Why Young Churchill Is Even More Fascinating Than Old Churchill

By Markets Fool.com

On this week's Rule Breakers podcast, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner interviews Candace Millard, whose latest gripping dive into history is Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill. In this segment, she gives an overview of the 24-year-old Winston, a young man who went off to war to make his name, and who did in fact transform himself into a hero, at a turning point in world and military history.

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A transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on Sept. 28, 2016.

David Gardner: So your new book, Hero of the Empire, focuses on Winston Churchill. But not the jolly, silver-tongued fellow who helped save his country and maybe the Western world from Hitler, but you're focused on the 24-year-old. Why Churchill at 24? Why this story?

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Candace Millard: Well, this is really the making of Winston Churchill. So Churchill had run for Parliament before this war and had lost. And he saw this war as an opportunity to make his name and become famous. Now, he never could have predicted what happened, but the fact is that this war did turn him into a hero. He ran again while the war was still going on. He went back to England, and ran again, and he won and it launched his career.

The Boer War, itself, is really also the beginning of modern warfare. Some of the first guerrilla fighting. First concentration camp. It really prepared the British Army for World War I, so there's just a lot that's very, very fascinating to me about this. And it's seeing this man's formation -- this man we all know, this incredibly famous human being -- where he came from and how he got there.

Gardner: And the book largely covers... It starts with an escape from a prison and then a 300-mile trek?

Millard: Uh-huh.

Gardner: Do I have it right? Now I have not read it, yet. I read your previous two, but this has just come out this week. But is that where we're headed?

Millard: Yes.

Gardner: No spoilers?

Millard: Right. Well, it doesn't start there. It actually starts with him in Malakand, in British India, fighting there, so you can understand who he was. So again, he's 24 years old, but he's already been in three wars on three different continents. He's already written three books. He's run for Parliament. So he's this incredibly ambitious young man who is willing to risk anything, even his life, for the fame and attention that he thinks will propel him to political power, which he thinks is his destiny.

So it brings him to South Africa. He's actually a correspondent (he's left the military at that point), so he's a correspondent there to cover the war, and he's very quickly captured.

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