is available please let me know in the comments below.