Daring All Things is a unique and extraordinary autobiography, which was published for the first time 55 years after its completion (shortly before The Rev George Kendall died suddenly in 1961, aged 79). The book is the life story of a man born into a working-class rural Yorkshire childhood in the late Victorian era, who through self-education, piety, ambition and sheer hard graft projected himself onto the then British Empire's biggest stages.
Kendall chose the life of a primitive Methodist minister and, initiated through First World War duty, also pursued a dual career as a military chaplain, which lasted 30 years in war and peace. Using his Christian faith, humour and straight talking, Kendall became a confidante to British royalty, prime ministers and religious leaders throughout the first half of the 20th century. Using his initiative, bravery and patriotism, he became both participant and eyewitness at many of the epoch-making moments during the most intense period of the United Kingdom's and Ireland's histories: Two World Wars, the rise of women's rights, the rise of working people's rights, the rise of Sinn Féin, the creation of the NHS and the welfare state and the development of the modern police and prison systems were all within his compass. The Rev Kendall always ensured that a keen sense of morality - both public and private - was always to the fore. However, he was no staid clergyman; he delighted in life and its colourful characters. As one of the last of the great polymaths, Kendall was able to advise and educate both in private and public arenas. Speakers Corner, which he described as 'the greatest forum in the world', became his open-air pulpit - and he was its most well-loved speaker by the 1930s and through the Second World War, when he again served as a military chaplain in London. By the final years of his life, Kendall was the country's most war-experienced chaplain - having spent eight years on the front lines in four different countries and serving a further three years post-First World War with the first British Army on the Rhine. In 1920, he was given the responsibility of being in charge of the exhumation of the battlefields of Belgium and France, and building the war cemeteries we know today. His work there culminated in the highly secretive process to select the body that became 'The Unknown Warrior' - and he ensured his safe passage to England, to be buried at Westminster Abbey.
George Kendall's life was shrouded in mystery - much of it unrecorded formally. Daring All Things finally reveals the enormity of his experience and provides new historical information that will lead to academic revision of many of the events he lived through. Ultimately, the purpose of the book is to explain in the clearest of terms The Rev Kendall's belief in divine providence in both his - and anyone's - life who believes in it; this has been understood as 'God's Hand' at work on Earth. If this most remarkable of accounts doesn't make you a believer, nothing will. In order to promote the primacy of Kendall's testimony, the modern-day equivalents of the individual national leaders he met and worked with provide forewords to each chapter. Each reflect on the man they encounter - and the cumulative effect is both a memorial and reassurance that hats might change, climates change and priorities change, but the underlying nature of the British establishment remains (if a little frayed) in modern times. Hope is, in deed, alive.
An extraordinary man, celebrated to absolute perfection.
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