I don’t tend to read history books, but my book group does, so usually I slog my way through them. No slogging here! Candice Millard knows how to tell a story so well that I looked forward to those precious moments when I could return to Hero of the Empire. She picked an exciting time in Winston Churchill’s life, the Boer war in what would later become South Africa, and his various roles in it. She begins with a cliffhanger: Churchill having climbed over the wall of the compound where he’s a prisoner of war, only to find his two compatriots didn’t follow! Alone, without a compass or water or more food than a candy bar (the other two were bringing that stuff) or a plan (the other two), he’s stuck. Millard fills in details about his prior life, too, and I learned some things even though I’d just finished another book about Churchill a couple of months ago. (My book group again.) She makes him come alive as a complex person of admirable and less-admirable traits. Now I wish I’d known him, just for the experience of it.