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

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  9,218 ratings  ·  1,359 reviews
From New York Times bestselling author of Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt, a thrilling narrative of Winston Churchill's extraordinary and little-known exploits during the Boer War

At age twenty-four, Winston Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England one day, despite the fact he had just lost his first election
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Paperback, 563 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Random House Large Print (first published April 12th 2016)
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Barb Actually, it was more of a savor. I could put it down, but them immediately became engrossed each time I returned to it. I learned a great deal from…moreActually, it was more of a savor. I could put it down, but them immediately became engrossed each time I returned to it. I learned a great deal from it and came to appreciate Churchill even more.(less)
Elizabeth Yes! Very little (since it's about Churchill and the history of the Boer War), but Millard definitely mentions his part and a little bit of history of…moreYes! Very little (since it's about Churchill and the history of the Boer War), but Millard definitely mentions his part and a little bit of history of him being in South Africa. There is also a bit about Gandhi in the epilogue after the Boer War is over.(less)

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 ·  9,218 ratings  ·  1,359 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian, churchill
I dont like this fellow, but hell be Prime Minister of England one day.

Sir George White regarding one Winston S. Churchill


 photo churchill_correspondent_zpszw62yhuj.jpg
Isnt he precious? Winston Churchill on the cusp of greatness.

Winston Spencer Churchill was an easy man to respect, an easy man to love, but a hard man to like. I dont know if there has ever been a man more convinced of his own importance or with a clearer vision of his destiny than Winston Churchill. There are contenders throughout history, one being Theodore Roosevelt, who
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Diane S ☔
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
A young Churchill and the Boar War, neither of which I knew anything about before reading this book.
This author does such a great job explaining people and events, making them understandable and exciting. Who the Boars were, their history with Great Britain, why the war was fought and the consequences of this war. Churchill's quest to make a name for himself, his self confidence in his future prospects and ability to maneuver in all situations were shown here, and of course later these skills
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Diane
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about a young Winston Churchill and his experiences in South Africa during the Second Boer War.

If you aren't familiar with the Boer Wars (I wasn't), don't worry, you're in good hands with Candice Millard. She provides background info and explains why Churchill was eager to travel to Africa and gain some notoriety. I thought the book's narrative was strong, and this was an engaging read. I had been meaning to read more about Churchill, and this was a nice
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Jaylia3
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
As shes already proved in The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey and Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, Candice Millard really knows how to tell a gripping story, and this account of young Winston Churchills incredible prison escape during the Boer War made me postpone all other activities as I stayed glued to its pages, but--as with her other titles--the event that inspired the book isnt the only thing that makes Millards ...more
Jill Hutchinson
The man who was born to be PM during Britain's darkest hours...Winston Churchill. As a brash young man, he would tell all who would listen that he was destined for a great future. Although he had been called many things......an opportunist, a braggart, a blowhard....no one ever questioned his bravery. This book portrays Churchill, warts and all, in his youth (age 23) as he was attempting to make a name for himself through any means that he saw as fortuitous. It turned out to be the Second Boer ...more
Chrissie
I love it when I don't have to rack my brain figuring out how to rate a book; this is a clear four star book!

All interested in the Boer Wars, particularly the second, should read this book. The first is covered quickly so you are aware of vital background information for the events of the second.

All who want to learn a bit more about Churchill should read this book. His personality comes out strong and clear. He was extremely self-assured and determined to make a name for himself in politics. He
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Jean
I am turning into a big fan of Candice Millard. For me, she brings history alive. I thoroughly enjoyed Millards other two books: The River of Doubt about Theodore Roosevelts Amazon trip in 1912 and Destiny of the Republic about the assassination of James A. Garfield. I read everything I can get my hands on about or by Winston S. Churchill. When I discovered Millard had written her new book about Churchill, I just had to read it. With so much written about Churchill, Millard did what she is a ...more
Dan
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book by Candice Millard. This is about as good as narrative histories get. The drama around Churchills capture and escape and this year of his life was intense but not overwrought. I wont provide a plot summary here as this story is about the drama of the unknown.

Interestingly enough I read the Manchester biographies on Churchill. Manchester did not do justice to this most exciting portion of Churchills life from the capture to the escape.

This was very close to a five star
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Steven Z.
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Author Candice Millards recent successes include RIVER OF DOUBT: THEODORE ROOSEVELTS DARKEST JOURNEY which chronicles the former presidents exploration of the Amazon River, and DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC: A TALE OF MADNESS, MEDICINE AND THE MURDER OF A PRESIDENT that categorizes the life and assassination of President James A. Garfield. She has followed these works with her latest book, HERO OF THE EMPIRE: THE BOER WAR, A DARING ESCAPE AND THE MAKING OF WINSTON CHURCHILL that introduces the reader ...more
Clif Hostetler
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The early years of Winston Churchill's life are creatively retold in this book from our perspective of the twenty-first century. Churchill's actions during this time of his life can be correctly described as a buccaneering, attention-seeking journalist and soldier. Blessed with more than his share of good luck he was able to be successful at becoming well known for his feats.

