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The idea that Winston modestly hid from history so crucial an event as a brilliant outmanoeuvring of his rival Halifax strains our understanding of his personality, which, by any definition, rates rather high on the narcissistic spectrum.

I know all the meanings of the vocabularies in this sentence, but still I don’t understand this sentence because of the structure. Can someone explain the meaning and structure of this sentence?

It’s a sentence from the Epilogue of Darkest Hour by Anthony McCarten. Here is the paragraph from which this sentence was take from:

Winston never disclosed that he was playing a grand game of deception. He neither did so then, nor after the war, when there was ample time to do so, with much to be gained in reputation. The idea that Winston modestly hid from history so crucial an event as a brilliant outmanoeuvring of his rival Halifax strains our understanding of his personality, which, by any definition, rates rather high on the narcissistic spectrum. Rather than damage his mythic image by revealing such a story, it would enhance it. And if we doubt his desire to curate his legacy, remember, as he once quipped: ‘It will be found much better by all Parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history.’

  • Could you be more specific about what exactly is giving you trouble? – StoneyB Jun 11 '18 at 6:22
  • It is a rather long sentence. If we remove the second half, do you understand "The idea that Winston modestly hid from history so crucial an event as a brilliant outmanoeuvring of his rival Halifax strains our understanding of his personality" – James K Jun 11 '18 at 6:23
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This paragraph is probably a reference to the the May 1940 War cabinet crisis. Viscount Halifax, the British Foreign Secretary, tried to convince Churchill (the recently appointed British Prime Minister) and the War Cabinet to pursue peace terms with Germany, using Mussolini as a peace broker. Churchill did not fully commit to this proposal, although he did not outright dismiss it either. He eventually made an impassioned speech to the Outer Cabinet, declaring that Britain should continue to stand against Germany, which swung the Outer Cabinet strongly behind him. When the War Cabinet and Halifax heard about this, they dropped any further discussions about seeking peace.

The paragraph you quoted essentially says: Churchill brilliantly outmaneuvered his rival, Halifax. After the war, although he had time to boast about how he did this, he chose not to do so. Given Churchill's rather narcissistic personality, it is unlikely that modesty was the reason that he chose not write or speak about this.

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