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Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874-1900 (Volume I)

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The first volume of the official biography of Winston S.Churchill, covering the years from Churchill's birth to the beginning of his political career. The book contains Churchill's letters written as a child, as a boy at Harrow, as a cadet at Sandhurst, and later as a subaltern in India. The first volume of the official biography of Winston S.Churchill, covering the years from Churchill's birth to the beginning of his political career. The book contains Churchill's letters written as a child, as a boy at Harrow, as a cadet at Sandhurst, and later as a subaltern in India.


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The first volume of the official biography of Winston S.Churchill, covering the years from Churchill's birth to the beginning of his political career. The book contains Churchill's letters written as a child, as a boy at Harrow, as a cadet at Sandhurst, and later as a subaltern in India. The first volume of the official biography of Winston S.Churchill, covering the years from Churchill's birth to the beginning of his political career. The book contains Churchill's letters written as a child, as a boy at Harrow, as a cadet at Sandhurst, and later as a subaltern in India.

30 review for Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874-1900 (Volume I)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark Stacy II

    This is the first of an 8 volume biography of Churchill widely considered to be definitive. I enjoyed the book even though the excessive quoting of letters in their entirety was exhausting. I look for to the next 7

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisett

    This is an insightful, highly detailed look at the first 25 or so years of the life of one of the Great Men of British history. The many quoted letters offer vivid insights into young Winston’s family and experiences, particularly the creeping sense of loneliness he experienced while at Harrow: ”Where is everybody? No one has written to me to tell me any news for a long time /.../ Do try my darling Mummy...” Also included are detailed descriptions of teenage fights - a particularly memorable one This is an insightful, highly detailed look at the first 25 or so years of the life of one of the Great Men of British history. The many quoted letters offer vivid insights into young Winston’s family and experiences, particularly the creeping sense of loneliness he experienced while at Harrow: ”Where is everybody? No one has written to me to tell me any news for a long time /.../ Do try my darling Mummy...” Also included are detailed descriptions of teenage fights - a particularly memorable one concerns Winston’s (17 at the time) unwillingness to spend Christmas in France, away from family. Many heated letters are exchanged between mother and son - and as a reader, I was both amused and relieved to see that even in the 19th century, those damn kids gave cheek to their parents! The final quarter of the book changes tone, as we start to see the emergence of the man that would go on to become THE Winston Churchill. Covered in great detail are his early military career, first forays into writing and the notorious Boer War episode. As I learned, even before Churchill acquired the relevant experience or wisdom, he certainly had plenty of confidence: “Besides I am so conceited I do not believe the Gods would create so potent a being as myself for so prosaic an ending.” Aside from learning about WSC, I enjoyed the broader insight into the lives of upper-class Brits at the end of the Victorian era. There are plenty of letters much more direct in tone and topic than I would have expected - including descriptions of affairs, financial trouble and gossip, some of which could be straight out of Page Six. And then there are lines that you’d be hard-pressed to find in a modern letter, such as this one from WSC’s father, Lord Randolph, to his son: “I am doubtful about being able to bring home a tame antelope. The Bechuanaland stamps I think I can obtain.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Donald Johnson

    The book started slow, but my interest intensified the further along I read. Randolph Churchill relies on correspondence between Churchill and his parents and others in telling the story. His extensive quotations from the letters give insight into character that is often less easily seen when you only read the biographer's conclusions. As you progress, you can see how some would not like a driving personality such as Churchill's. He was ambitious, he knew what he wanted, and he saw personal fame The book started slow, but my interest intensified the further along I read. Randolph Churchill relies on correspondence between Churchill and his parents and others in telling the story. His extensive quotations from the letters give insight into character that is often less easily seen when you only read the biographer's conclusions. As you progress, you can see how some would not like a driving personality such as Churchill's. He was ambitious, he knew what he wanted, and he saw personal fame as the way to get it. He was an indifferent student academically, it seems, but that indifference hid a growing and powerful way with words. At the age of twenty-five, as the book closes, he was already the author of four published books and newly elected to parliament. Quite a story to see how he got there.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John A

    For the serious history buff. More detail than you thought you could learn about this Titan of the 20th Century. This multi-volume biography takes the reader through the stages of Churchill's life. This volume establishes the character of the man by examining his home life, education and early career in the military and as a journalist war reporter. For the serious history buff. More detail than you thought you could learn about this Titan of the 20th Century. This multi-volume biography takes the reader through the stages of Churchill's life. This volume establishes the character of the man by examining his home life, education and early career in the military and as a journalist war reporter.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marissa Sobel

    I enjoyed reading about Churchill’s early life as told through letters to family and friends. I thought that the author did a good job at providing interpretation without interjecting too much of his own opinion. Greatly enjoyed reading this book! Now I’ll have to read the other volumes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Guthrie

    Great I wish the editors lived in the 21st century. But, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Definitely worth reading in your spare time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Adam Gossman

