NEW YORK, JAN. 26 -- Winston Churchill faced a possible lifetime of debt and the end of his political career in 1929 but was saved by financier Bernard Baruch from a ruinous day playing the stock market, a historian said today.

The American's financier's "extraordinary act of shrewdness and generosity" rescued Churchill from financial ruin, historian William Manchester wrote in the February-March issue of American Heritage magazine.

Churchill, "a born losing gambler," had stopped into Baruch's New York office and decided to play the stock market, Manchester wrote.

"As prices tumbled he plunged deeper and deeper, trying to outguess the stock exchange," Manchester said.

"At the end of the day, he confronted Baruch in tears. He was, he said, a ruined man. Chartwell {Churchill's estate} and everything else he possessed must be sold; he would have to leave the House of Commons and enter business," Manchester wrote.

But Churchill's longtime friend "gently corrected him," the historian said.

"Churchill, he said, had lost nothing. Baruch had left instructions to buy equivalent stocks every time Churchill sold his and to sell whenever Churchill bought. Winston had come out exactly even because, he later learned, Baruch even paid the commissions."

The historian also wrote that Churchill was "an extraordinary marksman" who, at the age of 70, challenged and bested Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Of 10 shots by Churchill, one hit the fringe of the bull's-eye and the other nine were dead center, while Eisenhower missed the target completely, Manchester said.

The historian, writing about Churchill's time in political exile in the 1930s, said he often spoke abusively to his employes.

"Once a manservant stood up to him. The result was a blazing row. At the end of it, Churchill, his lower lip jutting, said, 'You were very rude to me, you know.' The servant, still seething, replied, 'Yes, but you were rude too.'

"Churchill grumbled, 'Yes, but I am a great man.' " According to Manchester, the servant later recalled, " 'There was no answer to that. He knew, as I and the rest of the world knew, that he was right.'