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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Feel You're There
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...
Published on 15 Nov. 2005

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10 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Over-enthusiastic account of the Empire's bloodiest campaign
Michael Asher, ex-Parachute regiment and SAS, has written a vivid account of the Sudan campaigns of 1883-98. In 1883, at Shaykan, Sudanese forces killed 11,000 Egyptian troops under British command. Asher calls this defeat a massacre.

The victory meant that the Mahdist state in Sudan became `the first modern Islamic realm, and the only African nation ever to...
Published on 12 Sept. 2008 by William Podmore


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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Feel You're There, 15 Nov. 2005
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on the Sudan campaigns by far, 23 May 2006
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A very modern view of the battle for Khartoum, 12 Dec. 2006
By 
D. Jowett (Northumberland. England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure (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
5.0 out of 5 stars simply awesome, 23 July 2008
This review is from: Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure (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
5.0 out of 5 stars From another era, 5 May 2007
This review is from: Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Last Swashbuckling Victorian Adventure, 6 Jun. 2012
By 
A. R. Krantz (london) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure (Paperback)
Though this book has been criticised for not containing a large amount of technical detail, it is I think a very entertaining and informative read. I never read pre-WW1 history normally, but decided to give this a go and was very impressed.

It accounts the famous rise of the Mahdi and how that took place, the infamous fall of Gordon and Khartoum and then finally the resurgence of the British under the new leadership of Kitchener.

The book to me demonstrated above all the famous phrase said of british soldiers which is "lions fighting for donkeys", the ineptitude of the british commanders in this defeat and eventually victory many years later, was at times laughable, with perfectly capable men like Kitchener overlooked due to the "class" system. Sadly this style of leadership choice perpetuated right through to the First World War, causing many casualties.

If you want a really interesting, exciting and readable final account on victorian and colonial adventure and want to witness the pivotal moment when modern military warfare tasted first blood in the British army then you really should read this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars deserts, dervishes & drama, 29 April 2013
By 
M. Baerends - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure (Paperback)
Absolutely captivating account from the failed intervention in the Sudan in the early 1880s (ending in the epic demise of Gordon after the failure of his 'relief') to Kitchener's conquest just before the turn of the century, in which young Winston Churchill played a microscopic role as well.
The descriptions of the various battles are really great, and not just because of Asher's knowledge of contemporary weaponry (educating the reader on the fine points of difference between the Martini-Henry and the Lee-Metford). His descriptions of desert sunrises at the start of pretty much every battle are almost as good as those of the battle itself. This is a true pageturner.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Schoolboy Adventure, 15 April 2007
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This review is from: Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure (Paperback)
Michael Asher has produced an astounding account of British involvement in the Sudan at the end of the 19th century.

The book, which is lively and well paced covers the rise of the Mad Mahdi, the fall of General Gordon, the relief expeditions to save him as well as Kitchener's retaking of the Sudan culminating in the Battle of Omdurmann and the last cavalry charge in British history (read the book, and you will understand why!). The book is written with fascinating insights and displays Asher's unique ability to base his books on a combination of archive material as well as physical presence (i.e. having travelled extensively in Sudan and having actually lived with the Bedou for five years).

Even if this is not "your thing", Khartoum deserves a chance. It works well as a holiday read, airport read and long winter night read and is easily accessible. One of the best books I read in 2006.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, 27 July 2012
This review is from: Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure (Paperback)
This was a fantastic read and I couldn't put it down from the early beginnings of what most seemed a pointless piece of empire to the heroism of Hicks, Baker, Gordon and finally Kitchener with input from Queen Victoria herself and the struggles of parliament that lost the liberals their government. It details the lengths the British went to to put down the religious usurper in the building of a railway they said couldn't be done. You gain insight to the mid-set of the characters of the time from the ordinary Tommy being dying and wounded in such atrocious ways but never leaving their comrades side too the charismatic and often blindly ignorant Burnaby (my favourite character) to the sometimes estranged hero of the Boxer Revolution Gordon who wouldn't leave the people of Khartoum to their fate alone dying as a true British officer would holding out till the end with a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other and finally a look into Britain's hero of the hour who gave up a easy post and leave to save a man of honour whilst learning underneath you see his tendencies in being blunt cold and a lacking of social manners, Kitchener was a fantastic man, speaking fluent Turkish and Arabic and was sadly lost in 1916 on route by sea to Russia.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, informative, inspiring, 12 Jun. 2012
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I borrowed this book from our local library a couple of years ago and, after reading it, ended up purchasing a hardback version. I could not put this book down easily and lost a lot of sleep as a result!

Michael Asher's respect for all sides in this campaign shines through his writing. His vivid descriptions brought into sharp focus the bravery, courage, ingenuity, fortitude and loyalty of men; officers, ranks and tribesmen. The author's knowledge and cultural understanding of this, often misunderstood, part of the world is enlightening.

Books such as this should be compulsory reading for politicians in the hope that history would inform their opinions and decisions.

This is not a stuffy, academical account, but, one which transports the reader and places them firmly in the heart of the campaign. Yes, you can almost "taste the dust". This story has inspired me to read much more about Kitchener and has generally rekindled my interest in history.

As far as I am concerned this is the best book I have ever read. Five stars are not enough!

Well done Michael Asher. May you carry on educating the less aware.
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Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure
Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure by Michael Asher (Paperback - 2 Nov. 2006)
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