Brutal Valour: The Tragedy of Isandlwana by James Mace
I just finished the Kindle Edition and have to say I enjoyed the book immensely. The Zulu War has been an interest of mine since the movies Zulu and Zulu Dawn came out many moons ago. I’ve read The Washing of the Spears by Morris twice and Ian Knight’s work with Ian Castle more than once because I war-game the period. I’m about to delve into Knight’s epic Zulu Rising. Mace gives credit at the end of the book to those who helped him with research including Knight.
I mention all that because it’s clear that Mace has done his homework. Time after time I was reminded of my previous research as Mace’s character’s personalize the happenings and incidents leading up and including the disaster at Isandlwana.
Obviously much of the dialogue is made up but I found quite believable and logical given whatever circumstance Mace was describing.
The book was a fun read but also a sobering read as he pitted Zulu Warrior against British Redcoat and one realizes that although the Zulu’s won at Isandlwana they took horrendous casualties that meant doom for the Zulu nation.
I’ve read a couple of Mace’s earlier works about the Roman soldier and enjoyed those as well. I think Mace continues to get better and better and I look forward to his sequel on Rorke’s Drift.
Is Zulu a popular film in the US? Almost everybody British who likes war movies has it at or near the top of their list of favourites, but I’ve always assumed that it was too British to be globally popular
That’s a hard question to answer because it depends. Most Americans have little interest in “war” films with some exceptions (Saving Private Ryan) and when it comes to war history of other nations many Americans could not even tell you the US was once a British colony (13 actually) or the US and GB were allies in WW1 and WW2. Soooooo, in the war game circles I’ve been the opposite is true and the two Zulu movies are very popular, esp the 1964 one with Michael Caine. There are quite a few wargamers interested in the Victorian period so Zulu and the Four Feathers are popular movies and as wargaming subjects. I blog some of our war games on Blogger under the blog name Last Man Club. I’m currently working on the Zulu War with a friend.
Thanks. I was talking about people who like war films rather than the general movie going public, whose tastes are not hugely different. Lists of greatest all time British movies probably include more war films than list of US ones, but only because war movies were more popular in the heyday of the British film industry than they are now. I am also a wargamer and will check out your wargaming blog.
Ah, that makes sense. I really could not say. In my immediate circle of history buffs, but not necessary wargamers I’d say yes they would be interested in British films like Zulu. That international effort. The Longest Day would be popular and who could not like Gunga Din? Thank you for your encouragement over the years. Means a lot to me coming from a scholar like you. What do you war-game? Miniatures or board or both? I do miniatures in our little club but PC war-games on my Mac these days. Slitherine over there in GB has got some great titles for Mac. I got back into miniature gaming after a 25 year absence. The periods I’ve re-established or working on are ACW, Victorian Colonial, DBA, AWI and a friend of mine and I are doing Waterloo in 1/72 for a 16′ by 4′ board. Lots of influence with he and I from early British gamers like Featherstone, Gilder and Charles Grant and Phil Barker.