    What an awesome book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    One of WSC's earliest books was criticized as being more than twice as long as necessary. Well, Randolph was a chip off the ol' block. One of WSC's earliest books was criticized as being more than twice as long as necessary. Well, Randolph was a chip off the ol' block.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Steeden

    An interesting concept where this is set-up through a series of letters to and from different people to give a sense of Churchill's first 26 years and it works really well. Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on 30-NOV-1874. His father was Lord Randolph Churchill and mother was Jennie Jerome from New York. The book goes into a little detail about his father and mother and there was one curious incident where Lord Randolph's brother, George Charles Marquess of Blandford, h An interesting concept where this is set-up through a series of letters to and from different people to give a sense of Churchill's first 26 years and it works really well. Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on 30-NOV-1874. His father was Lord Randolph Churchill and mother was Jennie Jerome from New York. The book goes into a little detail about his father and mother and there was one curious incident where Lord Randolph's brother, George Charles Marquess of Blandford, had eloped with the wife of the Earl of Aylesford, who was a close friend of the Prince of Wales. Lord Randolph threatened to publicly expose an alleged romance between the Prince of Wales and Lady Aylesford. As you can imagine the Prince of Wales was not happy and Lord Randolph became persona non grata and he ended up having to move the family to Ireland for some years until things in England calmed down which they did and when they eventually moved back Winston went to school in Brighton and then onto Harrow. His father had gone to Eaton. He had a younger brother John who everyone called Jack. It took Churchill three attempts to get into the army and managed enough in the exam to get a cavalry cadetship at Sandhurst. He really enjoyed riding. Lord Randolph dies in 1894. In 1895 he joins the 4th Hussars. With his friend he decides to go to visit New York and then onto volatile Cuba. He was only 21 years of age when out in Cuba and had his first journalistic assignment sending despatches back to the Daily Graphic. He was reporting from the Spanish side who were fighting against Cuban rebels who wanted rid of Spanish administration. On 11-SEP-1896 he sailed to India on the SS Britannia with the 4th Hussars. In India he meets Pamela Plowden whose father was in the Indian Civil service. India bored him and he volunteers to go the northwest frontier and the siege of Malakand where the British faced a force of Pakistani tribesmen. He was second lieutenant in the cavalry but was again writing for newspapers, mainly the Daily Telegraph. From this he wrote 'The Story of the Malakand Force'. In 1899 he wrote 'The River War' after going to Egypt and joining up with Kitchener's forces. A few miles short of Khartoum in Sudan was the Mahdist War between Britain and the Dervish. He was there for the Battle of Omdurman. In 1857 the Transvaal (province in north-east South Africa) was a Boer Republic but Britain's annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 led to the Boer Wars. The Morning Post offered a lucrative contract for Churchill to be their war correspondent. on 15-NOV-1899 he was on an armoured train ambushed by the Boers, they had put a boulder on the track to stop the train, but Churchill assisted courageously but two were killed, ten wounded and 56 captured including Churchill. The captives were taken to Pretoria, the Boer capital.There he was imprisoned in a converted school. After 4 weeks he escaped. Jumped over a wall and waited for other prisoners who eventually did not make it and he went on his way.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    Top-notch. The chance to read Churchill's own letters was a real treat and served to illustrate the forceful personality and intelligence possessed by him from an almost shockingly young age. I'm very much looking forward to continuing this series of books. Commonplace entries: "When once I suggested that I might help his private secretary to write some of his letters, he [Winston's father] froze me into stone. I know now that this would have been only a passing phase. Had he lived another four or Top-notch. The chance to read Churchill's own letters was a real treat and served to illustrate the forceful personality and intelligence possessed by him from an almost shockingly young age. I'm very much looking forward to continuing this series of books. Commonplace entries: "When once I suggested that I might help his private secretary to write some of his letters, he [Winston's father] froze me into stone. I know now that this would have been only a passing phase. Had he lived another four or five years, he could not have done without me. But there were no four or five years! Just as friendly relations were ripening into an Entente, and an alliance or at least a military agreement seemed to my mind not beyond the bounds of reasonable endeavour, he vanished for ever" (206). "'It is said,' Winston was to write nearly forty years later in his Life of Marlborough, 'that famous men are usually the product of an unhappy childhood. The stern compression of circumstances, the twinges of adversity, the spur of slights and taunts in early years, are needed to evoke that ruthless fixity of purpose and tenacious mother-wit without which great actions are seldom accomplished'" (232). "Picture to yourself the American people as a great lusty youth - who treads on all your sensibilities, perpetrates every possible horror of ill manners - whom neither age nor just tradition inspire with reverence - but who moves about his affairs with a good hearted freshness which may well be the envy of older nations of the earth. Of course there are here charming people who are just as refined and cultured as the best in any country in the world - but I believe my impressions of the nation are broadly speaking correct" (261). "Dear Mr de Souza, I do not concede that your Government was justified in holding me, a press correspondent and a non-combatant, a prisoner and I have consequently resolved to escape. The arrangements I have succeeded in making [in] conjunction with my friends outside are such to give me every confidence" (478).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I thoroughly enjoyed the format of this book; letters written by Winston and his close friends and family, with explanations and strategic gap-filling by the author. I was a bit skeptical that the author would be biased, being that he's Churchill's son, but I found him refreshingly candid. And, of course, you get gems like this: "He always described polo to his son as the 'emperor of games' and encouraged him to take it up. Extravagant though his son was he did not feel that the slender income w I thoroughly enjoyed the format of this book; letters written by Winston and his close friends and family, with explanations and strategic gap-filling by the author. I was a bit skeptical that the author would be biased, being that he's Churchill's son, but I found him refreshingly candid. And, of course, you get gems like this: "He always described polo to his son as the 'emperor of games' and encouraged him to take it up. Extravagant though his son was he did not feel that the slender income which was all that Churchill could allow him would justify such an extravagance." A jab at his measly allowance right in the middle of a biography? Fantastic. I was also surprised to find how itinerant my feelings about Winston were. They ranged from awe to distaste to eye-rolling (an emotion in my book). He was a terrible student, as his housemaster mentions in a letter to Mrs. Churchill, his mother, "I do not think, nor does Mr Somervell, that he is in any way wilfully troublesome: but his forgetfulness, carelessness, unpunctuality, and irregularity in every way, have been really so serious, that I write to ask you, when he is at home to speak very gravely to him on the subject." His marks are grievous, and yet he asks for everything and expects it. As he matures, however, there is absolutely nothing to match his drive and he makes up for the dismal grades in sheer dedication to glory and politics. Glory mostly. If anyone wants to read a history of Churchill's youth, but doesn't want to be bogged down by fastidious details and pedantic theories, read this. You are given a chance to see his actual interactions and some of his deeper thoughts that he might not have been as keen to release to the public. You get to see through a somewhat troubled child to what made him such an incredibly influential man later in life.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Werner

