In preparation for a talk by Thomas E. Ricks on July 13, 2018*, hosted by Colloquy Downeast, we offer a colloquy on Ricks’ most recent book, Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom. Ricks’ book is a pairing of these two figures, vastly different in temperament and physique, who both responded powerfully to the dominant threat of authoritarian power within the context of World War II and its aftermath. Ricks explains his choice to explore the lives and words of these two men together:
But in crucial respects they were kindred spirits, in their key overlapping years in the middle of the century, the two men grappled with the same great questions—Hitler and fascism. Stalin and Communism, America and its preemption of Britain. They responded with the same qualities and tools—their intellects, their confidence in their own judgments even when those judgments were rebuked by most of their contemporaries, and their extraordinary skill with words. And both steered by the core principles of liberal democracy: freedom of thought, speech, and association.”
Despite all their differences, their dominant priority, a commitment to human freedom, gave them common cause.
The colloquy will follow the structure of the book, which has 16 chapters and an afterword, organized roughly chronologically. We will focus the conversation in each of four sessions on four chapters. Each participant will be asked to bring “an opening question” to start each session. We will also read essays or speeches by Orwell and Churchill that illustrate Ricks’ comments on each man’s extraordinary skill with words.
* Thomas E. Ricks’ talk with be on Friday, July 13, 2018 at 4:00 pm in the Esther Wood Room at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill. The talk is free and open to the public.
Judy McGeorge lives in Ellsworth and is a member of the Colloquy Downeast Steering Committee. She likes to read and discuss books with other readers.
Session I – June 6, 2018:
Ricks, Churchill & Orwell : Chapters 1-4
“Shooting an Elephant” (1936)
“The Scaffolding of Rhetoric” (1897)
“Hitler and His Choice” (1935 and 1937) from Churchill’s Great Contemporaries, James W. Muller, editor (2012). Published originally in London in 1937.
Session II – June 13, 2018
Ricks, Churchill & Orwell : Chapters 5 – 8
“Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” speech (May 13, 1940)
“We shall fight on the beaches” speech (June 4, 1940)
“This was their finest hour” speech (June 18, 1940)
“Never was so much owed by so many to so few” speech (August 20, 1940).
“ Looking Back on the Spanish War” (1943)
“Why I Write” (1946)
Session III – June 20, 2018
Ricks, Churchill & Orwell : Chapters 9 – 12
“Politics and the English Language” (1946)
Excerpts from Animal Farm : Animal Farm – Wikiquote
Session IV – June 27, 2018
Ricks, Churchill & Orwell : Chapters 13-16
Orwell: “You and the Atomic Bomb” (1945)
Excerpts from 1984 : Nineteen Eighty-Four – Wikiquote
Churchill: Iron Curtain speech (1946)
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