Candice Millard’s brilliant new biography pinpoints a little-known yet specific event that shapes her subject, and, to a large effect, 20th-century history. Hero of the Empire recounts young Winston Churchill’s bold escape from a South African prison camp during the Boer War—a thrilling narrative of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters, including Rudyard Kipling and Mohandas Gandhi.
At age twenty-four, Winston Churchill believed he was destined to become the prime minister of England one day. He climbed his way to minor distinction with a series of stunning military feats in Sudan and India, but when Churchill arrived in South Africa in 1899, he was still an obscure journalist. It was only after his armored train was attacked by Boer rebels that Churchill entered the stage of history. He and a crew of British soldiers were held in a prison camp with limited supplies, no communication, and no options. Remarkably, Churchill pulled off a daring escape—but then had to traverse hundreds of miles of enemy territory alone, with nothing but a crumpled wad of cash, four slabs of chocolate, and his wits to guide him. Once free, he enlisted and returned to South Africa, liberating the men with whom he had been imprisoned.
Churchill would later remark that this period “was to lay the foundations of my later life.” The author of acclaimed New York Times bestsellers River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic, Millard contextualizes Churchill’s early military exploits with his enormous legacy as Britain’s leading man.
“[V]ivid, entertaining. . . . A fresh, captivating history of the enduringly colorful Churchill.” —Kirkus (starred review)
6:15 and 6:45 p.m. Enjoy a pre-event tour of Churchill's paintings and belongings in the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection. Tour sign-up will begin 30 minutes prior to the start time. Tour space is limited and is first-come, first-served.
Candice Millard will sign books shortly after her talk.