Churchill's First War

Young Winston at War with the Afghans

By Con Coughlin
(Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9781250043047, 320pp.)

Publication Date: January 28, 2014

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Churchill's First War by Con Coughlin is a fascinating account of Winston Churchill's early military career fighting in the 1890 Afghan campaign, offering fresh and revealing parallels into today's war in Afghanistan

Just over a century ago British troops were fighting a vicious frontier war against Pashtun tribeman on the North West Frontier—the great-great-grandfathers of the Taliban and tribal insurgents in modern-day Afghanistan. Winston Churchill, then a young cavalry lieutenant, wrote a vivid account of what he saw during his first major campaign. The Story of the Malakand Field Force, published in 1898, was Churchill’s first book and, a hundred years later, is required reading for military commanders on the ground, both British and American.

In Churchill's First War, acclaimed author and foreign correspondent, Con Coughlin tells the story of that campaign, a story of high adventure and imperial success, which contains many lessons and warnings for today. Combining historical narrative, interviews with contemporary key players, and the journalist’s eye for great color and analysis, Churchill's First War affords us a rare insight into both the nineteenth-century "Great Game" and the twenty-first-century conflict that has raged longer than World War II.

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.

Praise For Churchill's First War

Churchill’s First War is shortlisted for the Paddy Power Political History Book of the Year Award 2014

“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

“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

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