How Winston Churchill Changed the World

What do we owe to Winston Churchill? Discover the answers in these 24 lectures by a Churchill biographer and award-winning professor.
How Winston Churchill Changed the World is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 114.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Most Indispensable Man of the Modern Age I thoroughly enjoyed the course, its premise and delivery. The professor certainly confirmed for me that Churchill saved the World from itself. Regardless of all his faults he was truly a great man. Without him we would all be sieg heiling and goose stepping.
Date published: 2021-04-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Course But Maybe Too Subjective I hope this review doesn't come off as overly negative: I thought this was a great course full of fascinating lectures with inside information and perspective I hadn't encountered in other courses or discussions of Churchill or World War II. I also think the Professor’s great way with words and ability to tell a story make for very captivating listening: well worth one's time. What pauses me slightly is his the tendency to interject only his point of view which takes areas of gray and shapes them in to absolutes leaving you questioning if everything you are hearing is 100% objective truth. Are we hearing inside information not widely known or hyperbole? Professor Shelden has some strong feelings and opinions and isn’t shy to craft his entire lectures around them: Neville Chamberlain was weak and foolish, Stalin was an untrustworthy murderer, American isolationists were cowards, the Labor Party were out of touch and too frugal, and Churchill was a god-like figure who was the only one who recognized the early Nazi threat and who may have made mistakes but they could be explained away or blamed on others. While most will agree with his characterizations, we know there are always nuisances and alternate views that can be debated. But there are no two sides of the story presented here or the scholarly tact of providing simple facts, leaving it up to the listener to make their own conclusions. Professor Shelden has a narrative and story and everything he has to say supports them. While I appreciate a good storyteller that really brings historical events to life, there were many times I questioned if what I was hearing was truly historical fact or if I was listening to legends around a campfire (the old adage of “well if it wasn’t true then it should have been”). All of the stories were told in a way where the finish always made Churchill seem all-knowing or always the brave or moralistic one when others were not. After hearing so many of these you have to begin contemplating that either what you are hearing cannot be 100% objective reality or that Churchill was truly one of the most prescient men to ever walk the planet and a god among men. Some other ruminations: 1- The earlier lectures (especially 2-4, 6-9) weren’t bad but weren’t as engaging as the World War II build-up and combat ones (10-19) but then again that would be expected to be the highlight of a course so I shouldn't be surprising anyone here 2- There was no audio of Churchill’s own voice or of him delivering parts of his iconic speeches leaving the listener to rely on the professor’s delivery and trust his take in order to piece together what parts were most emphasized by Churchill himself in the moment 3- There is little content on Churchill’s involvement/thoughts on the African and Italian fronts of World War II 4- The professor’s relation of Churchill’s interactions with Roosevelt and Stalin were probably the top listens (Lectures 16 and 17) In conclusion I am glad to have this course in my collection: the biggest compliment I can give is that time flew by while listening to it and I had a hard time refraining from moving from one lecture to the next. This is the measure of any great course. I appreciate a great storyteller as much as anyone and Professor Shelden is a joy to listen to. Just be warned that there is no middle ground here: Churchill is almost worshipped and everyone else he interacts with aren't close to his peer. I think there may be a lot of truth there but when you don't get opposing points of view, you have now veered into one man's story vs. studying history.
Date published: 2021-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Journey! This series helped me to "see" past the myth to the character of the man - the indispensable man.
Date published: 2021-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional Great insight into Churchill and his contributions to winning WW II, and how and why the electorate was quick to abandon him once the war was over. No study of Churchill could be complete without introducing Neville Chamberlain. the Labor Party and their weak leadership both in good times and bad. Professor Shelden does a great job in linking each stage of Churchill's' life into a smooth story.
Date published: 2021-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful lecture series Bought this to watch after finishing The Splendor and the Vile, to fill in the gaps on Churchill. I am so pleased with this series. The speaker is excellent, the content is full of anecdotes and history. We just finished the 3rd lecture, and looking forward to each of the coming ones.
Date published: 2020-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fine biography This video series offers an extensive and well-researched biography of Winston Churchill. I wished that the biography had had more Churchill thoughts (more than it already had) about the situations he faced at each moment of his life, like letters and speeches to understand how his mind worked and saw things, but overall great biography!.
Date published: 2020-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good way to learn a lot about an imporatant figure The course brings home many glimpses of Churchill, including a great deal about his position in British government over decades as he participated in Parliament, most notably during the WW2 years. I found the lectures to be interesting and informative even though having read much about it all before. The course is definitely worth the money and the time.
Date published: 2020-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb History from a Professor of English This is a superb course, presented, oddly, by a Professor of English. Dr. Michael Sheldon of Indiana State University, provides a superb introduction to Sir Winston Churchill’s life and his impact on history. Dr. Shelden’s understanding of both Sir Winston and 20th century history and his superb delivery make this course not only very informative but also very engaging and entertaining. I recommend this course without reservation of any kind.
Date published: 2020-10-21
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Winston Churchill didn't just live history-he made it. In How Winston Churchill Changed the World, join Churchill-biographer Professor Michael Shelden for a multifaceted, 24-lecture exploration of the statesman's life, accomplishments, complexities, and failures. It's an unforgettable journey through the 20th century in the footsteps of the man who helped humanity prevail during violent, dangerous times.


