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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

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on 13 August 2017
Half way through this book, and find it easy to read, the author writing in a style which can keep the reader interested. Lots of pertinent detail about the Sudan, character sketches of the main players in this period of history, their physical appearance and personalities. I do indeed recommend this to all interested in late Victorian history, and the country's colonial years in Africa & the Near East.
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on 7 March 2017
Very detailed account of the last days of General Gordon in Sudan.
Sometimes the details obscure the overall picture and the strategies. As a result it is not an easy read.
Quite amazing descriptions of battles with almost person by person account of action.
Too many names made me confused and I wished for clearer explaination of the general situation.
A little more attention to editing would make some of the sentences clearer and less ambiguous.
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on 2 April 2017
A terrific history of Gordon and the Sudan campaign of the 1880s. Well researched, thorough, and best of all, it reads like a great adventure novel.
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on 18 October 2016
Very good
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on 23 July 2008
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.

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on 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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on 5 May 2007
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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on 12 December 2006
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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on 15 November 2005
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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on 6 June 2012
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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