Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill


Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard is a riveting tale of adventure, providential happenstance, and determination.

At age 24 the pampered, dandy Winston Churchill believed he was destined to become Prime Minister of England and set out to be a war hero in the Boer War as his way to fame. Although officially a war correspondent he dived in to help when the British troop transport train he was on was wrecked; consequently when the Boers captured Winston he had been witnessed acting as a soldier. The capture of Lord Randolph Churchill's son was a glorious coup for the Boers, especially as the Lord had been very critical of the Boers.

Chaffing at imprisonment, even with the luxury of haircuts, ordering new suits, and gracious 'hosts', Winston forced his way into friends' escape plans. Sadly, Winston escaped but his friends were unable to join him, leaving him to face traveling 300 miles through enemy territory alone, unarmed, and without water or compass.

He was a very sure young man who relied on his intuition. Yet finding himself alone in the veldt and uncertain of how to proceed he broke down and prayed for guidance. The answer was to continue to follow his intuition. He walked to the lights of what turned out to be a Boer owned mining camp.

I was surprised to find myself laughing aloud by the amazing luck Churchill had during his escape. More amazing is that after reaching safety Winston turned around and returned to the war! It was the stepping stone he had hoped for, bringing him fame, and after the war he was elected to Parliament.

The British treatment of the Boers and the resulting war was not Britain's finest moment. Then, the Boers were not the finest example of colonists, either; they developed apartheid after all.

Churchill was a prolific writer and Millard allows us to hear Churchill's own words concerning his experiences.

Previously I also enjoyed reading Millard's River of Doubt about Teddy Roosevelts post-presidential exploration into the Amazon which nearly killed him.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Hero of the Empire
Candice Millard
Doubleday
Publication Sept 20, 2016
$21.99
ISBN: 9780385535748