Millard gives us the fascinating story of Churchill’s escape from a prison camp. With nothing but four bars of chocolate and a handful of cash, he made his way to safety. Lively and thoroughly readable, this account of young Churchill during the Boer War is an illuminating glimpse into his early career. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
“Riveting…meticulous…Millard’s brilliant modus operandi is to identify a singular, little-explored event in a well-documented life. She then uses that very pointed story as a wedge that she drives into the person’s character, cracking it wide open in a manner usually reserved for fiction. And so it is with her account of young Churchill. Millard has no shortage of strengths as a writer, but particularly spectacular is her ability to make history and historical figures not only relatable, but absolutely relevant to contemporary readers.” Kansas City Star
“A rich narrative…Millard zeroes in on the epic beginnings of an epic public life [and] masters all the details. 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
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.