Zulu Rising : The Epic Story of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, Paperback Book

Zulu Rising : The Epic Story of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


The battle of iSandlwana was the single most destructive incident in the 150-year history of the British colonisation of South Africa.

In one bloody day over 800 British troops, 500 of their allies and at least 2000 Zulus were killed in a staggering defeat for the British empire.

The consequences of the battle echoed brutally across the following decades as Britain took ruthless revenge on the Zulu people.

In Zulu Rising Ian Knight shows that the brutality of the battle was the result of an inevitable clash between two aggressive warrior traditions.

For the first time he gives full weight to the Zulu experience and explores the reality of the fighting through the eyes of men who took part on both sides, looking into the human heart of this savage conflict.

Based on new research, including previously unpublished material, Zulu oral history, and new archaeological evidence from the battlefield, this is the definitive account of a battle that has shaped the political fortunes of the Zulu people to this day.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: African history
  • ISBN: 9780330445931

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Great book, only disappointments being an occasional tendency to bog down in logistics, and there being only one rather cursory chapter devoted to Rorke's Drift, despite being mentioned in the book's subtitle. But a terriffic read nevertheless. I hadnt really understood previously how an army equipped only with spears could have defeated and destroyed the might of Britain's Imperial forces armed with modern rifles, cannon and cavalry, but Knight makes very clear the level of bungling, second-guessing, ego-tripping and sheer stupidity which led to this happening, not to mention the bravery and tactical skill of the Zulu themselves which the British severely underestimated. Top quality read.

Review by

Ian Knight has authored a plethora of books about the Zulu wars. This book shows his mastery of the subject and is an exhaustive study of the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, presenting the background, the key players on both sides and the action in minute details.The British failed to heed to old Roman lesson of always strongly fortifying the camp while fighting against tribes. A fortified camp manned by professionals can resist large numbers of blunt attackers. The Zulus achieved a Pyrrhic victory over the British that cost them too many casualties to sustain the fight. I wonder whether the British would have renewed the war if Rorke’s Drift had not happened. Its heroic defense offered enormous propaganda value while a Zulu incursion into British territory would have affected tiny numbers of settlers. Highly recommended.