Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Busy - Catching Up On My Reading

The Olde Vermonter found my copy of this book in the family archives not too long ago. Published in 1965, I think the last time I read it was 'round about 1970ish.

A superb book, it covers the period just before the rise of Shaka up to the Anglo-Zulu Wars of the late 19th Century. (If you've seen the movies Zulu Dawn and Zulu, this book will be an eye opener. Hollywood takes an excellent tale and puts their own spin on it. But we wouldn't know anything about that now, would we?)

I give it four and a half stars out of five. But only if you're seriously into history. As I am.
In 1879, armed only with their spears, their rawhide shields, and their incredible courage, the Zulus challenged the might of Victorian England and, initially, inflicted on the British the worst defeat a modern army has ever suffered at the hands of men without guns. This definitive account of the rise of the Zulu nation under the great ruler Shaka and its fall under Cetshwayo has been acclaimed for its scholarship, its monumental range, and its spellbinding readability. The story is studded with tales of drama and heroism: the Battle of Isandhlwana, where the Zulu army wiped out the major British column; and Rorke's Drift, where a handful of British troops beat off thousands of Zulu warriors and won eleven Victoria Crosses. - Amazon
So that's what I'm up to today.

Oh, and hanging shelves, The Missus Herself has a new home improvement project in which I am involved.


No, really...

This helped get me in the mood...


  1. If I were writing a synopsis for Amazon, I might think about reading what I wrote out loud before I actually published said synopsis.

    1. I was going to edit that bit, then asked myself, "Why should I?" I got a giggle out of it. Perhaps the readers would too.

      I was going to add my own pithy remark, but I try to keep this place "family friendly" as much as possible.

      I admit I was giggling like an adolescent school boy at that last sentence.

  2. it was a good book and followed rapidly by Wilbur Smith's books on the era and the area.

    1. I was ignorant of Mr. Smith's work until I read your comment, Cap'n. Now it appears I need to add some more books to my "To Read" list.

      Starting with "When the Lion Feeds" - of course.

    2. As you like. I started a long time ago with the first ones from before that one. Here's the review of the series from Amazon.

      "The Angels Weep" functions as the closer to the Ballantyne Family series begun with "A Falcon Flies" and "Men of Men." Don't read this before having read these first two. There's another book starring a Ballantyne relation that follows this (and the recent "Triumph of the Sun" an afterthought), but it's dispensible and adds nothing to the arc of these three books.

      This is a satisfying closer to the saga-- it tells the story of the birth of Rhodesia, and its death. It's a very bloody tale of black against white-- for those who want a good notion of the historical roots of Zimbabwe, these three books can't be beat. Smith is sometimes accused of racism and sexism, but he's telling a story where these issues can't be ignored, and he does a reasonable job of representing both viewpoints, invader and invaded, black and white, winners and losers. He's clumsy with the romance, but excellent with the battles and the reasons behind them. Worth tracking down.

      He wrote a series of books with these that encompassed life and death and country and patria. It's been long ages since I read them but I remember them.

    3. I think I will follow your recommendations. That particular bit of history (Rhodesia and Zimbabwe) is something I am sadly ignorant of. I remember hearing of those times. Now might be a good a time as any to read up on that subject. Mr. Smith's work seems a good place to start.

      Thanks Cap'n!


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