Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


Alexander, Hitler and countless others probably were once snotty-nosed little kids.  Many were impulsive.  Impudent.  Even indolent.  And so was adolescent Winston Churchill.  Judging by his lore -- not to mention his extraordinary writing legacy -- one skips the "young whippersnapper" in Churchill.  But Candice Millard dials back Big Ben to beget the "braggart" of Winston's early days.
 
From the beginning, Winston was consumed by war.  His grandfather, John Churchill, was seen by friend and foe as England's greatest general.  As an apple falling from this tree, young Winston staged mock battles by the hours with his 1,500-plus toy soldiers.  Privilege surrounded him.  Yet he held an itch to "break out".  Glory became his thirst.  And self promotion the lubrication to gain it.  Many years later, an old flame would exclaim:  "The first time you meet Winston you see all his faults, and the rest of your life you spend in discovering his virtues."
 
And so, off to war.  Way before Gallipoli there was India... The Sudan... and The Boer War in Southern Africa.  He attracted peril like mosquitoes to fly paper.  Young Winston just had to get in the thick of things.  Maybe part of this yen was to shed his precious and delicate upbringing.  But even in the hellish places he would land, he would drag along his aristocratic tastes and somehow achieve special treatment.
 
Winston thrust himself into Africa -- traveling with the British Army and signed on as a correspondent with a newspaper.  The imbed turned heroic, even a daring leader of men.  He tackled dramatically dangerous situations.  Saved lives.  (Not bad for a writer.)  Became a valuable aristocratic prisoner.  Managed a miraculous escape.  And lived to mature and begin his next life -- one oft chronicled by others.
 
Millard is an accomplished story teller.  And, as with The River of Doubt, focusing on a troubled time in Teddy Roosevelt's life, she picks an obscure period in Winston Churchill's past and brings it to lively light.  (Did you know during the Boer War, Thomas Burberry developed "gabardine" for men fighting in trenches -- thus, the "trench coat?)  My, my.  Rudyard Kipling was around.  Mohandas Gandhi was as well.  And when you pick up this book, you will be too.

— Bob Wells

Alexander, Hitler and countless others probably were once snotty-nosed little kids.  Many were impulsive.  Impudent.  Even indolent.  And so was adolescent Winston Churchill.  Judging by his lore -- not to mention his extraordinary writing legacy -- one skips the "young whippersnapper" in Churchill.  But Candice Millard dials back Big Ben to beget the "braggart" of Winston's early days.
 
From the beginning, Winston was consumed by war.  His grandfather, John Churchill, was seen by friend and foe as England's greatest general.  As an apple falling from this tree, young Winston staged mock battles by the hours with his 1,500-plus toy soldiers.  Privilege surrounded him.  Yet he held an itch to "break out".  Glory became his thirst.  And self promotion the lubrication to gain it.  Many years later, an old flame would exclaim:  "The first time you meet Winston you see all his faults, and the rest of your life you spend in discovering his virtues."
 
And so, off to war.  Way before Gallipoli there was India... The Sudan... and The Boer War in Southern Africa.  He attracted peril like mosquitoes to fly paper.  Young Winston just had to get in the thick of things.  Maybe part of this yen was to shed his precious and delicate upbringing.  But even in the hellish places he would land, he would drag along his aristocratic tastes and somehow achieve special treatment.
 
Winston thrust himself into Africa -- traveling with the British Army and signed on as a correspondent with a newspaper.  The imbed turned heroic, even a daring leader of men.  He tackled dramatically dangerous situations.  Saved lives.  (Not bad for a writer.)  Became a valuable aristocratic prisoner.  Managed a miraculous escape.  And lived to mature and begin his next life -- one oft chronicled by others.
 
Millard is an accomplished story teller.  And, as with The River of Doubt, focusing on a troubled time in Teddy Roosevelt's life, she picks an obscure period in Winston Churchill's past and brings it to lively light.  (Did you know during the Boer War, Thomas Burberry developed "gabardine" for men fighting in trenches -- thus, the "trench coat?)  My, my.  Rudyard Kipling was around.  Mohandas Gandhi was as well.  And when you pick up this book, you will be too.

— From Bob's Book Talk

October 2016 Indie Next List


“No one was more certain that he was destined for greatness than Winston Churchill and he let nothing deter or discourage him from achieving that goal. The young Churchill saw his path to prominence and power through fearless exploits in the British Army and as a war correspondent. England's brutal war with the Boer rebels in southern Africa would prove to be his crucible. Millard's exciting chronicle of Churchill's experiences there, both daring and humbling, is a fitting tribute to a man whose early dreams of glory proved to be a self-fulfilling prophesy.”
— Alden Graves (E), Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

Description


From New York Times bestselling author of Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt, a thrilling narrative of Winston Churchill's extraordinary and little-known exploits during the Boer War
 
At age twenty-four, Winston Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England one day, despite the fact he had just lost his first election campaign for Parliament.  He believed that to achieve his goal he must do something spectacular on the battlefield.  Despite deliberately putting himself in extreme danger as a British Army officer in colonial wars in India and Sudan, and as a journalist covering a Cuban uprising against the Spanish, glory and fame had eluded him.
 
Churchill arrived in South Africa in 1899, valet and crates of vintage wine in tow, there to cover the brutal colonial war the British were fighting with Boer rebels. But just two weeks after his arrival, the soldiers he was accompanying on an armored train were ambushed, and Churchill was taken prisoner.  Remarkably, he pulled off a daring escape--but then had to traverse hundreds of miles of enemy territory, alone, with nothing but a crumpled wad of cash, four slabs of chocolate, and his wits to guide him.
           
The story of his escape is incredible enough, but then Churchill enlisted, returned to South Africa, fought in several battles, and ultimately liberated the men with whom he had been imprisoned.
           
Churchill would later remark that this period, "could I have seen my future, was to lay the foundations of my later life." Millard spins an epic story of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters—including Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener, and Mohandas Gandhi—with whom he would later share the world stage. But Hero of the Empire is more than an adventure story, for the lessons Churchill took from the Boer War would profoundly affect 20th century history.

About the Author


CANDICE MILLARD is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and three children.   

Praise For…


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Chosen as a Washington Post and New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2016

"A thrilling account...This book is an awesome nail-biter and top-notch character study rolled into one...Could someone be persuaded to make a movie about this episode of his life? I’d watch."
New York Times Critic Jennifer Senior's Top Ten Books of 2016

“Gripping…tremendously readable and enjoyable…”
Alex von Tunzelmann, The New York Times Book Review

"[A] truly fascinating book."
Financial Times

"A gripping story...It's a thrilling journey and Millard tells it with gusto."
The Guardian

“Millard’s tome is a slam-bang study of Churchill’s wit and wile as he navigates the Boer War like [a] proto-James Bond.” 
USA Today


Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780385535731
ISBN-10: 0385535732
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Pages: 400
Language: English