Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: Quiz and Further Reading

Photo of Winston Churchill

I use fact sheets, tips, quizzes, and other unconventional forms—not as gimmicks, but because I’m fascinated by how putting facts in a particular context shapes our understanding.  Putting facts in a particular context—like a true/false quiz—exposes assumptions and paradoxes. Consider:

True/False Churchill’s mother married a man sixteen days older than Churchill.

True/False Churchill’s mother married a man three years younger than Churchill.

Are you surprised that both statements are true?

Churchill the Man:

1. Churchill claimed that one of his ancestors was an American Indian woman. What tribe?

A. Sioux
B. Iroquois
C. Pawnee
D. Ute

2. What period did Churchill describe as the unhappiest of his life?

A. during his schooldays at Harrow
B. after his removal from the Admiralty after the failure of theDardanelles campaign
C. during his isolation in the “wilderness years” of the 1930’s
D. after his loss of the Prime Minister’s office in 1945

3. How many silver inkstands did Churchill receive as wedding gifts?

A. 3
B. 7
C. 11
D. 17

4. How long did it take Churchill to dictate the first volume of The World Crisis, his memoir of World War I?

A. three months
B. one year
C. two years
D. five years

5. One writing project that Churchill wanted to do, but never did, was a biography of:

A. The Duke of Wellington
B. Napoleon
C. Ulysses S. Grant
D. Alexander the Great

6. Churchill was accused of:

A. fathering an illegitimate child
B. accepting a bribe
C. homosexual misconduct
D. all of the above

Answers:

1. Churchill claimed that one of his ancestors was an American Indian woman. What tribe?

Correct answer: b – Iroquois

2. What period did Churchill describe as the unhappiest of his life?

Correct answer: a – during his schooldays at Harrow

3. How many silver inkstands did Churchill receive as wedding gifts?

Correct answer: d – 17

4. How long did it take Churchill to dictate the first volume of The World Crisis, his memoir of World War I?

Correct answer: a – three months

5. One writing project that Churchill wanted to do, but never did, was a biography of:

Correct answer: b – Napoleon

6. Churchill was accused of:

Correct answer: d – all of the above

Churchill the Statesman:

1. Which cabinet post was not held by Churchill between 1907 and 1940:

A. Chancellor of the Exchequer
B. Home Secretary
C. Foreign Secretary
D. First Lord of the Admiralty
E. Colonial Secretary
F. Minister of Munitions
G. President of the Board of Trade
H. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

2. As Home Secretary, Churchill was responsible for signing death sentences. Of the 43 cases which came before him, for how many did he recommend clemency?

A. 0
B. 3
C. 21
D. 43

3. Before calling out to Churchill, “You brute, why don’t you treat British women properly?” as she was led away by police, a suffragette tried to hit Churchill in the face with a:

A. umbrella
B. glass of water
C. dog whip
D. pamphlet

4. In 1939, Eleanor Roosevelt described Churchill as

A. heroic
B. reactionary
C. indomitable
D. tragic

5. Churchill maintained that he and Hitler had only one thing in common:

A. “an instinct for paint”
B. “a refusal to surrender”
C. “a horror of whistling”
D. “an engrossment in history”

6. When Churchill visited Roosevelt after the attack of Pearl Harbor, the White House became a battle headquarters. Maps of the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war were marked to show the locations of enemy and Allied forces. The location of the “Big Three” Allied leaders was indicated by special pins in the shape of:

A. a British flag for Churchill; an American flag for Roosevelt; a Soviet flagfor Stalin;
B. a cigar; a cigarette-holder; a briar pipe;
C. an eagle; a unicorn; a bear;
D. none of the above.

7. Churchill lived until 1965, but three leaders of the Second World War – Roosevelt, Hitler, and Mussolini – died within how many weeks of each other in 1945?

A. three weeks
B. seven weeks
C. eleven weeks
D. eighteen weeks

8. Many of Churchill’s phrases were widely adopted. Which of these popular phrases was not popularized by Churchill?

A. “safety net”
B. “summit meeting”
C. “iron curtain”
D. “first among equals”
E. “the end of the beginning”
F. “business as usual”
G. “special relationship”

9. The code name for the preparations for a state funeral that took place before Churchill’s death” was:

A. “Last Lion”
B. “Cigar”
C. “Hope Not”
D. “Colonel Warden”

10. Which of the famous Churchill stories is apocryphal?

A. When Churchill returned in 1939 as First Lord of the Admiralty, a messageflashed out to all ships: “Winston is back.”
B. When reports indicated that Germany was preparing to bomb Coventry, Churchill refused to jeopardize Intelligence sources by sending aid.
C. When Churchill spent the Christmas of 1941 at the White House, Roosevelt entered his bedroom and surprised him just out of a bath – wet, pink, and naked. Churchill exclaimed, “Mr. President, I have nothing to conceal from you!”
D. all of the above.

Answers:

1. Which cabinet post was not held by Churchill between 1907 and 1940:

Correct answer: c – Foreign Secretary

2. As Home Secretary, Churchill was responsible for signing death sentences. Of the 43 cases which came before him, for how many did he recommend clemency?

Correct answer: c – 21

3. Before calling out to Churchill, “You brute, why don’t you treat British women properly?” as she was led away by police, a suffragette tried to hit Churchill in the face with a:

Correct answer: c – dog whip

4. In 1939, Eleanor Roosevelt described Churchill as

Correct answer: b – reactionary

5. Churchill maintained that he and Hitler had only one thing in common:

Correct answer: c – “a horror of whistling”

6. When Churchill visited Roosevelt after the attack of Pearl Harbor, the White House became a battle headquarters. Maps of the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war were marked to show the locations of enemy and Allied forces. The location of the “Big Three” Allied leaders was indicated by special pins in the shape of:

Correct answer: b – a cigar; a cigarette-holder; a briar pipe;

7. Churchill lived until 1965, but three leaders of the Second World War – Roosevelt, Hitler, and Mussolini – died within how many weeks of each other in 1945?

Correct answer: a – three weeks

8. Many of Churchill’s phrases were widely adopted. Which of these popular phrases was not popularized by Churchill?

Correct answer: d – “first among equals”

9. The code name for the preparations for a state funeral that took place before Churchill’s death” was:

Correct answer: c – “Hope Not”

10. Which of the famous Churchill stories is apocryphal?

Correct answer: d – all of the above.

Further Reading:

  1. My Early Life, Winston Churchill – a fascinating, charming memoir of Churchill’s early life.
  2. Their Finest Hour, Winston Churchill – the volume of Churchill’s Second World War history that describes Britain’s “finest hour,” May-December 1940.
  3. Churchill: A Life, Martin Gilbert – the best single-volume history of Churchill’s life, by Churchill’s most authoritative biographer.
  4. Mr. Churchill in 1940, Isaiah Berlin – an extraordinary meditation on Churchill’s life and significance. It is also included in the Berlin essay collection, Personal Impressions.
  5. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, William Manchester – an exciting, accessible history of Churchill’s life until 1940. Unfortunately, because of ill health, Manchester is unlikely to finish his account.
  6. Churchill Revised: A Critical Assessment, A.J.P Taylor, Robert Rhodes James, J.H. Plumb, Basil Liddell Hart, and Anthony Storr – penetrating essays by some of the outstanding commentators on Churchill and his time.
  7. Five Days in London: May 1940, John Lukacs – a short history that focuses on one of the most critical periods of the war and of Churchill’s life.
  8. Clementine Churchill: The Biography of a Marriage, Mary Soames – an account of Clementine and Winston by their daughter Mary.

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