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.
- By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, European colonization of Africa had become a frantic and bloody scramble.
- The entire conflict was ugly in every possible way, but it was the making of Winston Churchill’s political career.
- Nonetheless, the main goal was met: News of his valor, leadership, and determination in freeing the train filled the British newspapers.
“a man of indecision and blunder, sent an armored reconnaissance train bearing soldiers, civilian railway workers, and Winston Churchill right into the teeth of a Boer ambush.”