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

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  6,398 Ratings  ·  1,045 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 ca
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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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian, churchill
”I don’t like this fellow, but he’ll be Prime Minister of England one day.”

Sir George White regarding one Winston S. Churchill

 photo churchill_correspondent_zpszw62yhuj.jpg
Isn’t 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 don’t 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
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 introduct
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
As she’s 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 Churchill’s 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 isn’t the only thing that makes Millard’s te ...more
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
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
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vine
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 hi ...more
I am turning into a big fan of Candice Millard. For me, she brings history alive. I thoroughly enjoyed Millard’s other two books: “The River of Doubt” about Theodore Roosevelt’s 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 ...more
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 Boe ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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!
Steven Z.
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Author Candice Millard’s recent successes include RIVER OF DOUBT: THEODORE ROOSEVELT’S DARKEST JOURNEY which chronicles the former president’s 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 read ...more
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 r ...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 t
Aaron Finestone
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The classic image of Winston Churchill is the rotund, cigar smoking, alcohol drinking wartime leader of Great Britain.

One would hardly recognize this fellow in Candice Millard's new biography, "Hero of the Empire" (Doubleday).

Millard tells the story of Churchill's adventures as a newspaper correspondent covering the Boer War in South Africa at the turn of the 20th century. Millard's Churchill is an aristocratic army officer, aspiring politician, and famous journalist, who jumps off trains, brea
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 Victoria’s oldest son and heir. For a member of Churchill’s high ...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 famil ...more
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
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
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
لم أقرأ كتابا في السير والتراجم من قبل بجمال أسلوب هذا الكتاب وسلاسته. أنصح كل من تستهويه كتب التراجم بقراءته.
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 th
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 Churchill’s capture and escape. Wh ...more
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, mostly even riveting was this account of Winston Churchill as a young man! It was a rare privilege - meeting this towering figure as a youth, and thereby gaining some perspective on the evolution of his vital role in history. What a mighty ego he had, coupled with a curious belief in his own destiny! This unwavering self-confidence as well as his fierce determination would provide much needed buoyancy through numerous tight spots during his eventful life. The author included the fol ...more
I went into this book skeptical as my last Millard read was lackluster. For the first half of the book, I waffled on making this a "DNF". However, I am glad I stuck with it because the second half of the book was much better.

This is a biography of Winston Churchill in his youth and early adulthood: his aristocratic upbringing, his love of battle, and his tenure as a war correspondent in the Boer War. All of this is detailed in full (and every letter he writes to his love interest and his mother
Rebecca Wilson
Winston Churchill—he's such a monumental person that I've avoided reading about him until now (also in this category: Teddy Roosevelt, Queen Victoria). So I appreciated this book for its focus on a specific event early in Churchill's life.

The context is the Second Boer War, fought between the British and the Boer (Afrikaans) settlers for South Africa. That it's impossible to root for either side, despite the deeply patriotic central character, indicates Millard's scholarly rigor and balanced ap
Steven Peterson
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting book. . . .

The central focus here is Winston Churchill's escape from a prison during the Boer War.

The back story. . . . He was already ambitious for political success and had fastened on the ultimate goal of becoming prime minister (keep in mind that he was only 24 at the time of this adventure). He had already run to be elected to the House of Commons--and had been defeated. He determined to take part in war and carry out good deeds as a steppingstone to political success. Howeve
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
"...the one scenario that Churchill had not envisioned was crossing enemy territory alone without companions or provisions of any kind. He didn't have a weapon, a map, a compass, or, aside from a few bars of chocolate in his pocket, any food. He didn't speak the language, either that of the Boers or that of the Africans. Beyond the vaguest of outlines, he didn't have a plan-just the unshakable conviction that he was destined for greatness."

Young Churchill trying to find fame and glory, in South
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
Summary: The history of Winston Churchill's involvement in the Boer War as a correspondent, his capture, imprisonment and dangerous escape--events that brought Churchill to national attention.

"Crouching in darkness outside the prison fence in wartime southern Africa, Winston Churchill could still hear the voices of the guards on the other side. Seizing his chance an hour earlier, the twenty-five-year-old had scaled the high, corrugated-iron paling that enclosed the prison yard. But now he was tr
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars, military
If you’re 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 Churchill’s 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, Church ...more
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There is an ambition I cherish so keenly, as to gain a reputation for personal courage.” WC

Winston Churchill wanted a war and after three missed attempts--India, Cuba and Sudan--he got it in South Africa's 1899 Boer War. That it was a miserable shame of a war made no difference to Churchill, he was busy inventing himself and nothing short of public acclaim and military honors would do. He got them, and much more.

“Death stood before me. Grim, sullen Death without his light-hearted companion. Cha
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am in no way a Winston Churchill expert and definitely didn't know anything about the Second Boer War prior to reading this book. I can honestly say I am amazed that Churchill survived to recount his experiences during this time.

Candice Millard turns this story into a kind of action movie where you have to believe that Churchill, a news correspondent, is going to be recaptured or shot trying to escape from the POW camp in Pretoria. But due to his quick thinking efforts to secure a disguise con
Robert French
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history, 2017
As a reader, it is always a pleasure to discover a new author that you thoroughly enjoy. What better endorsement, then to immediately go in search of her other books. I look forward with anticipation to reading both 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 is an exceptional writer and historian. I have been reading a lot of historical fiction over the last few months, but am ex ...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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“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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