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Children's LiteratureThe Modern World subset of biographies in the "Signature Lives" series is based partly on the premise that the mind-set of our present world includes a "focus on humanitarianism" and that "a global economy has made the world a more connected place." This seems more an ideal (for some) than a reality, as borne out in Churchill's career, which was based largely on his accomplishments in war. As a privileged young Englishman, he prepared for military life at Sandhurst but was able to get himself sent as a war correspondent to Cuba and, after resigning from the army, to South Africa. His escape from a Boer prison camp and the book it inspired ensured his fame and led to his entry into politics. Young adults are offered a readable overview of Churchill's multi-faceted career as politician, writer, painter, and wartime leader, including some of his many setbacks and ultimate triumph in Western world opinion. Included are several less-often-seen photographs: Winston as a boy formally outfitted for Harrow, as a soldier resplendent in hussar uniform, as a white-hatted young gentleman lounging against his horse (held by an Indian servant), and a lovely photo of the young Clementine Churchill. Since space often limits discussion of complexities, readers will not discover, for example, the full implications of Churchill's party shifts, the hatred earned by the Gallipoli disaster or, of interest to girls, his adamant opposition to women's suffrage. Still, teens will get a sense of Churchill's incredible energy, talent, tenacity, and accomplishment. 2006, Compass Point, Ages 12 to 16.
—Barbara L. Talcroft