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The If Man: Dr Leander Starr Jameson, the Inspiration for Kipling's Masterpiece [Paperback]

Chris Ash
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Jun 2012
A rollicking biography of Dr Leander Starr Jameson; hero, rogue and rascal of Empire and the man who inspired Kipling to write his masterpiece, If The famous poem, If by Rudyard Kipling, is said to be based on the life of Jameson, and the suffering he endured as a result of the 1896 raid that he and his Rhodesian and Bechuanaland policemen carried out on Paul Kruger s Transvaal Republic. In this engaging biography in the style of Wilbur Smith-meets-Louis l Amour, Ash recounts the life of this colonial statesman known as Dr Jim or simply The Doctor . He was an enigmatic man. When he died The Times estimated that his astonishing personal sway over his followers was equalled only by that of Parnell, the Irish patriot. Although probably most known for his role in The Jameson Raid , Jameson still had a successful political life. He died on 26 November 1917 in London. His body was laid in a vault at Kensal Green Cemetery where it remained until the end of the First World War. Ian Colvin (1923) writes that Jameson s body was then ... carried to Rhodesia and on 22 May 1920, laid in a grave cut in the granite on the top of the mountain which Rhodes had called The View of the World , close beside the grave of his friend.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Helion and Company (11 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907677747
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907677748
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 336,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Dr Jameson was a very remarkable man - an unashamed creator and risk-taker who understood the true meaning of loyalty - and in Chris Ash he has found his ideal biographer. --Andrew Roberts, bestselling author of The History of the English-speaking Peoples and The Storm of War

The book is much more than a biography - there is extensive history of southern Africa to be gleaned here... In all, Jameson's life was so extraordinary it could read like a Wilbur Smith novel, which is no bad thing. It may be hard to view Jameson as a hero in these politically correct times, but Chris has done a great job in making his work an entertaining read and I heartily recommend it. --Geoffrey Hay, The Shetland Times

About the Author

A British Colonial and ex-Gordon Highlander, Chris Ash has spent much of his life in Africa, usually drilling for oil in the least pleasant places. Blessed with a love of adventure, Chris drove his Land Rover from London to Cape Town and decided to stay when he was 24. His passion for Victorian history was sparked by watching Zulu and Breaker Morrant as a child, and stoked by a drunken argument with an irate Afrikaner in Pietersburg.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read. 15 Oct 2012
By GaryM
Chris Ash tells this tale beautifully, a very interesting man who led a very gung-Ho lifestyle, I will recommend this book to all my friends.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The bad boy from Southern Africa 20 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dr Jameson worked alongside Cecil Rhodes in opening up parts of Southern Africa. He was a true colonial and anti the Boers. His attempt at organising a revolt against them failed and as a result he had to return to England where he was tried and convicted. Whilts in England, Marcone demonstrated Radiotelegraphy to him with one end of the link in what is now my garden which is why I am inteested in him. This book appears to paint a rose timted view of the man
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4.0 out of 5 stars Starr Jameson 25 Feb 2013
By simon
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book reasonably well written about parts of the life of a giant in Southern African history.I realise that the underlying subject was Rudyard Kipling's poem "If", But I do think a bit more information about the life of Starr Jameson would have been appropriate.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book on early South African and Rhodesian history. 12 Aug 2012
By Stranger in the Land - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have not yet completed reading this book but each time I get to read it I am captivated by the story of my early South African roots.
The author does a good job of bringing to light the violence of the tribes in South Africa and Rhodesia, which we sometimes overlook in the guilt we carry as 'white' South Africans who grew up during the 'apartheid' regime. Very interesting reading if you enjoy history.
The poem 'If' by Rudyard Kipling, has always been one of my favorite. It loses some of its mystique now knowing it was written about Dr Jameson.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Old West in South Africa 22 May 2014
By Bud O'Baer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although I'm not a fan of the memory of the British Empire, I must admit that Chris Ash's biography of Dr. Jameson is a very entertaining read. Boers, Zulus, redcoats, diamonds and lion hunters are all rolled into one big ball in this book. Ash's muscular no-holds-barred approach is extremely refreshing in this limp-wrist 21st century.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read 16 Feb 2014
By Todd - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really have enjoyed The If Man. The author is witty and yet thorough in his research. You get the truth and not some revisionist mishmash.
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensational!!! 4 Feb 2014
By Tony Bader - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Apart from being a real 'Ripping Yarn', this fascinating books paints an intriguing panorama of a time long lost, where men were men - and allowed to be men - and one lived or died on one's own merit.

Mr Ash has laid out his captivating tapestry stitch by stich. weaving a tale that is bluntly but elegantly stated, entertaining, factual, historically accurate and thoroughly unapologetic. Imagine Wilbur Smith without the obligatory arm candy, where the characters are not all giants of industry, and are in fact real people, and you can imagine the hypnotic cadence of this wonderful tome.

Bravo Mr Ash.
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Leander Starr Jameson and the expansion of the British Empire in southern Africa 29 Jan 2013
By Jake Iselin - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have ever been moved by the words of Rudyard Kipling's poem, 'If' ("If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
 If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you..."), then you owe it to yourself to learn about the man whose life inspired one of the most famous poems in the English language.

It is impossible not to get swept away by the adventures and accomplishments of Dr. Leander Starr Jameson in Christopher Ash's biography of the doctor, turned pioneer, turned statesman, 'The If Man!' Ash not only lays out the events in the life of this unlikely figure who helped define the role of the British Empire in southern Africa, but he brings the reader through the emotional highs and lows that defined his life. This is not just an important and interesting biography, it is also as inspiring as any adventure novel that I have ever read, and as informative as any history book, but a whole lot more exciting! The reader will come away with a better understanding of one of history's most misrepresented figures, how southern Africa was developed, and an understanding that it was the individuals on the ground who shaped the British Empire, not the politicians in Great Britain.

The true value of this book comes to light in the straightforward, tell it how it happened, writing style that Ash uses. There are many events in this book that today's readers will find objectionable, but it is truly a breath of fresh air to see them researched and documented in the way that Ash has done, rather than revised to fit a conservative or liberal agenda, which has truly become the norm for today's historians. This straightforward writing style is very similar to the "no nonsense" approach that Dr. Jameson took in his life, which makes Christopher Ash an ideal biographer to tell the Doctor's story.
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