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Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure Paperback – 2 Nov 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (2 Nov. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140258558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140258554
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'A staggering achievement. Asher has delivered a scintillating tale of a period of history that deserves to be remembered' -- Guardian

'It is hard to see how this bloody conflict could be more conclusively and convincingly told' -- Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times

'This is the most complete picture of the Sudanese campaigns that has yet been published . . . a vigorous and engrossing narrative' -- Philip Ziegler, Telegraph

About the Author

Michael Asher is one of Britain's most prominent desert explorers. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has won the Ness Award of the RGS and the Mungo Park Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. He is the author of eight books including the acclaimed Thesiger, Lawrence and The Real Story of Bravo Two Zero. He now lives in Nairobi in Kenya.

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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Nov. 2005
Format: Hardcover
There have been quite a few books written on the subject of the British adventure in the Sudan in the closing years of the last century. None of them captures the atmosphere like Michael Asher's book KHARTOUM. This is probably because Asher lived in the Sudan for ten years, a lot of the time actually with the nomads who formed the Mahdi's army 100 years earlier, but whose way of life was unchanged.
When Wolseley's Camel-Corps marches across the desert to do battle with the dervishes, you can almost taste the dust and smell the camels. His description of the incredible clash between the British soldiers and the Mahdi's forces at Abu Klea was so moving, with amazing courage on both sides, that I read it with tears in my eyes.
Asher has his heroes - Kitchener, who spoke fluent Arabic and Turkish, who started life as an Intelligence Officer spying behind enemy lines disguised as an Arab, and who became Sirdar of the Egyptian Army; Gordon, a mystic masquerading as a soldier, who followed his inner convictions rather than his orders; Sir Evelyn Baring, an honest man who was genuinely trying to get a better deal for the Egyptian peasants; Winston Churchill, the cheeky cavalry subaltern who took part in the last regimental cavalry charge ever made. He also has his villains: the brave but incompetent Burnaby, the inefficient Buller, the society navy officer Beresford, obsessed with his Gardner machine-gun. But Asher's true heroes are the ordinary soldiers on both sides whose guts and dogged determination seem, in retrospect, almost unbelievable.
This is a stunning story, told with the panache and detail of an epic novel, but all the better for being true. Read it!
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Emilio Mestiga on 23 May 2006
Format: Hardcover
What makes Michael Asher's book superior to all the other books covering the British military experience in the Sudan at the end of the 19th Century is his knowledge of the Sudanese side of the conflict. He is able, therefore, to paint a much more complete picture of both sides of the war where previous authors have tended to stick to the European sources and have lacked the first hand experience of the Sudan itself and its many, varied tribes.

Asher has a slightly unusual (but convincingly argued) take on many of the personalities of the story, especially senior British military figures. For instance, he is very critical of Fred Burnaby and Redvers Buller but has a high opinion of Charles Wilson who was made the scapegoat for the failure to break the siege of Khartoum. Again this is an example of Asher's own professional experience allowing him to sidestep the contemporary prejudice for and against these men - Asher served in both the Paras and the SAS and clearly has little time for the amateurish, if colourful, attitudes of many Victorian officers.

Written in a gripping style and about as complete an account as you could hope to find Khartoum cannot be recommended too highly for readers interested in 19th Century history.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By D. Jowett on 12 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
I was engrossed with this book from cover to cover. I have read many other versions of this particular part of Britain's Imperial History but none have left me so excited. It was a 'don't want to put it down' book of the best type. The research was so thorough that the descriptions of the battles felt more like an eye witness account, the sort that might be returned by one of today's embedded journalsts. I agree with your earlier reviewer that Kitchener emerges with far more credit than does Gordon from this book, but what about Garnet Wolseley, he doesn't seem to emerge with his reputation intact either. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in this fascinating period of our country's history.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By j_mcguire1970 on 23 July 2008
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up by accident in King's Cross when my train was delayed and boy, am I glad I did. My only real knowledge of the subject prior to reading this was from the four feathers, young winston and khartoum movies, and a few AWFUL pro victorian accounts. As a novelist myself, it's inspired me to set my next book in this campaign.

Now, the book itself is both entertaining and informative and covers all 3 angles, sudanese, turco-egyptian and british.The way the author goes from the easy mahdist victory over Hicks's terrified egyptians at shaykan , to the slaughter of omdurman , via the charles gordon saga, makes this my book of the year.

particular praise to the author for his accurate depiction of the whole 'Billy Hicks' episode and the weaknesses of egypt's soldiers without british help.

outstanding.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By S. R. Westmoreland on 5 May 2007
Format: Paperback
Asher has provided a fast paced, interesting take on the great Gordon saga. His contempt for the higher echelons the British Army echoes is strong again this book - along with his others. The book covers the start of the Mahdi and finishes with the funeral service held after Omdurman.

It was good to read a book where Gordon is held as an example and a hero rather than a delusional drunkard. It has become popular to attack the image of Gordon, who in all fairness was thoroughly stuffed by his own side from the start.

Asher also defends Wilson quite strongly saying he was unfairly held accountable for Wolsey's failings. Asher also provides a good account on the 'who was to blame' question.

All in all a great read with some terrific battle descriptions.
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