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Customer Review

36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history, compulsive reading, 24 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Zulu (Paperback)
I bought this book because the Zulu War has long interested me (and there's very little out there about it), and also because I recognised the author from BBC's Time Commanders(!)
If you try to find out about the Zulu War from other sources, there is a lot written about Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift but practically nothing about what happened before or after. Saul David's book is therefore an extremely valuable contribution as it gives this in a thorough but digestible way.
The build up to the war is explained, in terms of the political and career machinations of several key individuals. At times it's difficult to keep track of everyone who was involved. The invasion plan is explained, and the narrative moves seamlessly from preparation, to execution, to disaster, to blame. A number of little-reported episodes are expanded on in a fascinating way.
The mid-to-end section seems to go at a much faster pace and it feels a little like Saul David was in a hurry to finish this book. The aftermath gets a very short summary and I was thirsting for more as I read the last page, only to find that the last 25% of the book's pages were assigned to Notes, References, Sources etc. I am prepared to trust that the book is the best-researched piece out there and for the private reader this serves no purpose. What would have been more helpful is better maps, as (at the strategic level) a number of locations are repeatedly referred to that don't appear on the very small map you get of kwaZulu Natal.
A final thought is that the book could have told a little more from the Zulu perspective - the narrative is firmly from the British point of view. I guess this is a limitation of source material but a slight feeling pervades that David is writing about 'us' vs 'them'. A fuller Zulu perspective would have added even greater value and originality.
These grumbles are very small and minor, however, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in the subject to buy this book. It's main strength is David's very readable style and his wealth of small detail that brings this very rich period to life.
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Initial post: 13 Jan 2009, 20:24:47 GMT
Robert, your not looking hard enough.
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