Like Wolves on the Fold : The Defence of Rorke's Drift Paperback
Wednesday 22 January 1879 was one of the most dramatic days in the annals of military history.
In the morning, a modern British army was swept aside by the onset of a seemingly unstoppable host at Isandlwana.
Nearby, at a remote border outpost on the Buffalo River, a single company of the 24th Regiment and a few dozen recuperating hospital patients were passing another hot, monotonous day.
News of the disaster across the river came like a bolt from the blue.
Retreat was not an option. It seemed certain that the Rorke's Drift detachment would share the terrible fate of their comrades.
Colonel Snook brings the insights of a military professional to bear in this strikingly original account.
It is an extraordinary tale - a victory largely achieved by the sheer bloody-mindedness in adversity of the British infantryman, fighting at the remarkable odds of over thirty to one.
The heroics of all eleven VC winners are recounted in detail, and we are offered new insights into how the Zulu attack unfolded and how 150 men achieved their improbable victory. The author describes the remainder of the war, from the recovery of the lost Queen's Colour of the 24th to the climactic charge of the 17th Lancers at Ulundi.
We return to Isandlwana to consider culpability, and learn of the often tragic fates of many of the war's participants.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 320 pages, 32pp illustrations and 8 maps
- Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 30/06/2010
- Category: African history
- ISBN: 9781848325838
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Review by pierthinker
The defense of Rorke’s Drift by not more than 100 men against a Zulu army of several thousand warriors is a touchstone event in English history. It displays all the traits the English want to be seen to have: brave, calm underdogs using superior discipline and military know-how to defeat a much bigger enemy. A hit film in the 1960’s featuring a new young star straight from Swinging London, Michael Caine, didn’t hurt either.Snook has written a purely military history of the action and focuses on the single day and night of the battle. A brief preamble describes the lead-in to the battle following the major British defeat at Isandlwana. For all the flat reconstruction of the facts of the battle Snook has produced a very readable narrative that maintains the excitement and tension of the action very well. As a serving soldier Snook is very well able through his own admiration of what these soldiers did to show us that real military action, and real bravery, is nothing like the movies.If you want a book that explores a wider perspective than the specific action on the day of battle, or that takes an interest in the personalities, characters and their thoughts then avoid this. There is very little reported speech nor much blood-curdling description of how men fought and died.This is a book that provides excitement and tension through a matter-of-fact style that does describe one of the great heroic feats of modern warfare. Read it if only to learn how men react in the face of certain death and rejoice in how they become selfless brothers and quiet heroes.