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My Early Life, 1874-1904

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,754 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
Here, in his own words, are the fascinating first thirty years in the life of one of the most provocative and compelling leaders of the twentieth century, Winston Churchill.

As a visionary, statesman, and historian, and the most eloquent spokesman against Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill was one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century. In this autobiography, Churc
Paperback, 396 pages
Published June 6th 1996 by Scribner (first published 1930)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lewis Weinstein
Feb 28, 2016 Lewis Weinstein rated it really liked it
"When does one first remember? When do the waving lights and shadows of dawning consciousness cast their print upon the mind of a child?"

What a delight. Published in 1930, it covers the first 30 years of Churchill's life (1874-1904), and packs in more adventure than most of us could ever expect in many times those years. Churchill tells war stories in which he was a participant ... in Egypt, in South Africa. Apparently he barely survived many times, before rushing off to India to play in an army
May 04, 2013 Jonathan rated it liked it
Churchill is an engaging writer, both insightful and entertaining. Written in 1930, Churchill covers his life from childhood until the beginning of his political career, with a significant portion of the book devoted to his military time in India and South Africa. There are many interesting tidbits, such as Churchill's meeting with Mark Twain during Churchill's tour of America (Twain gives Churchill a hard time about the Boer Wars) and Churchill's fear of extemporaneous speaking, which led him t ...more
Oct 07, 2009 Linda rated it it was amazing
It did take me a long time to read this book, since I read a lot of other ones in between chapters. I think it was a great book however, and wish I had known Mr. Churchill when he was young. I enjoyed his insights about hiself and his views of the Boer War.
Sep 05, 2007 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction
A fascinating read. I so often forget that Churchill was a real Victorian. If I could have done half of the exciting things that this man did in the five years after he turned 20, I should be satisfied for life.
Jun 10, 2014 Bill rated it really liked it
What a surprise! I knew nothing of Churchill's life before the World War II years. My lasting image of him was the jowly, squat, late-middle-aged man in the famous photo of him, Roosevelt, and Stalin at Yalta. This autobiography of his first twenty-seven years blew that image away.

After a few chapters about his schooling and his distaste for educational institutions, he writes about his years as a young cavalry officer. He managed to attach himself to fighting expeditions in northwest India, Eg
Colin Flanigan
May 05, 2013 Colin Flanigan rated it really liked it
This is Winston Churchill, with all his flaws and famous strengths. It is filled with both adventure and misadventure, as he becomes an officer in the army and starts his writing career. What many forget is that he wrote countless books and supported himself as an author. He was in South Africa during the Boer War, stationed in India, went to Cuba and ran for office, switching parties from conservative to liberal and back again!

His Victorian attitude to the countries under England's rule in the
Apr 07, 2013 Kathy rated it liked it
This book was an interesting look at Churchill's formative years, education, army experiences, and early political life. He came of age during the last of the Victorian Era, when Britain thought it still "ruled the world". Churchill did not come up through the university system but went into the army instead. He felt this was a disadvantage but he was highly ambitious and his family's political connections more than compensated for his lack of an Oxford or Cambridge pedigree. Much of the book ch ...more
Sep 07, 2014 Peter rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
In 1930 Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, then age 56 and destined to live another 34 years, looked back on his first 30 years. One would think this hubris, for what can be achieved in one’s first 30 years? But in fact, unlike some modern politicians who write their autobiography at a young age before any achievements, Churchill had a lot to report.

The result is “My Early Years: 1874-1904,” perhaps one of history’s most entertaining autobiographies. Churchill documents his childhood as the neg
Oct 17, 2010 Scott rated it it was amazing
This was the first biographical work I ever read just because of my own interest. I found it on the bookshelf at the old Henry County Public Library - What a great place! As a young teen, I would ride my bike down and spend hours reading - books, magazines, everything! The librarians, especially Mrs. Mastin, helped so much. She introduced me to the topical files - and a great way to do research. I loved it!