    Ambitious Youth Winston, like many a youth at a young age, just prodded along, not knowing what important role awaited him. But he was never satisfied with mediocrity. He eventually realized that only his best efforts would lead to momentous applause. After leaving school, he did all in his power to make a name for himself, a name that would stand out in everyone's mind. His service in the Queen's military led to many bold and dangerous episodes. As a war correspondent, his literary prowess got h Ambitious Youth Winston, like many a youth at a young age, just prodded along, not knowing what important role awaited him. But he was never satisfied with mediocrity. He eventually realized that only his best efforts would lead to momentous applause. After leaving school, he did all in his power to make a name for himself, a name that would stand out in everyone's mind. His service in the Queen's military led to many bold and dangerous episodes. As a war correspondent, his literary prowess got him the attention he was so looking for. Parliament was just around the corner.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Sue

    This took me a long time read on my kindle, however, I'm finally done. As a history buff and big fan of Winston Churchill, and having read many other books about him, this one was extremely slow going and detailed. I liked it, but it did not sustain my interest enough to get back to it and finish it timely. I am reading other books at the same time, so this was not an easy read. But, that said, I plan to move on to the next volume. This took me a long time read on my kindle, however, I'm finally done. As a history buff and big fan of Winston Churchill, and having read many other books about him, this one was extremely slow going and detailed. I liked it, but it did not sustain my interest enough to get back to it and finish it timely. I am reading other books at the same time, so this was not an easy read. But, that said, I plan to move on to the next volume.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jens Hansen

    A familiar subject described in detail and with companion volumes containing all the sources. But is is vast and requires a lot of time and energy if you are to maintain momentum right through to volume VII

  15. 5 out of 5

    James

    This book (and series) I snapped up when I saw for free for the kindle. Seems superbly researched, exhaustively, and as a result is exhausting. Needs a way to filter everything by topic and let us jump to the bits of interest - you can't just read through it, though I tried. This book (and series) I snapped up when I saw for free for the kindle. Seems superbly researched, exhaustively, and as a result is exhausting. Needs a way to filter everything by topic and let us jump to the bits of interest - you can't just read through it, though I tried.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Very worthwhile. The level of detail in this biography, made up mostly of Churchill's letters, is pretty great. It had its tedious stretches, but some really good stuff nonetheless. I'm lately a huge fan of collections of letters, though. Very worthwhile. The level of detail in this biography, made up mostly of Churchill's letters, is pretty great. It had its tedious stretches, but some really good stuff nonetheless. I'm lately a huge fan of collections of letters, though.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Trainor

    An excellent biography of the great Prime Minister, written by his son Randolph and containing tons of letters by Churchill's parents and contemporaries. An excellent biography of the great Prime Minister, written by his son Randolph and containing tons of letters by Churchill's parents and contemporaries.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Oma Eagle

    1972 ed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vaivaswatha Manu

    Astonishing life of WSC told in an illustrative way....I admire such a personality....Thanks to his son for bringing out such a life history....

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cws

    92C

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erik

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Daniel

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Lynch

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zadok

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carl Avery

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ladd

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Brown

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alex

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