The 24-year old Churchill arrived in South Africa in October 1899 as a correspondent for the Morning Post to report on the
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Susan
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1899, Winston Churchill was twenty four. A young man burning with ambition and a sense of his brilliant future. All this despite the fact that he has just failed to be elected as an MP, after standing for Oldham, and the continuation of the difficult relationship with his mother, who was heading towards marriage with a much younger man; considered unsuitable by her own sons, his family and the Prince of Wales. Always desperate for approval, Winston wrote, asking his mother to campaign with ...more
Emily
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh, Candice Millard, please won't you tell me ALL THE HISTORY OF EVERYTHING and make it all this palatable and fascinating and edifying? I'm not a great reader of nonfiction, but this is the gold standard as far as I'm concerned: simply yet grippingly written, impeccably researched, with an eye to contemporary social mores. Millard places the extraordinary story of young Churchill's capture and escape in South Africa squarely in the center of its historical context, explaining much about the ...more
Tony
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Candice Millard's book on young Winston Churchill and his part in the second Boer War reads like a real-life "Boy's Own" adventure. As exciting as any thriller and endlessly interesting, Ms Millard covers Churchill's childhood, his ambitions and reasons for travelling to South Africa, and his adventures while there. Along the way we also get a brief history of South Africa, the origins of the Boer Wars, Gandhi, Apartheid, and the birth of concentration camps. Great fun!
Czarny Pies
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Readers who admire people who blow their own horn.
Shelves: african
Hero of the Empire is a vignette from the life of Winston Churchill that reveals the great statesman as being as reckless on the battlefield as his mother was in love. What the book lacks in substance, it more than compensates for in verve and charm.
Hero of the Empire covers the 12 month period in the life of Winston Churchill beginning in June 1899 when he loses in his first attempt to win a seat in the in the House of Commons to June 1900 when he departs from South Africa a hero of war
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happy
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-military
Ms. Millard has once again delivered an excellent look at the late 19th/early 20th century. This time she chooses to look at a young Winston Churchill and at the same time British Imperialism. Not only does she try to explain the overwhelming confidence of the young Winston and his activities leading up to his going to South Africa at the outbreak of the war, but she also explains just what was going on in South Africa that caused a war between the descendants of the early while setters of the ...more
John Behle
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Winston Churchill makes good book. Larger than life, we all know the images, the famed "V sign" and his jaunty cigar jutting from that jowly face. He lived long enough ago to be a pillar of history, yet recently enough that many people can talk about working with him. I toured his estate, Chartwell, in Kent and met several of those good people with living Churchill stories. In retirement, WSC painted landscapes in his garden.

Here is an early chapter in that celebrated life. How many of us have
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Sean O
This was a pretty good read. I like the part of this book that shows Churchill as a entitled prick. Too many biographies shine up the halo. Its nice to see flaws once in a while.

I didnt know much about South Africa. For instance I had no idea that Ghandi lived here and formed his non violence ideals trying to get rights for Indians in South Africa. It tells you a lot about the Boers that he gave up here and went to try again in India.
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Daniel Chaikin
I'm about to go on a rant and criticize Millard, possible unfairly, so before I get going...

Candice Millard has made something of a name for herself as full time mom in the Kansas City who is also a serious historian and, from an office in her husband's business, authors best selling history books. A one time National Geographic writer, she has excellent pen and writes history as adventure, capturing Theodore Roosevelt in South America, the assassination of James Garfield and, here in Hero of
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Nancy
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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 offically a war correspondant he dived in to help when the British troop transport train he was on was wrecked; consquently when the
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Ms.pegasus
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: selection of our local book club
Shelves: nonfiction, history
I had difficulty parsing my present-day sensibilities from those of Victorian England, the period that shaped Winston Churchill's ideals. The unapologetic hubris of imperialism, the careless disregard for human life, and the obsession with testosterone-fueled proofs of masculinity continue to haunt us today. Its legacy is a world filled with post-colonial resentment and rigid gender stereotypes.