The book was inspiring to a 12-year-old kid! It was written before WWII, so Churchill was
Gopal Vijayaraghavan
Sep 21, 2015 Gopal Vijayaraghavan rated it really liked it
“My early life” by Winston (Spencer) Churchill was published in the year 1930. It covered the period of Churchill’s life from childhood to his becoming a member of House of Commons i.e. about 25 years. This book is an example of Churchill’s command of English language. The best part of the book is when he had narrated the ordeals of his schooling days. Churchill was frank enough to admit his inadequacies and struggles as a student. His aversion to classical languages(e.g. “So they told me how Mr ...more
Mar 06, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I've long been an admirer of Winston Churchill, but had only the image of the unforgettable WWII persona in mind. It was fascinating to hear the author's own account of his upbringing and critical young years. Amazing how much (and how little :) the world has changed in the last 100 or so years as well. I'd probably give this 3.5 stars, just because I wasn't incredibly interested in the military details of the wars in India, the Sudan or South Africa except for their impact on Churchill (his esc ...more
Sep 09, 2008 Virginia rated it it was amazing
Great book; Churchill is quite a surprise in a lot of ways. His personal history was interesting and a bit sad, too.
Might've been three stars but for all the detailed descriptions of the military maneuvers, which I find rather boring. I am, however, fascinated with him (especially his role in WWII) and the wildly changing times he straddled. I think I'll enjoy The Last Lion 1: Visions of Glory 1874-1932 more. I prefer the more neutral reportage of biography and history to the first person narrative of autobiography and memoir. Still, fascinating stuff, and I'm glad I got a sense of his voice before I embarked ...more
Jan 21, 2008 Rick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Churchill wrote this memoir in 1930 when he was 56. With a historian’s respect for the perspective of time, the book only covers his birth through the beginning of the 20th Century. In other words, for one of the giants of the century, none of his major life events (his stints as prime minister and cabinet member and member of the House of Commons, his roles in both world wars and the cold war) are discussed either because he felt more time needed to lapse before tackling them or because they ca ...more
May 29, 2013 Marcus rated it liked it
After reading Herman’s ‘Gandhi and Churchill’, I thought I’d see what Churchill wrote (in 1930) about his ‘Early Life’ – 1874 to 1904, from Harrow, through Sandhurst, Bangalore, Malakand, Omdurman and South Africa, to Westminster. It is a remarkable story through which Churchill makes full use of his elite family connections to get where he wants, and do what he wants – a young cavalry officer desparate for military action, and finding it, repeatedly. An ‘action man’, taking huge risks, with som ...more
G Hodges
Apr 01, 2012 G Hodges rated it really liked it
Even though I knew most of this, hearing it from his point of view is illuminating. And his escape during the Boer war was riveting. Sometimes in history, the right person comes to the stage at the right time. Even though he would have dismissed me as irrelevant in all probability, he is one of the people in my 'who would you like to meet' interview question list. Remarkable. We need someone like him now, but all we have are empty headed selfish politicians who can't see beyond their pocket book ...more
Jun 10, 2016 Diego rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Como odiava aquela escola! Que vida ansiosa, ali, durante dois anos! Progredi muito pouco nas lições e, nos esportes, nada. O meu maior prazer, nessa época, era a leitura. Esta grande salvadora das almas humanas. Lembro-me com detalhes da maioria das coisas que li, meus professores viam-me ao mesmo tempo retardado e precoce, lendo livros acima de minha idade e, no entanto, a ser dos últimos da classe. Mas você sabe; eu era teimoso. Onde a minha imaginação ou minha curiosidade não estavam engaja ...more
Sep 30, 2015 Larry rated it really liked it
I have previously read what I think to be the definitive Churchill biography by Roy Jenkins. Reading Churchill's own views on his early life was particularly interesting – AND, I had no idea he was such a good writer! He’s very clever and has a wonderful wit. He is often very funny – yet thoughtful. (Amazingly, he reminds me of David Sedaris!)

He was certainty brought up with privilege – the best schools (Sandhurst, the Royal Military Academy), polo, etc. – and was ‘of the ruling class’. The book
Oct 28, 2014 Marks54 rated it really liked it
I started this book a long time ago but came back to finish it after a recent trip to Europe. This is one of Churchill's best autobiographical works that traces his life from his earliest school years to his military training and experiences in wars in India, Sudan, and South Africa, to his initial election to Parliament and his first speeches in the Commons. There is no doubt that Churchill is at his best when characterizing his accomplishments and struggles. Remember, he won a nobel prize for ...more
Tim Jin
Feb 18, 2015 Tim Jin rated it it was amazing
It was pretty awesome to hear about the early life of Winston Churchill. I'm a big fan of this great diplomat and have learned about him religiously when I was in school. He was one of the best speech writers of all time. When Churchill spoke, his voice rumbled through the air waves like no other. There hasn't been a leader with this great enthusiasm throughout our history like Winston Churchill.

