The Churchill Factor

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The Churchill Factor
First edition
AuthorBoris Johnson
CountryUnited Kingdom
SubjectWinston Churchill
GenreHistory, biography, political
PublisherHodder & Stoughton
Publication date
23 October 2014

The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History is a book by British politician, journalist and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, in which he details the life of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. It was originally published on 23 October 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton.


Johnson showing US politician Paul Ryan the Churchill War Rooms from World War II

Throughout the book, Johnson details the life of statesman, soldier and writer, and former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. Johnson praises Churchill's efforts as the leader during the Second World War, writing that "he alone saved our civilisation".

He was eccentric, over the top, camp, with his own special trademark clothes – and a thoroughgoing genius... From his very emergence as a young Tory MP he had bashed and satirised his own party... There were too many Tories who thought of him as an unprincipled opportunist... His enemies detected in him a titanic egotism, a desire to find whatever wave or wavelet he could, and surf it long after it had dissolved into spume on the beach... He did behave with a death-defying self-belief, and go farther out on a limb than anyone else might have thought wise.[1]


In the wake of its publication, John Kampfner of The Observer said the book featured "not so subtle" attempts to draw a parallel between Johnson and Churchill.[2]

In The Daily Telegraph, Con Coughlin wrote "While Johnson is clearly an admirer of Churchill, it can be difficult to see what new insights he brings to the study of the statesman. The obvious subtext, of course, is that Johnson is seeking to compare his own reputation as a political maverick with that of Churchill, which poses the question: what would Winston Churchill have made of Boris Johnson?"[3]

Another review said "like its characterisation of some of Churchill's own writings, this book is 'crisp, punchy, full of the kind of wham-bam short sentences that keep the reader moving down the page'."[4]

Sonia Purnell, in The Independent, said "He does have a certain genius – as displayed in his previous The Dream of Rome book – for making history, in that dreaded term, 'accessible'... The book says perhaps less about Churchill than it does about the ambition and self-image of Boris [Johnson]. In history-book terms, it is an opportunity missed. For Johnson's career, it will no doubt work wonders."[5]

In the New Statesman, Richard J. Evans said "The book reads as if it was dictated, not written. All the way through we hear Boris's voice; it's like being cornered in the Drones Club and harangued for hours by Bertie Wooster."[6] The Times also noted the book's "Bertie Woosterish voice", while describing its approach as "never boring, genuinely clever in parts, hopelessly biased in its judgments and sometimes irritating to the point of call-in-the-stretchers exhaustion in its verbal bumble".[7]

Dominic Sandbrook, reviewing the work for the Evening Standard, wrote that The Churchill Factor "bears about as much relation to a history book as an episode of Doctor Who does to a BBC4 documentary".[8]


  1. ^ Hensher, Philip (25 October 2014). "Does Boris Johnson really expect us to think he's Churchill?". The Spectator. Archived from the original on 22 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  2. ^ Kampfner, John (3 November 2014). "The Churchill Factor review – Boris Johnson's flawed but fascinating take on his hero". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 6 February 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  3. ^ Coughlin, Con (23 October 2014). "The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson, review: 'a breathless romp'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 22 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  4. ^ Clarke, Peter (24 October 2014). "'The Churchill Factor', by Boris Johnson". The Financial Times. Archived from the original on 22 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  5. ^ Purnell, Sonia (25 October 2014). "The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History by Boris Johnson, book review: All about our greatest leader (and a bit about Churchill)". The Independent. Archived from the original on 22 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  6. ^ Evans, Richard J. (13 November 2014). ""One man who made history" by another who seems just to make it up: Boris on Churchill". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 31 October 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  7. ^ Boyes, Roger. "The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson" – via
  8. ^ Sandbrook, Dominic (2014-10-23). "Hero Churchill with deep shades of Boris". Evening Standard.