It is perhaps easier to evade these problems in fiction. Characters either wrestle with the
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Hank
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tbr-clean-2020
Millard truly is brilliant in making history entertaining. I knew nothing about the Boer war before this book and now I know a bit more. Was I interested in learning about Winston Churchill? Not really but this part of his life was fascinating (due to Millard). He was a completely British, pompous ass, born into a life of privilege and with a sense of importance only found from that privilege. His claim to fame was escaping a fairly lax prison camp during a time the British were getting their ...more
Jeff
I wanted to like this one or two stars more, but I was left scratching my head a little. The story's hero is presented in great detail, in a non-fiction tale that reads like a novel. But for the thorough coverage of the Boer War battles that took place while Churchill was in hiding, the conflict appeared to be over with a snap of the fingers once he completed his escape, and I never felt a connection between his presence in the action and its results. Yet ultimately the story did it's job: ...more
Book Concierge
Audio book read by Simon Vance.


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

Millard writes an interesting and detailed biography of the young Winston Churchill. Long before he became the statesman who shepherded his nation through the darkest days of WW2, he was a young, somewhat rash man eager to make his mark in the world. Working as a journalist and war correspondent, he was captured during the Boer War. He connected with a couple of other prisoners of war and
...more
Book Haunt
Sir Winston Churchill was an accomplished, larger-than-life, somewhat pompous and unlikeable, yet oft-revered historical figure. He was born a British nobleman, the son of Lord Randolph Churchill, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and his wife, Jennie Jerome, an American socialite. As such he was a direct descendant of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough and his parents were personal friends of the Prince of Wales, Queen Victorias oldest son and heir. For a member of Churchills high ...more
Maggie Holmes
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-2016
A surprisingly fast and gripping read about Winston Churchill's role in the Boer War. Churchill's good friend, Pamela Plowden said, "The first time you meet Winston you see all his faults and the rest of your life you spend discovering his virtues." Candice Millard allows us to meet young Churchill at the beginning as a brash, racist, egotistical man whose certainty that he is meant for greatness places him, and often those with him, in danger. He epitomized the British Empire which also saw ...more
Evan Leach
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In River of Doubt, Candice Millard crafted a unique biography of Theodore Roosevelt by focusing on one of the lesser known episodes of his life, a post-Presidential exploratory trip to the Amazon. In Hero of the Empire, Millard takes the same approach to Winston Churchill. Rather than devoting pages to Churchill's famous role leading up to and throughout World War II, Empire describes Churchill's experiences in the Boer War as a young man. The result is a glimpse of a great man from a less ...more
Patremagne
Jan 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I'd probably say somewhere between a 3 and a 4. It does a good job of highlighting that young Churchill was the epitome of an arrogant, glory-seeking, egotistical sonofabitch that would do literally anything to have his name in the papers.

I don't want to take anything away from the magnificent man that Churchill was, but I feel like including "hero" in the title makes it a bit of a misnomer when it comes to what he did in his younger years/the Boer War. As I mentioned, the author sorta outlined
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Rob
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars, military
If youre a Winston Churchill fan and want to read more about his early life, especially as a war correspondent during the Boer War (1899) his heroic feats, his capture and dramatic escape then this is an easy-to-read, five-star jewel. The Making of Winston Churchill is a good tag line. Millard does an excellent job discussing Churchills early years as a stumbling politician, his entry into the military, and his involvement in Britain's conflicts in India and the Sudan. From there, Churchills ...more
Alex
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Toujours de laudace. These are the words Churchill repeated to himself as he made his break, beseeching courage to rise in his heart. Always more audacity. ...more
Melora
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enormously interesting, but also terribly dismaying. The British behave badly, the Boers behave badly, and the young Winston Churchill is brave and romantic, but also appallingly reckless, selfish, and opportunistic. Still, even in a stupid war characterized by hubris and cruelty, some actors here show astonishing generosity and decency. Mostly, though, what I enjoyed were the background and side stories that Candice Millard presents along with the narrative of Churchills capture and escape. ...more
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Candice Millard is a former writer and editor for National Geographic magazine. Her first book, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, was a New York Times bestseller and was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, and Kansas City Star. The River of Doubt was a Barnes & Noble Discover ...more

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Philippa Gregory is best known for reimagining the lives of famous royal women in bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn...
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“Always more audacity.” 3 likes
“Even clothing its men was a complicated and time-consuming task for the British army. While the Boers were lucky to have any coat at all, Her Majesty’s forces had the latest in rain gear to protect them from the South African summer downpours. The British clothier Thomas Burberry had developed a new fabric called gabardine, a chemically processed wool that could repel rain and was resistant to tears. The soldiers in the Boer War would be the first to wear jackets made from this fabric, which they called Burberrys. Fifteen years later, Burberry would design another coat for soldiers in World War I, with straps on the shoulders for their epaulets and brass D-rings on the belt for their swords and hand grenades. Because most of the men wearing it would be fighting in the trenches, it was called a trench coat.” 3 likes
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