Throughout history, brave souls have answered the call to serve their country and to risk it all on the battlefield. But few have done it with more guts and gusto than Winston Churchill.
In her latest book, “Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill,” Candice Millard introduces us to a young man who believed early on that he was destined to lead. Churchill thirsted for a chance to be a hero, both in war and in the eyes of the public, she writes.
Young Winston didn’t stand out because of his achievements — he didn’t like school and he didn’t do well. But he was brash and arrogant, even speaking at a young age of becoming Britain’s prime minister one day. Churchill saw war as the ultimate stage for gaining fame, and his perceived destiny as a leader made him fearless when it came to the risks the battlefield posed.
Churchill pushed his way to the front lines of three wars, only to return without the glory he sought. The Boer War of 1899 changed all that. Churchill again inserted himself, this time as a journalist, and led a battle on an armored train against the formidable Boers. After being taken prisoner, he pulled off a daring escape and returned home a hero. Just months later, his success propelled him to a spot in Parliament.
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Millard is a former writer and editor for National Geographic magazine. Both of her previous books, “The River of Doubt” and “Destiny of the Republic,” landed on the New York Times bestseller list and were named best books of the year by the New York Times, among others. Millard’s work also has appeared in Time Magazine, Washington Post Book World and the New York Times Book Review.
In her latest work, she proves the old adage that being in the right place at the right time pays off, at least for a very determined Winston Churchill. He went on to become prime minister of the United Kingdom during World War II and today is remembered as one of the pivotal leaders of the 20th century.
Bob Kustra is president of Boise State University and host of Reader’s Corner, a weekly radio show on Boise State Public Radio. Reader’s Corner airs Fridays at 6 p.m. and repeats Sundays at 11 a.m. on KBSX 91.5 FM. Previous shows, including an interview with Millard, are online and available for podcast at http://boisestatepublicradio.org/programs/readers-corner.