Apart from his long and successful marriage to Clementine Hosier, Winston Churchill had another lifelong love affair - with the United States of America.

This splendid book, by eminent historian and official Churchill biographer Martin Gilbert, charts the course of that relationship.

Winston Churchill possessed a John Bull brand of Britishness, a Victorian upper-class accent, and he was devoted to royalty and Empire, but he also had many 'American' qualities.

These included a warm, extrovert, and talkative disposition, flamboyance, emotionalism, lack of snobbery and perennial optimism. He would have been a great success as an American politician.

At a time when foreign travel was much rarer and more complicated than today, Churchill chalked up 16 trips to the USA in his lifetime. The first was in 1895 and the last in 1961.

In the first two years of the Second World War, when America was still neutral, Churchill did everything he could to woo President Roosevelt into assisting Britain. Churchill made serious errors of judgment at times but also got things spectacularly right, often ahead of public opinion, in a number of crucial areas.

His early realisation of how crucially important a close relationship with America would be to Britain's interests, is just one such example. Anthony Looch