Sir Winston Churchill was a well-traveled man. By the time he was twenty-five, his thirst for adventure had taken him to Cuba, India's North-West frontier, the Sudan, and South Africa, as well as to battle, prison, and worldwide fame. During World War II, when as prime minister he held Britain's destiny in his hands, he hazarded arduous journeys not only to confer face-to-face with his allies Roosevelt and Stalin, but also to witness firsthand the action at the front. In later years, his enduring passion for painting prompted travels to locales like Marrakech. (He took President Roosevelt there in 1943, simply to view a splendid sunset.) Celia Sandys actually accompanied her famous grandfather on some of his later travels, most memorably on a cruise aboard Aristotle Onassis's yacht Christina, but for this always-engaging book she herself has retraced his many journeys over seventy years on four continents, and sought the people who knew, entertained, consulted, or simply crossed paths with him. In their long-untold stories she finds her grandfather's character illuminated in new, revealing, and often surprising ways.
Sandys (Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive) is the great leader's granddaughter, and her new book is an amiable history of Churchill's many travels. As a young, extremely ambitious military officer and war correspondent, Churchill traveled to Cuba in 1895 to witness a bloody guerrilla war. Later, in India and South Africa, he experienced war firsthand. He was famously captured by the Boers and made a daring escape, which, Sandys says, turned him into an international celebrity and helped launch his political career. Churchill loved the British Empire unreservedly and traveled it widely. Sandys follows in his footsteps, seeking (mostly in vain) for present-day evidence of her grandfather's journeys. She devotes much of the book to describing Churchill's diplomatic trips during WWII. Indeed, Sandys says Churchill's tireless traveling to Washington and Yalta largely created the famous "special relationship" between Britain and the United States. After the war, Churchill traveled all over Europe, especially the south of France, in order to paint and write. Through describing these journeys, Sandys gives a clear portrait of the charismatic leader: constantly smoking his famous cigars, drinking lots of whiskey and living a decidedly nocturnal existence (he liked to work into the wee hours of the night). Sandys accompanied her grandfather on several of his later trips, and she vividly recalls a 1959 cruise on Aristotle Onassis's yacht, with a rather insufferable Maria Callas. While Sandys doesn't reveal anything fresh about Churchill, she does emphasize one thing his world travels helped make him into a legendary leader. B&w photos, maps.