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Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana

Great Battles

Ian F. W. Beckett



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Oxford University Press
18 November 2021
Series: Great Battles
This volume recounts the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, exploring how they were fought, how they have been remembered, and what they mean for us today.

The battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879, the first major battle in the Anglo-Zulu war, witnessed the worst single day's loss of British troops between the battle of Waterloo in 1815 and the opening campaignns of the First World War in August 1914. Moreover, decisive defeat at the hands of the Zulu came as an immense shock to a Victorian public that had become used to easy victories over less technologically advanced indigenous foes in an expanding empire.

The successful defence of Rorke's Drift, which immediately followed the encounter at Isandlwana (and for which 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded), averted military disaster and went some way to restore wounded British pride, but the sobering memory of defeat at Isandlwana lingered for many years, while the legendary tale of the defence of Rorke's Drift was reawakened for a new generation in the epic 1964 film Zulu, starring Michael Caine.

In this new volume in the Great Battles series, Ian F. W. Beckett tells the story of both battles, investigating not only their immediate military significance but also providing the first overarching account of their continuing cultural impact and legacy in the years since 1879, not just in Britain but also from the once largely inaccessible and overlooked Zulu perspective.
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 135mm,  Spine: 19mm
Weight:   280g
ISBN:   9780198794134
ISBN 10:   0198794134
Series:   Great Battles
Pages:   256
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Professor Ian F. W. Beckett retired as Professor of Military History at the University of Kent in 2015. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is internationally known for his work on the history of the British Army in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and on the First World War. Previously, he held chairs in both the US and the UK, including as Major General Matthew C Horner Distinguished Professor of Military Theory at the US Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia. He was Chairman of the Council of the UK Army Records Society from 2001 to 2014.

Reviews for Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana: Great Battles

A thorough, authoritative and perceptive account. * Lawrence James, The Times * Professor Beckett's concise account of these twin actions is a model of readable military history. * Allan Mallinson, The Spectator * [A] meticulously researched book. * Jules Stewart, Military History Matters * A very balanced book in its re-evaluation of the battles ... quite thought-provoking and very readable ... highly recommended. * Chris May, Battlefield * Professor Beckett's book brings alive the many aspects of the Zulu War and its consequences. In his splendid new study of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, historian Ian Beckett [..] succeeds in placing these battles that took place at the outset of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 into their broader imperial context, references the misinformation associated with each conflict, and examines the role of popular culture in broadening the publics interest in these intercultural encounters. * Small Wars & Insurgencies *

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