Richard Holmes' critically acclaimed hardback In the Footsteps of Churchill is released in paperback on 06.04.2006 by BBC Books. Holmes brings his knowledge of the military and an eye for illuminating detail to this biography of one of Britain 's greatest leaders.
In the Footsteps of Churchill is both a study in character and the story of an extraordinary career.
As a soldier at Omdurman Churchill took part in an old-style cavalry charge and was twice recommended for the Victoria Cross. He went on to become a towering figure in British politics, changing parties twice (from the Conservatives to the Liberals and back again) and holding all the great offices of state except Foreign Secretary.
He was a journalist and historian, wrote some 80 books and won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Although much has been written about Churchill's management of Britain as prime minister through the crisis years of the Second World War, In the Footsteps of Churchill also explores the explosive colour of his early life.
Holmes uses new material to investigate the influences that shaped the man: his troubled schooldays, his flamboyant politician father, Randolph, and his famously attractive American mother, Jennie.
Holmes proposes that the qualities that made Churchill great also led him to commit catastrophic blunders. The recklessness that made him a hero when he was a young correspondent during the Boer War, for example, cost thousands of Allied lives when it emerged during his planning of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, and may also have contributed to the fall of Singapore in 1942. Nor does Holmes ignore the complexity of Churchill's personality: his now unpalatable views on race and culture, his uneasy relationship with the trade unions, his deep depressions and his heavy smoking and drinking.
In the Footsteps of Churchill takes us on an exhilarating journey through Harrow, the North-West Frontier, the Sudan, South Africa, 10 Downing Street and his beloved Chartwell; a journey that begins in the aristocratic splendour of Blenheim Palace and ends in the quiet of a country churchyard – the compass of an extraordinary life in a few Oxfordshire acres.
In the Footsteps of Churchill accompanied an 8 part BBC TV series originally broadcast April 2005.
About the author:
Richard Holmes is Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science.
He has written more than a dozen books on military history, including the highly acclaimed Wellington , Redcoat and Tommy, and is the general editor of the Oxford Companion to Military History.
He presented the BBC television series War Walks, War Walks 2, The Western Front, Battlefields and Wellington : The Iron Duke.