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In the Shadow of Isandlwana (Hardback)

The Life and Times of General Lord Chelmsford and his Disaster in Zululand

Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: 19th Century Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: Anglo-Zulu War Military > Pre-WWI > Anglo-Zulu Wars

By John Laband
Greenhill Books
Pages: 272
ISBN: 9781784387709
Published: 11th July 2023



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“Lord Chelmsford is not a bad man. He is industrious and conscientious so far as his lights guide him. But nature has refused to him the qualities of a great captain. He has suffered much and is entitled to certain commiseration.” – Thomas Gibson Bowles, Vanity Fair

General Lord Chelmsford’s military career took him around the world; he served in the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny and the Abyssinian Expedition, before commanding the British invasion of the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa.

In January 1879, disaster struck when Chelmsford divided his forces at Isandlwana in the face of the enemy and the Zulu overwhelmed his camp, killing more than 1,300 of its defenders. Such a defeat was almost unprecedented in a Victorian colonial campaign. Despite Chelmsford's later victories at Gingindlovu and Ulundi, he was humiliatingly relieved of his command. His responsibility for Isandlwana dogged him for the rest of his days, and he would forever be associated with this historic defeat.

In this comprehensive new biography, Anglo-Zulu War specialist John Laband, explores the personal character and military career of Lord Chelmsford, providing a well-rounded, well-balanced and well-informed picture of this complex military figure.

“This is a remarkable biography reflecting many years of painstaking and detailed worldwide research by Professor John Laband…. This biography is complex and thorough but remarkably easy reading. It fascinatingly flows through detail and describes wars and battles in an enthralling style; it is a comprehensive undertaking but east to read. I found it hard to put down.”

Adrian Greaves, Victorian Military Society Journal

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A tragic story of an individual who through bad luck/errors led to at the time of the event one of the worst losses of British troops. He overcame this tragedy to go on and succeed in his campaign against the Zulu tribes in Africa. The story is well told and points out some of the biggest issues with the British forces - achieving rank via a monetary payment rather than merit. The author leaves it up to the reader to determine if the harsh criticism he was forced to endure the remainder of his life was warranted or not. I found this book to be an excellent read, informative and worthwhile.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

This book looks beyond the ill-fated events of Isandlwana to truly explore the depths of who Lord Chelmsford actually was. History has often overlooked his successful career in favor of highlighting the massive blunder that would forever be associated with him. I always enjoy books that attempt to explore the whole picture of a person, place, or event.

NetGalley, Spencer Wright
 John Laband

About John Laband

John Laband is Professor Emeritus of History at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, England, and a Research Associate at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. His books include The Rise and Full of the Zulu Nation (1997); The Atlas of the Later Zulu Wars (2002); The Transvaal Rebellion: The First Boer War (2005); Kingdom in Crisis: the Zulu Response to the British Invasion of 1879 (2007); the Historical Dictionary of the Zulu Wars (2009; Zulu Warriors: The Battle for the South African Frontier (2014); and The Eight Zulu Kings (2018).

Perfect Partner

The Fall of Rorke's Drift An Alternate History of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 (Hardback)

'John Laband has long been the accepted authority on Anglo-Zulu War studies and his new work, The Fall of Rorke’s Drift, is proof of his expertise.' - Dr Adrian Greaves The defence of Rorke’s Drift inspired Victorian Britain and has featured in a classic movie and numerous historical works – it is still remembered as an iconic British triumph in adversity. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the successful defenders. But what if the Zulus had defeated the British at Rorke’s Drift? Would the Zulus have gone on to invade and devastate Natal? How would Britain’s other potential adversaries…

By John Laband, Ian Knight

Click here to buy both titles for £44.99
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