Throughout his early career, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill took a leading part in laying the foundations of the welfare state in Britain, in preparing the Royal Navy for World War I, and in settling the political boundaries in the Middle East after the war.
A good soldier, and a consummate statesman, he was not, however, so good as a mere party politician. By late 1920, without a clear vision or meaningful mission to ignite interest, Churchill found himself politically marooned.
Profoundly historically minded however, he had prophetic foresight. While his career faded, he saw the rise of Adolph Hitler's Germany and clearly understood its deeper and darker implications.
Churchill was the first to sound the alarm. For the next 10 years, through his many writings and speeches, he cited the necessity to bring together a "Grand Alliance" against Hitler and other growing aggressor powers before it was too late. Largely dismissed as an irrelevant pessimist, the whole of Europe pursued appeasement as Hitler expanded his influence and power. Without state or even popular endorsement, all Churchill could do was sit by the sidelines and watch appeasement go on to the bitter end.
War finally came in 1939 and, as foretold by Churchill, waves of German military power overwhelmed Poland in September, and in the spring of 1940, seized northwestern Europe and France as well.
On May 10, 1940, in the midst of this cascade of calamity and with Hitler's armies literally standing at Britain's doorstep, Churchill was voted in as Prime Minister. At this point his life, his career became one with his country's fight for survival.
He told the House of Commons: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat: You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory."