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Young Churchill

One day Winston Churchill's father paid a "formal visit" to inspect his son's collection of toy soldiers:

"All the troops were arranged in the correct formation of attack," Churchill recalled. "He spent twenty minutes studying the scene -- which was really impressive -- with a keen eye and captivating smile. At the end he asked me if I would like to go into the Army, so I said 'yes' at once: and immediately I was taken at my word.

"For years I thought my father with his experience and flair had discerned in me the qualities of military genius. But I was told later that he had only come to the conclusion that I was not clever enough to go to the Bar."

["The toy soldiers turned the current of my life," Churchill said. "Henceforward all my education was directed to passing into Sandhurst [military college]." Perhaps his father was right. Winston (who had once refused to study mathematics, Greek, and Latin, and been placed in the lowest, remedial reading class for "slow" boys) failed his entrance exams -- twice.]

[Writing in August 1893 to Winston's grandmother (the dowager Duchess of Marlborough), Churchill's father said he lacked "cleverness, knowledge and any capacity for settled work. He has a great talent for show-off, exaggeration and make-believe."]

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