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Churchill's First War: Young Winston at War with the Afghans Kindle Edition

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Length: 320 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


Coughlin's portrait of the Pashtun warriors the British fought with dubious success and the parallels he draws with the United States and nato's struggle against their descendants are downright unnerving. (Foreign Affairs)

[Coughlin] has given us a fascinating portrait of a young man who knew what he wanted in life, and set out to achieve it with the relentlessness and determination that would later make him a legend. The book will be of particular interest to those who have fought in the most recent Afghan War. The Talib (students) that Churchill fought are the forerunners of today's Taliban. (Washington Times)

Churchill's First War is a fascinating book with much to recommend it...While other writers have made note of Britain's earlier experience in Afghanistan, Coughlin has done a great job of accomplishing the same thing through the eyes of just one person, the larger-than-life character that is Churchill. (Middle East Policy (Vol. XXII, Spring 2015, No. 1))

An absorbing youthful biography (Kirkus)

A fascinating book, especially for those not versed in the history of the region. Recommended. (Library Journal)

Coughlin examines the elements of Churchill's life that later took the form of a legendary prime minister, but he also provides a history of Afghanistan that reveals the origins of its modern struggles. (Publishers Weekly)

Reading this book is both an indulgent pleasure and a genuine education. (Times Literary Supplement)

About the Author

CON COUGHLIN is the executive foreign editor of The Daily Telegraph and a world-renowned expert on the Middle East. He is the critically-acclaimed author of several books, including the international bestseller, Saddam. He appears regularly on television and radio in the United States and the UK to comment on international security issues.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3801 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (January 28, 2014)
  • Publication Date: January 28, 2014
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #707,254 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Narut Ujnat VINE VOICE on December 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a sucker for wanting to read about one of my favorite historical figures Winston Churchill. Certainly one of the leading figures of the 20th Century, and we are blessed that this poor student was such a fantastic writer of history he participated in, or wrote about.

Con Coughlin is an author I was previously familiar with based on appearances discussing the Middle East and Afghanistan. When I was the premise of this book, I leaped at the chance to read it as I have been interested in Churchill's relatively unknown foray into Afghanistan during the zenith of the British Empire. I was aware that he wrote of his experiences in Afghanistan in The Story of Malakand Field Force, but I had not read that book ( not an easy find until recently) but I was aware of the Great Game and the parallels between then and now with the post 9/11 war in the same area.

For Churchill aficionados, this is still a great read, although some material is familiar (if you have read Manchester's The Last Lion Vol I for example). However, this was a fascinating read for me still as learning about how Churchill formed himself to become that Last Lion in these forsaken places during that time is astonishing (first off, he read like a demon).

This book is mostly about Churchill and not the modern war, but I think the reader will certainly see the paralells as this are has always been pretty lawless and isolated. It is probably a folly to consider controlling the impulses now as it was then as certainly the Allied forces have become a Malakand Field Force trying to bring order to a chaotic area.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Walt Boyes VINE VOICE on January 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Winston Churchill fought in Afghanistan and wrote his first book, "The Story of the Malakand Field Force," about the campaign. Reading his book, one wonders desperately why we were ever stupid enough to go into Afghanistan in 2001. Churchill wrote about the Talib-ul-ani, who are literally the ancestors of the modern Taliban. These were the mad mullahs that the British Raj fought in the 19th century, and their great grandchildren are the mad mullahs that NATO is fighting in 2013. The tactics are the same, allowing for the fact that we have drones and high powered aerial bombardment...and the results are the same too. First NATO (or the British) takes a village. Then the Talib take it back. Lather, rinse and repeat.

This is also a fascinating look at the very young Winston, who, chronically short of funds, tries to wheedle his way into every action because he believes that medals, commendations and being mentioned in dispatches is the way to a high flying political career, such as his father had before syphilis killed him. Winston, very much his mother's son, uses her influence and contacts to become friendly with senior officers, usually with some benefit to his career. He is brave, and willing to be shot at. He understands the military virtues, as he showed when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, and later Prime Minister, because he had personally lived those virtues.

All in all, a terrific book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Churchill's First War" is a fascinating account of the early military life -- and first combat experiences -- of the man who led Great Britain through the dark days of the Second World War: Winston Churchill. The book faithfully recounts his early life as the oldest son of a pair of flamboyant parents -- his father descended from second-string nobility and his mother the heiress to a great American mercantile fortune -- and his struggles to achieve notoriety and set himself on a path toward a political career and service to his country using military service as the vehicle, a struggle made more difficult by his father's early death, and the family's ongoing financial difficulties.

The actual recounting of Winston's military experience on the Afghan frontier is only about 1/4 of the book; the set up, background, and aftermath make up the majority, but it is the background information which is the real heart of the book. Churchill only took part in two military actions in which he was under fire, but they were short, sharp, and very dangerous skirmishes against Afghani tribesmen. The value in this book lies in the understanding it gives the reader of Churchill's early life, and how it set him on the path to becoming the greatest wartime leader the United Kingdom has ever known.

Another valuable contribution which is made by the book - and one wonders if this is not the main reason that author Con Coughlin penned it - is the drawing of parallels between the modern-day situation on the region and the equally complex and dangerous situation experienced by the British forces in young Winston's time. The similarities are thought-provoking, and give this book an added value beyond the autobiographical content on Winston Churchill.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Aceto TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
He lived such a long time. I remember his funeral, some fifteen years after his part in WWII. It took the whole day of television. His first elected office was in 1900. Before that was the Boer War, where Con Coughlin writes, he became a household name because of his escape. Before that was his debut on the world stage in the Malarkand Field Force as a subaltern in the 4th Hussars, a storied cavalry since the days of Wellington. A light brigade of theirs was the Noble Six Hundred that actually did win the day against the Russian cannons at the far end of that valley of death. And actually, not even counting those taken prisoner for a while, more than half emerged unharmed. Coughlin asserts that it was Churchill's time in the 4th that was pivotal to his success.

War is traumatically stressful, we all know. So why was it pivotal in his transformation from privilege to prominence? Why did not the horrors of fighting in Afghanistan not break him as it has countless since? Coughlin suggests the foundation was Churchill's fatalism. He already believed in his own star rising to the future. It was just a matter of finding the way of using those pivots as a political Spider Man, vaulting his way up. Well, he already had three legs up already over his fellow subjects of the crown. But even a chorus line of legs up cannot be certain to overcome the horrors of war, especially those adventures far from home and hearth. Speaking of legs up, it was his mother, Jenny, who bagged General Blood (Would I kid you?) to get Winston into his post on the Northwest Frontier. Dad was dead by that time, from syphilis. And Jenny's father was the one who installed two machine guns at his New York Times.
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