In a narrative based primarily on the personal correspondence of the youthful Winston Churchill, his family, and other contemporaries, interspersed with the mature Churchill's poignant reminiscences, his granddaughter provides a rare and moving look at the formative years of Britain's great wartime leader. The son of a preeminent MP and an American socialite, Winston was born at Blenheim Palace, his ancestral home. A shy, lonely boy with a speech impediment and delicate health who barely knew his famous father, Churchill spent his early years mostly in the company of his beloved nurse, Mrs. Everest (""It was to her I poured out all my many troubles""), and younger brother, Jack. When he was not yet eight, he was banished from this comfortable environment to boarding school at St. George's, where birch-wielding despots bestowed the refinements of a classical education on their charges. Sandys presents the boy's affecting letters home to his mother from this period in full childish scrawl, along with his report cards, drawings, and reminiscences from other schoolboys. Churchill was later transferred to a school in Brighton, where the propitious climate and the relative kindliness of the teachers did not result either in better academic performance or in improved health. Sandys show that, despite precocity in certain subjects, Churchill was a mediocre student and deeply unhappy youth who suffered from what in modern terms can only be viewed as parental neglect. After several failed attempts, he achieved entry into Sandhurst, the British military academy, as a cavalry officer. His father's premature death, which occurred as he graduated creditably from Sandhurst (Churchill had at last found his niche in the Army), deprived him of his dream of entering Parliament at his father's side but filled him with a determination to pursue his father's political aims and, more importantly, to make his own mark on life. Inspiring and engrossing.