Churchill and the Lion City: Shaping Modern Singapore

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Edited by Brian Farrell

British imperialism helped shaped the modern world order. This same imperialism created modern Singapore, controlling its colonial development and influencing its post-colonial orientation. Winston Churchill was British imperialism's most significant twentieth century statesman. He never visited Singapore, but his story and that of the city-state are deeply intertwined. Singapore became a symbol of British imperial power in Asia to Churchill, while Singaporeans came to see him as symbolizing that power.

The fall of Singapore to Japanese conquest in 1942 was a low point in Churchill's war leadership, one he forever labeled by calling it 'the worst disaster in British military history.' It was also a tragedy for Singapore, ushering in three years of harsh military occupation. But the interplay between these three historical forces, Churchill, Empire, and Singapore, extended well beyond this dramatic conjuncture. The Last Lion and the Lion City provides a critical examination of that longer interplay through an analysis of Churchill's understanding of empire, his perceptions of Singapore and its imperial role, his direction of affairs regarding Singapore and the Empire, and his influence on the subsequent relationship between Britain and Singapore.


“A valuable contribution to the existing literature on the Singapore question, on Churchill as strategic thinker, on the strength and weaknesses of the British imperial defence system as well as the whole piece of strategic policy making in war time." - Greg Kennedy

"Remarkably Churchill's role in the story of the Singapore Strategy from inception to collapse has received relatively little attention. By looking at the story from multiple new angles, the book offers readers something they cannot easily find elsewhere: an answer to the question 'Why did the Singapore strategy fail?' (about which Churchill himself was rather cagey in his memoirs) and 'What does Churchill's involvement with the Singapore story tell us about his imperialism?'" - Raymond Callahan

Brian FARRELL is Professor of History at the National University of Singapore, where he has been teaching since 1993. His main research interest is the military history of the British empire, on which he has published widely.


Publication Year: 2011
272 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-552-1, Paperback
ISBN: 978-9971-69-565-1, Hardback

NUS Press