Christopher Ave | St. Louis Post-Dispatch | February 22, 2014

In 2003, William Manchester, one of the 20th century’s leading biographers, found himself in a terrible quandary.

Manchester had written the first two acclaimed volumes of “The Last Lion,” a planned three-part biography of Winston Churchill. His towering if florid prose inspired thousands of readers and stirred widespread anticipation for the final installment. That third volume was to begin just as Churchill was named prime minister of Great Britain, the last European power to stand against the relentless scourge of Nazi Germany.

But Manchester was struck with a colossal case of writer’s block, followed by strokes and other ailments. He was unable to write, and he rejected his publisher’s requests to work with a historian as a co-author. “I don’t want a historian,” he would tell friends. “If I wanted anyone — and I do not — I’d want a writer.”

Enter journalist Paul Reid.

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“Leave the past to history especially as I propose to write that history myself.”

Winston S. Churchill