Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive

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9780002570176: Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive

In this stirring biography of a brash, resourceful Churchill in his early twenties, Celia Sandys retraces her illustrious grandfather's path through South Africa as she reconstructs his adventures during nine months of the Anglo-Boer War at the end of the last century. She visits the campsites where the bold war correspondent and ready soldier bivouacked, the battlefields where he skirmished and fought, the site of his incarceration in Pretoria as the Boers' prisoner of war; she follows the route of his daring escape to the Mozambique border. Using both British and South African sources, which alternately reveal the young combatant as a courageous ally or formidable foe, Sandys narrates the heart-stopping exploits of a Churchill that history has largely forgotten. Yet his heroics in Africa thrust him to fame on the international stage, and within three months of his return to England, at the age of twenty-five, Churchill became a member of Parliament.

Churchill: Wanted Dead or Alive offers both a multifaceted portrait of the youthful adventurer who would become England's legendary prime minister and an exciting tale of the turbulent events one hundred years ago that defined South Africa for modern times.

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From Publishers Weekly:

A bestseller in the U.K., this portrait of Winston Churchill, written by his granddaughter, unapologetically presents the future prime minister as an action hero in the Boer War. It's rousing reading. Sandys's affection for her grandfather is obvious, but she shows enough of his grandiosity to maintain a reader's trust. In October 1899, at the age of 25, already having seen significant action in India and Cuba, Churchill went to South Africa as a journalist and eventually enlisted to serve. His brashness and his combat experience made him a headache for military commanders. Churchill was captured by the Boers (hence the title) and escaped by climbing out a latrine window. This episode has always been controversial (it figured prominently in Churchill's early p0litical battles) because, although Churchill fulfilled an officer's duty to try to escape, two other officers claimed that he left them behind and compromised their chances for escape. Sandys (From Winston with Love) maintains that her grandfather simply seized an opportunity. Amazingly, Churchill was never injured, though shrapnel and bullets frequently whizzed by his head. Of his disregard for bullets, he wrote, apparently only half in jest, to his mother: "I am so conceited I do not believe the Gods would create so potent a being as myself for so prosaic an ending." The book ends with Churchill returning to England and winning a Conservative seat in parliament two months short of his 26th birthday. Sandys is fully aware of the extent to which her grandfather had a finger to the political winds during his exploits: he sought the limelight as aggressively as he chased adventure. Because of Sandys's brisk narrative, as well as their knowledge of the man Churchill later became, readers will not hold young Winston's ambition against him.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Sandys, Winston Churchill's granddaughter, introduces readers to the youthful--and quite often cocky--adventurer who would eventually become one of Great Britain's most successful and admired prime ministers. Combining his skills as a journalist with his political and military ambitions, 25-year-old Churchill served in the Boer War as both a soldier and as a war correspondent. During his nine-month stint in South Africa, Churchill, though officially classified as a noncombatant reporter, managed to send stirring dispatches to the Morning Post, engage in several bloody skirmishes with the enemy, be captured and incarcerated as a prisoner of war, and make a suitably sensationalized, yet nonetheless daring, escape from prison. Written in a lively narrative style, this affectionate biographical portrait of a very young, very spirited, and very enterprising Winston Churchill succeeds in foreshadowing the magnitude of the renown he eventually achieved. A rip-roaring good read chockfull of action, suspense, and history. Margaret Flanagan

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