With "British Infantryman versus Zulu Warrior", the third volume in the new "Combat"-series, it is clear that Osprey Publishing has a new "hit" series on their hands. A couple of years ago Osprey started the "Duel"-series. But that series focuses on the "hardware" side of warfare, with weapon-systems like ships, planes, tanks etc. facing off against each other. Now it's time for the "poor bloody infantry" to take center stage, as the "Combat"-series pits history's warriors against one another.
"British Infantryman versus Zulu Warrior" is written by Ian Knight. Ian Knight is a leading international expert on the Anglo-Zulu War and has written many books on the subject. His "Combat"-title provides, in 80 pages, a concise presentation of the development and training of the British soldier of the Victorian era and their fearsome foe, the assegai-wielding Zulu warrior, before switching to a narrative of the Zulu War itself. Ian Knight's account of the brief but savage Zulu war is accompanied with clear, detailed maps, color plates of the two different types of combatants involved in the fighting and split-screen artwork showing key moments from both sides' perspective. Many photographs enliven the expert analysis while Knight tells us how the Zulu War pitched well-equipped but complacent British soldiers into combat with the Zulu, one of history's finest fighting forces. Three major engagements are detailed, using first-hand accounts of these battles: the Zulu ambush at Nyezane; the shocking defeat and massacre of outmaneuvered British forces in savage close-quarter fighting at iSandlwana; and the British victory at Khambula.
The strength of the Osprey format is also its weakness: at 80 pages, there's no room for anything more than a "Reader's Digest"-type coverage of the topic, always leaving you with just a taste of what's to offer but not the full meal. This is compensated with an abundance of pictures, maps and full-color artwork you (usually) won't find in a regular history book.
For further reading I recommend the Osprey Campaign titles "Zulu War 1879", "Isandlwana 1879" and "Rorke's Drift 1879", all written by Ian Knight. For an extended, book-length look at the Zulu War, check out: "Zulu: The Heroism and Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879" by Saul David and "Zulu Rising" by Ian Knight. Or if you're more into watching movies: I highly recommend the war epics "Zulu" (1964), starring Michael Caine, and "Zulu Dawn" (1979), a prequel to "Zulu", starring Burt Lancaster and Peter O'Toole. Both are superb historical action movies, but also fairly accurate recounts of the above mentioned battles.
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