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Entirely by coincidence, The New Yorker's book blog has a post this week called A Tale of Two Winstons.  It stems from the fact that the 20th Century bestseller lists upon which this challenge is based reflect that "the number one best-selling novel every other year or so for the first decade plus were all written by Winston Churchill." 

Who knew the eventual British prime minister was first a best-selling author in America?  Well, he wasn't. 

As the blog post points out, this Winston Churchill was an American novelist.  He had eight novels on the bestseller list between 1900 and 1915, five of which -- The Crisis, The Crossing, Coniston, Mr. Crewe's Career and The Inside of the Cup -- would reach number one.  Churchill, however, stopped writing in 1919.

At the same time he was selling so many books, the American Churchill was also a politician, although not nearly as successfully as his British counterpart.  He served two terms in the New Hampshire legislature but lost in two bids for governor of that state.   According to one historian, the two Churchills exchanged several letters, leading Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill to add the initial “S” to all of his subsequent writings.

I guess it goes to show you can learn something from a reading challenge without even reading one of the books.


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