Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, and the Making of Winston Churchill, by Candice Millard

I certainly never knew this about Winston Churchill. The only times I’ve seen him referenced was in reference to WWII. So, not only did he lead England through that great war, but he was definitely a hero and leader in this Boer War, a war that I’d never heard about.

From his earliest years, young Winston wanted to make a name for himself. And in a big way. His idea was to do it through war. Because of his fervent belief that he was destined for something great, he pursued the front lines, and the greater the danger, the greater the draw.

The Boer War was supposed to be about the British Empire crushing a group of people in South Africa called Boers. They were descendants of the French and a few other European countries. Because they weren’t a country, they had no official army. But because they were battle hardened from fighting native African natives, like the renowned Zulu, they were more than England bargained for.

The British were initially losing badly against the Boers, and Churchill, in the thick of the fighting, was captured and imprisoned. This was intolerable to him, and the Boers took great delight, because the Boers knew he was the son of a British Lord. He resolved to escape, and when he did, he was welcomed back to England as a war hero, and that was the start of his career.

The story of how he escaped and traveled to safety through hostile territory, is the subject of this book, and the author makes it seem as real as if you were there with Churchill. You’ll find that Churchill irritated a lot of people with his brash and arrogant personality, but he was also brave and fearless. This book makes it real.

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