"My Early Life" is something that he wrote prior to World War II. Great sentence structure and great
Feb 18, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it
Only Churchill! Pompous, egotistical, self-absorbed. All true. And yet - brilliant, intuitive, entertaining, insightful. You've heard it all before and this self-serving retrospective of The Great Man in his own words is all of the above...and more. Idiosyncratic. Impatient. But always the center of any stage...of any age. Really wonderful. Come listen to a true voice of the Victorian and Edwardian Ages, a brilliant and beloved dinosaur describing his own age.
The first 30 years of Winston Churchill’s life subverts your impression of the powerful, confident, alcoholic, jowly, WWII prime minister. I appreciate the candid nature of this autobiography, from admitting the assistance he received from his powerful rich parents, to his jealousy of the Oxford/Cambridge educated, and his initial fears of public speaking.

Winston begins by describing his childhood and schooldays, growing up an aristocrat in Dublin, distant from both parents, but especially his p
Jul 11, 2014 Jon rated it really liked it
Churchill's first 30 years in his own words: an interesting and clear picture of the British political world at the close of the Victorian era. Reading Churchill is simply a delightful experience of the English language.
Dec 30, 2015 Blair rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible, read-in-2015
I visited Churchill's Bunker/War Rooms earlier this year in London and was fascinated. This had come up on sale on Audible, so I picked it up and started listening in conjunction with my visit. I knew little to nothing regarding Churchill prior to this, and was delighted with this. The narrator was fabulous and to my surprise, Churchill was surprisingly amusing. This book was a delight, giving first-hand insight into support of Colonialism and the views of Churchill's time. It was like an advent ...more
Helmut Fischer
Aug 22, 2015 Helmut Fischer rated it it was amazing
My first book by Churchill. No wonder he was not just a celebrated orator, but also a most popular and lauded author. His style and language are so brisk and compelling, his sense of humour almost Wodehousian. One can't help thinking of Bertie Wooster when he is writing about his sometimes bumbling younger self.
More surprisingly (since entirely self taught in these matters) he makes far more sense writing about philosophy, science and -to an extent - religion than much of the academic and intell
Marko Savić
Knjigo sem našel ob zadnji selitvi doma doma. In jo kar pospravil v potovalko. Gre za avtobiografijo W. Churchilla, ki opisuje dvajset let od 1880 do 1900, čeprav se navezuje tudi na dogodke pred in po teh letih.

Prebral sem le del do poglavja Kuba. Ki opisuje njegovo Otroštvo, Harrow, Izpiti, Sandhurst in Četrti huzarski polk. Kar se meni zdi vredno iz tega dela zapomniti je, da je bil Churchill slab učenec ali celo zelo slabo učenec. Našel se je šele potem v vojaški šoli.

Precej bolj zanimiva je
Mar 24, 2013 Jos rated it it was amazing
Churchill wrote this autobiography spanning the first 30 years of his life from 1874 to 1904 in 1930. I have no idea why he chose to restrict himself to a time period so long ago but it helped the book as everything he experienced had already been put in perspective by history.
To start with, Churchill had experienced more with 30 years than other people will in ten lifes. The autobiography is competently written and has something to tell which is a rare thing nowadays that every third rate VIP i
Jangi  Claire
May 21, 2016 Jangi Claire rated it really liked it
Mr Chuchill struck me as an extraordinary, admirable personality. A soldier,reporter, author, politician - all of the highest grade/quality. In my view perhaps the tallest of the twentieth century lot !! And I am not a Briton. His writing & syntax is masterful, captivating, engrossing . Above all, he strikes you as a man of sterling integrity. Gets my five star thumbs up !!
"Always remember that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance."
/Winston S. Churchill

A lifelike narrative of the early years of Winston Churchill. Written with sufficient wit and colourful narrative to keep the reader interested throughout. Even though the book is not a diary in itself, it still gives the impression of youthful energy. Although with an older persons insight.

Even though it is a personal memoir, it gives a description of how the world looked be
Erin Scott
Aug 29, 2014 Erin Scott rated it liked it
Winston certainly has a command of the english language. This detailed, and charming account of Winston's formative years reveals the inner thoughts of the 20th centuries greatest men. From his harrowing escape from captivity in the Boer war to a particularly witty exchange with Winston Churchill the novel writer this book is a must read for any European history buff or card carrying anglophile.
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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC (Can) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955. A noted statesman, orator and strategist, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army. A prolific author, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his own historical writings, "for his mastery ...more
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“You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true and also fierce you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her. She was meant to be wooed and won by youth.” 108 likes
“The POSITIVE THINKER sees the INVISIBLE, feels the INTANGIBLE, and achieves the IMPOSSIBLE.” 29 likes
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