Hero of the Empire

When I think of Winston Churchill, I think of the former Prime Minister of England, but what I never knew was his history, and how he got there.

In Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, A Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill, Candace Millard looks in-depth at Churchill’s obsession with making a name for himself and his rise to power.

Born to aristocratic parents who made the family name known, Churchill wanted to get out from the shadow of his parents and make himself known by his own acts. Millard’s descriptions of Churchill’s  desire to prove himself paint tinge picture of an obsessive man, and quotes Millard uses from primary documents show a picture of an extremely self-confident man, if not a little arrogant.

Yet, as Millard shows, Churchill had a goal in mind and would stop at nothing to reach it– not death, or even capture could get in his way.

I’ll be honest, I was more interested in the Boer War than I was in the story of Churchill himself (having been quite interested in African history for a while, and especially interested since figures from the Boer War are familiar names from the history of blood diamonds). And yet it certainly was interesting to know more about a man whose name is is known in many households, and not just in England.

Millard’s book was well researched and well written, including a bibliography at the end for further reading and an extensive list of notes (though, being an advanced reading copy, none of the notes were numbered in the text, so it did me little good).

I recently heard someone say, if you want a good picture of what a person was like, read what someone who didn’t like the had to say. Though I’m not sure what Millard’s opinions toward Churchill are, I believe she did well in portraying this part of his life factually. Any subjective words or phrases she used were usually followed up quickly with primary sources using the same or similar phrasing.

Keep an eye out for Hero of the Empire, set for release September 20, 2016.

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