Friday, March 18, 2005

Flashes from the Past: "He was in constant motion, jumping up and down..."

"When not lost in thought, he was in constant motion, jumping up and down, leaping from chair to chair, rushing about, and falling and hurting himself. He seemed to have no sense of personal safety. His love of martial poetry was obsessive. He had a speech defect and one miserable cold after another..." From his mother we hear that he was a "troublesome boy" and "a most difficult boy to manage." From his principal: "Constantly late for school, losing his books, and papers and various other things into which I need not enter- he is so regular in his irregularity that I don't know what to do."

Who was this fellow with "ADHD"? This was Winston Churchill, the master statesman who according to Time Magazine: "stood alone against fascism and renewed the world's faith in the superiority of democracy." To read more about Churchill, who was also thought to have dyslexia, check out the link in "Geniuses At a Loss for Words".

Churchill himself would say later: "Where my reason, imagination, or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn...My teachers saw me at once backward and precocious, reading books beyond my years and yet at the bottom of the Form. They were offended. They had large resources of compulsion at thei disposal, but I was stubborn."


  1. There was an interesting discussion on gifted politicians at Brad DeLong's site a while back, sparked iniitially by the example of Disraeli's novels. Churchill was one figure discussed.

    Churchill was enormously fertile intellectually. " Winnie has a hundred ideas a day, 2 or 3 of them are actually good " FDR used to say. In addition to his success in politics, Churchill became a Nobel prize-winning historian in 1953. Art experts believe that had Churchill focused on his painting he might have become a great artist instead of merely an expert amateur painter.

  2. Churchill was amazing. It's possible FDR just didn't get all of what Winnie was thinking about. FDR was a great politician, but he wasn't a visionary - at least not in the same way as Churchill. Of course there may be differing opinions about this.

  3. Churchill was quite visionary - also willing to gamble on new, untried, technology or tactics more than on people. Churchill was behind the development of the Tank and ( with Jacky Fischer) the largest class of British battleships in WWI and ULTRA in WWII.

    Gallipoli - his idea - was a disaster in WWI which went partly to Churchill's weakness in getting others to sucessfully execute his visionary ideas. The lessons Churchill and military leaders learned from that debacle though made the Normandy landings in 1944 a success - when a victory was absolutely required.