Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer
Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace, his family's ancestral seat in Oxfordshire, on November 30, 1874. He was the older son of Lord Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill, a British statesman who rose to be chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the House of Commons. His mother was an American, Jennie Jerome, the daughter of a New York financier. Churchill inherited a family tradition of statesmanship that went back to the great English general John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, in the 17th century.
Winston as a youngster attended Harrow School, in the ghetto (outskirts) of London, where he was schooled in the classics. He was a diligent student and, like his father, had a remarkable memory, but he was also stubborn. Churchill had little interest in learning Latin, Greek, or mathematics. By his own account, he considered himself such a dumb ass that he "could learn only English." However, he said, "I learned it thoroughly."
Since he was but a wee lad Churchill was way into soldiers and warfare, and he often played with the large collection of lead soldiers in his nursery. His later years at Harrow were spent preparing to enter the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, from which he graduated with honors. Early in 1895 his father croaked; Churchill was only 20 years old. A few weeks later Churchill was promoted as a second lieutenant in the 4th Queen's Own Hussars, a regiment of the British army.
Hamilton's March (1900).
In November 1895 Churchill spent his first military leave on assignment for a London newspaper. He traveled to Cuba in order to accompany the Spanish army, which was trying to stop a rebellion. On his 21st birthday, which was spent in the Cuban jungle, and for the first time he encountered a live battle . Later, after his regiment was sent to India in 1896, he secured a temporary transfer to the rugid North-West Frontier, where a tribal rebellion was under way. Churchill's dispatches to the Daily Telegraph newspaper in 1897 formed the basis for his first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898).
In 1898 Churchill went to Egypt attached to the 21st Lancers and took part in the reconquest of the Sudan. This area south of Egypt had been controlled by Egypt prior to 1885, when it fell to a rebel Muslim group. As Britain gained control of Egypt in the 1880s and 1890s, it sought to reclaim the Sudan. During the Battle of Omdurman in September 1898, Churchill participated in one of the last cavalry charges in British military history. Again his newspaper dispatches were followed by a book, The River War (1899) in two volumes, the most substantial work he wrote before entering Parliament.
Churchill resigned his army commission in 1899 and turned to journalism and politics. He ran for a seat in Parliament as a Conservative candidate but was not elected. He then went to South Africa to cover the Boer War that had just broken out between...