Britain: In the Shadow

If it is difficult to be the son of an outstanding father, Randolph Frederick Edward Spencer Churchill had one of the most difficult roles in history. Born in 1911 in the year his father, Winston Churchill, became First Lord of the Admiralty, Randolph keenly felt the overpowering effects of his father's greatness. "When you are living under the shadow of a great oak tree," he once reflected, "the small sapling does not perhaps receive enough sunshine." Last week, at 57 still in the shadow, Randolph Churchill died.

From his early childhood, Randolph felt compelled to emulate his towering father. After undistinguished...