Michael Shelden
Michael Shelden

Despite the debates that still cast parts of his career in doubt, Churchill's most enduring legacy is anchored in something that lies outside of history, something deeply personal and timeless. It is his individual stance as a champion of freedom when the world was at a tipping point between darkness and light, in which his voice and courage helped shift the balance towards the light.


Indiana State University

Michael Shelden is a Professor of English at Indiana State University, where he has won the top award for excellence in scholarship, the Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Research/Creativity Award, three times. He earned his Ph.D. in English from Indiana University. Professor Shelden is the author of six biographies, including Orwell: The Authorized Biography, which was a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Professor Shelden is also the author of Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill, which has been translated into Russian, Chinese, and Portuguese. His book Mark Twain: Man in White was a New York Times best seller, was chosen as one of the best books of 2010 by the Library Journal, and was named one of the best nonfiction books of 2010 by the Christian Science Monitor. In a special issue on the 240th anniversary of American independence, TIME® Magazine praised Professor Shelden’s biography of Herman Melville, Melville in Love, as one of “240 Reasons to Celebrate America.” American Literary Scholarship, the annual journal published by Duke University Press, has said, “Shelden possesses that rare gift of the truly talented biographer: He can sketch scenes so vividly that a reader seems to mingle with the subjects in their long-ago conversations.”

For 12 years, Professor Shelden was a featured writer for The Daily Telegraph in London. His many scholarly articles and reviews have included publications in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare Quarterly, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Victorian Studies, and the Journal of British Studies.

By This Professor

How Winston Churchill Changed the World


Churchill and the Muse of History

01: Churchill and the Muse of History

First, establish a strong sense of how Winston Churchill looked at the world, and what he brought to politics that made him stand out from the start of his career. Then, learn how the connecting thread of history helped inspire Churchill to deliver his iconic “Finest Hour” speech.

32 min
Young Churchill

02: Young Churchill

Survey the remarkable accomplishments of Winston Churchill’s life before he turned thirty. Follow the future statesman as he fights on the frontier of India, takes part in the British army’s last great cavalry charge, survives capture in South Africa’s Boer War, and wins a seat in Parliament.

29 min
Churchill, the Edwardian Titan

03: Churchill, the Edwardian Titan

Few British politicians have risen as far—and as fast—as Winston Churchill did during the first decade of his parliamentary career. Examine Churchill’s meteoric ascent, including his conflicts with political veterans Arthur Balfour and Joseph Chamberlain, his time as a liberal statesman, and his relationship with Violet Asquith.

29 min
Churchill’s Rise to the Admiralty

04: Churchill’s Rise to the Admiralty

Focus on Churchill’s career as First Lord of the Admiralty and his efforts to make sure the British navy could win battles in the North Sea. Central to this were technological developments (including a massive new gun for ships) and his knowledge of the newest twist in naval warfare: aviation.

27 min
Churchill and Failure in World War I

05: Churchill and Failure in World War I

With the military disaster in Gallipoli and the Dardanelles during World War I, Churchill pushed his luck too far. Discover what led to this major failure and his subsequent resignation from government, as well as how he overcame this fall from grace by joining the fight on the Western Front.

28 min
Churchill in War and Peace

06: Churchill in War and Peace

Gain insights into Churchill’s return to government in 1917 as Minister of Munitions and, after the end of World War I, as War Secretary. Then, examine Churchill’s fraught relationship with Prime Minister Lloyd George and the publication of his grand, four-volume history of the war years: The World Crisis.

29 min
Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer

07: Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Churchill’s primary job was to maintain Britain’s economic prosperity. Here, learn how his efforts to cut wasteful spending, implement modest tax cuts, and return to the Gold Standard hurt the British economy in a way that would undermine most of his good work elsewhere.

30 min
The Rise of Tyranny in the 1930s

08: The Rise of Tyranny in the 1930s

Take a step back to investigate just how tangled the relationship between Britain and Germany was becoming in the 1930s. Professor Shelden reveals how Churchill led an uphill battle to persuade his country about the dangers of Hitler and the Nazis—even as his fellow countrymen turned against him.

30 min
Churchill as Author and Historian

09: Churchill as Author and Historian

During the 1930s, Churchill kept his name and fame alive through his books and essays. In this lecture, explore some of his greatest works from the period, including Great Contemporaries (a dazzling study of major leaders of the day) and Marlborough: His Life and Times (a multi-volume biography of a famous ancestor).

