Hal Klepak on Churchill in Cuba

November 26, 2015


Hal Klepak, Latin American expert, Professor Emeritus at RMC, security analyst, author of Raúl Castro and Cuba: A Military History, among other works, married his military background, his Cuban residency, Spanish fluency, and love of Churchill together in his ground-breaking book Churchill Comes of Age: Cuba 1895.

With all that has been written about Churchill, it is remarkable that Churchill Comes of Age is actually the first study of Churchill’s first, and formative, trip as a journalist in the Spanish-American War. Much attention has, of course, been focussed on Churchill in the Boer War (1900), and even his prior experiences in the Sudan (1898) and the North-West Indian Frontier (now Pakistan) (1897) but not many appreciate that his Cuban adventure antedates all of those, and it has, until Dr. Klepak’s work, been essentially unknown, even in the great biographies of the Great Man.

Hal Klepak regaled Churchillians in May at the Churchill Conference at Blenheim Palace (before the book was even available to the audience). He did the same for Ottawa Churchillians in November 26, 2015 at Earnscliffe, the Residence of the British High Commissioner. It is no exaggeration to say that Hal enthralled his Ottawa audience with hitherto unknown stories of that first trip to Cuba. Hal even corrected the long-believed date of Churchill’s undergoing hostile bullets shot in his direction.

Glen Hartle, who accompanied Hal Klepak around Cuba and took beautiful photographs of the places Churchill visited in 1895, many of which remain intact, as they were 120 years before, was present with a number of his photographs.