The remarkable, and often touching, friendship between Winston Churchill and Jan Smuts is a rich study in contrasts. In youth they occupied very different worlds: Churchill, the rambunctious and thrusting young aristocrat; Smuts, the aesthetic, philosophical Cape farm boy who would go on to Cambridge. Brought together first as enemies in the Anglo-Boer War, and later as allies in the First World War, the men forged a friendship which spanned the first half of the twentieth century and endured until Smuts’s death in 1950.
Richard Steyn, author of Jan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness, examines this close friendship through two world wars and the intervening years, drawing on a maze of archival and secondary sources including letters, telegrams and the voluminous books written about both men.
This is a fascinating account of two remarkable men in war and peace: one the leader of the Empire, the other the leader of a small fractious member of that Empire who nevertheless rose to global prominence.
About Richard Steyn
Richard Steyn, a graduate of Stellenbosch University, practised as a lawyer before switching to journalism. He edited the Natal Witness in Pietermaritzburg from 1975-90, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1985/86, and editor in chief of The Star from 1990-95. He served as Standard Bank’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications from 1996-2001, before returning to writing, book reviewing and publishing.
While there are many substantial biographies of Churchill, and all manner of books about the Second World War, The Friendship provides a compact and lucid account of the intertwined careers of two remarkable leaders, as well as a new slant on events we often think we know well. Reader’s report