Millard has taken a well-known piece of Churchilliana and skilfully turned it into a large historical narrative. Using many unpublished sources, she weaves into a nail-biting escape story a larger picture of Africa at the cusp of the 20th century. Her eye for humanising detail, her vivid topographical descriptions and her keen awareness of the realities (and surrealities) of war come together in a truly fascinating book.
...her book is much shorter on the anxiety of influence and far longer on the blustery impatience of youth. In Ms. Millard’s retelling, young Churchill was entitled, precocious, supernaturally confident — one of those fellows whose neon self-regard is downright unseemly until the very moment it is earned ... as involving as a popcorn thriller. Ms. Millard does an excellent job conveying the drama of confinement, both inside the prison and out ... What’s striking is the high volume of evidence Ms. Millard has compiled to show how unswervingly he believed in his own majestic destiny more than 40 years before he fulfilled it.
This is well-trodden territory, and, unlike in her earlier works, Millard offers few new facts or insights about Churchill and his South African adventure. Yet, thanks to her formidable storytelling skills, she has succeeded in infusing this familiar narrative with color, excitement and life.