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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Candice Millard Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2016 ISBN: 9780307987945
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From New York Times bestselling author of Destiny of the Republic, 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 campaign for parliament. He believed that to achieve his goal he must do something spectacular on the battlefield. Despite deliberately putting himself in extreme danger as a British Army officer in colonial wars in India and Sudan, and as a journalist covering a Cuban uprising against the Spanish, glory and fame had eluded him.

Churchill arrived in South Africa in 1899, valet and crates of vintage wine in tow, there to cover the brutal colonial war the British were fighting with Boer rebels. But just two weeks after his arrival, the soldiers he was accompanying on an armored train were ambushed, and Churchill was taken prisoner. Remarkably, he 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.

The story of his escape is incredible enough, but then Churchill enlisted, returned to South Africa, fought in several battles, and ultimately liberated the men with whom he had been imprisoned.

Churchill would later remark that this period, “could I have seen my future, was to lay the foundations of my later life.” Millard spins an epic story of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters—including Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener, and Mohandas Gandhi—with whom he would later share the world stage. But Hero of the Empire is more than an adventure story, for the lessons Churchill took from Boer War would profoundly affect twentieth century history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Simon Vance’s full-throttle narration is one of the many delights in this rousing biography of Winston Churchill’s youthful escapades in the Boer War. Yes, the future statesman was a colossal egoist blessed with complete self-confidence, but, trust me, he was also funny, smart, talented, brave, goodhearted, and an all-together boon companion. He’s also lucky in Vance, who reads the future statesman’s boastful letters home with a straight face, which allows the audience to laugh, and with just the right hint of the Churchillian timbre. His interpretations of others, including Boer soldiers, Brits of all classes, and the odd American are equally well shaded. And when the adventure breaks out, as it often does, he breathlessly dodges bullets with the best of them. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “A slam-bang study of Churchill’s wit and wile as he navigates the Boer War like [a] proto-James Bond.”

    USA Today

  • “Compelling.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A nail-biting escape story…a truly fascinating book.”

    Financial Times (London)

  • “As involving as a popcorn thriller…Excellent.”

    New York Times

  • “Thanks to Millard’s formidable storytelling skills, she has succeeded in infusing this familiar narrative with color, excitement and life.”

    Washington Post

  • “Millard’s suspenseful writing is ideal for this adventure-novel material.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “It’s a thrilling journey, and Millard tells it with gusto.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “A study in ambition, bravery, luck, recklessness, self-confidence, and swagger.”


  • “A seamless and gripping narrative…vivid, entertaining…A fresh, captivating history of the enduringly colorful Churchill.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Millard’s rendering of the exciting details of Churchill’s heroic exploits result in a magnificently told story.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Captures Churchill’s exploits as a prisoner of war, daring escapee, and heroic fighter in this stirring narrative.”


  • “Both eminently readable and exceptionally informative.”

    Phil Reed, director of the Churchill War Rooms

  • “Vivid narrative and original scholarship…Supremely courageous, flagrantly ambitious, and incredibly lucky, young Winston emerges as the authentic hero of this thrilling tale of imperial derring-do.”

    Piers Brendon, former keeper of the Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge

  • An Amazon Editor’s Top Pick for September 2016
  • A BookPage Top Pick for October 2016
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A Washington Post Notable Book of 2016 in Nonfiction
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About the Author

Candice Millard is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The River of Doubt, Destiny of the Republic, and Hero of the Empire. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Time, the Washington Post, and the New York Times Book Review.

About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.