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Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana (ePub)

22nd January 1879: Minute by Minute

Boer/Zulu War Greenhill eBooks Pre WWI Victorian Era Military 19th Century

By Chris Peers
Greenhill Books
File Size: 9.9 MB (.epub)
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781784385354
eBook Released: 13th May 2021

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The Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879 was one of the most dramatic episodes in military history. In the morning, 20,000 Zulus overwhelmed the British invading force in one of the greatest disasters ever to befall a British army.

Later the same day, a Zulu force of around 3,000 warriors turned their attention to a small outpost at Rorke’s Drift defended by around 150 British and Imperial troops. The British victory that ensued – against remarkable odds – would go down as one of the most heroic actions of all time.

In this thrilling blow-by-blow account, Chris Peers draws on first-hand testimonies from both sides to piece together the course of the battles as they unfolded. Along the way, he exposes many of the Victorian myths to reveal great acts of bravery as well as cases of cowardice and incompetence. A brief analysis of the aftermath of the battle and notes on the later careers of the key participants completes this gripping exposé of this legendary encounter.

Anyone interested in this Famous Victorian campaign and would like to be an authority, then this is the book to get him there! Awarded five well earned stars.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Isandlwana was a battle that suffered the fate of other battles against forces considered "inferior" from a military point of view. The division of forces certainly did not help as it did for Custer against the Sioux (Little Big Horn 1876) and for the Royal Italian Army in 1896 at Adua against the Ethiopians. The chronology hour by hour, which however also contains reflections and is in-depth, is a way to follow this battle in a clear and interesting way. Peers's book is therefore extremely valid and useful for fully understanding the unfolding of those two events, so different as an outcome and so important for the British Empire in South Africa.

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On The Old Barbed Wire

The story of the defence of Rorke's Drift has long been a favourite of mine in the annals of British military history, and the film ZULU, with Stanley Baker and Michael Caine, is one of the finest historical action movies of all time. Chris Peers's book is a mine of information about the small band of men, who stepped up to the mark and earned their Victoria Crosses. If you wanted to be pedantic, the subtitle should say "selected minute by selected minute", because it isn't a continuous narrative, but the you have to accept that they are accurate timings because of their providence. This is a valuable addition to the literature of Rorke's Drift, and I have no hesitation in selecting it as my nonfiction book of the month.

Books Monthly

Chris Peers provides a superb chronological account of the disastrous British defeat at Isandlwana and the heroic defense of Rorke's Drift...contains perfectly placed maps and photographs of the terrain and buildings just when the reader needs them the most.

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Military History Online

This an outstanding book which as well as being entertaining, also brings insight and clarity to the understanding of a battle which has left an enduring legacy not only for those directly involved but also for the generations that followed. Recommended without reservation.

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Phil Curme

Review by Ashley Holt

This is a fantastic idea for the study of conflicts that are often analysed in isolation from each other, but this minute by minute account allows the reader to picture the broader issues from both the British and Zulu sides. The wealth of first-hand testimonies bring to life the triumphs and tragedies that make these battles so memorable. A very useful book for a battlefield tour, for historians of these times and wargamers who seek a more accurate context.

The Hoplite Association

The author has offered an excellent narrative history of the events concerning the two actions at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, bringing clarity to the sequence of events and highlighting the command decisions that produced the very different outcomes. He necessarily brings the characters of participants into question without being presumptive and overall it is a very good read supported by good maps and images.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
 Chris Peers

About Chris Peers

Chris Peers is a leading expert on African colonial warfare and has written widely on the subject. His books include The African Wars: Warriors and Soldiers of the Colonial Campaigns and Warrior Peoples of East Africa 1840–1900. He has also contributed many articles to military history, wargaming and family history magazines. He has an MA in History from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and has travelled extensively in Africa.

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