29 min
The Gathering Storm in Nazi Germany

10: The Gathering Storm in Nazi Germany

As international danger loomed on the horizon, Churchill knew the Royal Air Force would be the key to Britain’s future. Learn how Churchill set in motion a chain of events that led to the legendary (and revolutionary) Spitfire, then examine how Churchill tried to save King Edward’s monarchy from scandal.

30 min
Churchill in the Age of Appeasement

11: Churchill in the Age of Appeasement

Explore just how pitifully disunited and disorganized the British government was as it stood on the verge of war with Hitler. How did the “age of appeasement” begin? What made Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain think he could do business with Hitler? How did Churchill continue to prepare for war?

30 min
The Road to Dunkirk

12: The Road to Dunkirk

On May 8, 1940, a speech by David Lloyd George validating Churchill’s premonitions of war with Germany led to Chamberlain’s defeat—and Churchill’s succession to the role of prime minister. But, as you’ll learn, within a month of taking office Churchill faced one of his most serious challenges at Dunkirk.

29 min
Churchill in Power

13: Churchill in Power

When Churchill took power over the government, he knew he’d not only have to fight the Germans but also the simmering resentments within the Conservative Party. Take a closer look at cabinet battles and the famous speech to the House of Commons after the Dunkirk “miracle” that effectively crushed Churchill’s defeatists.

32 min
Surviving the Nazi Blitz

14: Surviving the Nazi Blitz

Explore how Churchill responded to the terror of the Blitz and how his long history of experience with aviation had a major impact on the war in the air. Then, conclude with a look at the wisdom of a particular—and overlooked—sentence from his famous speech of June 18, 1940.

29 min
Turning the Tide against Hitler

15: Turning the Tide against Hitler

When did the course of war with Germany take the decisive turn for England that Churchill had hoped for? Why did his attention wander to Malaysia and Singapore? Why was the Suez Canal such an important lifeline for Britain? What was Churchill’s long-term strategy for facing down the German juggernaut?

29 min
Churchill and Roosevelt

16: Churchill and Roosevelt

Learn how another historical giant—U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt—became the one vital person Churchill needed at his side to win the war. You’ll learn what made these two men such effective partners, including their strong wills, their love of attention, and their hatred of being on the sidelines.

31 min
Churchill and Stalin

17: Churchill and Stalin

Turn now to Churchill’s relationship with another historical giant: Russian leader Joseph Stalin. Why was Churchill’s August 1942 trip to Moscow one of his most difficult wartime challenges? How did he and Roosevelt balance their desire to help an enemy of Hitler’s without allowing Stalin more leverage than was prudent?

31 min
Debating Churchill’s Wartime Leadership

18: Debating Churchill’s Wartime Leadership

Take a look at some of the more controversial decisions of Churchill’s war record, including his possible delay of the D-Day invasion and the bombing campaign against Dresden and other German cities. Also, consider Churchill’s early public stance against the threat to Jews under the Nazis.

30 min
Churchill from Tehran to Yalta

19: Churchill from Tehran to Yalta

At the Tehran Conference, Churchill realized how small Britain was compared to the rising world powers of Russia and the United States. At the Yalta Conference, he discovered the only bond of victors is their common hate. Here, go inside Churchill’s experiences at these critical diplomatic events from World War II.

29 min
Peace, Churchill, and the British Voter

20: Peace, Churchill, and the British Voter

In July 1945, at the height of his triumph over Hitler, Churchill was kicked out of office by the British electorate and replaced with Clement Attlee. Examine how Churchill’s struggle to save Europe from despotism left Britain a minor world power instead of the major power it once was.

29 min
Churchill on the Iron Curtain

21: Churchill on the Iron Curtain

In this lecture on the dawn of the Cold War era, investigate how Churchill grew increasingly disappointed with Britain’s postwar future—including its reduced power, influence, and economic prospects—and his realization that another ominous threat loomed over the world: Stalin and the Soviet dominance of Eastern Europe.

30 min
Churchill and Britain’s Postwar Crisis

22: Churchill and Britain’s Postwar Crisis

As prime minister, Churchill had shared his government with Labour leaders. Learn what happened once Labour assumed power and walked away from that spirit of partnership. From a fiscal meltdown to rationing to British troops at war in Asia, ceaseless opposition became the rule of the day.

30 min
Churchill’s Return to Power

23: Churchill’s Return to Power

Churchill devoted as much energy as possible in his second period as prime minister to cementing ties between the United States and Britain in response to the Soviet Union’s rise as a superpower. Discover how he became a powerful, persuasive advocate for peaceful coexistence in the face of atomic destruction.

27 min
Churchill and the Legacy of Freedom

24: Churchill and the Legacy of Freedom

Was Winston Churchill really the indispensable man of the 20th century? Can one person even make that much of a difference in the course of history? Professor Shelden concludes his lecture series with a pointed consideration of provocative questions that most academic historians won’t even go near.

30 min