Words by Ron Lock, posted by Captain Kirk
For those readers who have seen the films Zulu and Zulu Dawn, two of Britain’s most popular movies, and have devoured the plethora of writing on one of the most colourful and dramatic conflicts in British military history, but are unlikely to fulfill a lifetime ambition to tread the haunting battlefields of kwaZulu-Natal, Penny Howcroft’s trilogy “The Zulu Kings” is likely to be the best bet to transport you to Isandlwana, Rorkes Drift and the rolling hills of Zululand.
Much of the written word on the Anglo-Zulu War, although exciting enough, is trussed to dour historical facts by their authors who fear that a dollop of robust descriptive writing will discredit their work in the eyes of fellow academics. Not so, Howcroft’s book. Although meticulously researched, it is to a degree a work of both fact and fiction, giving the author the descriptive freedom of a novelist. Consequently it is a lucid and exciting read without historical accuracy being sacrificed. Such is to be expected from one who has deep roots in Zulu-Natal and can boast of two family members being present at the Battle of Isandlwana.
It is a long read. Put your feet up and enjoy the kaleidoscope of Zulu Kings and British generals; bishops and scallywags; courtiers and cowards and, above all, the raw courage and fighting ability of warriors and redcoats who, strangely enough, were each like the other in so many ways.
Ron Lock is author of Zulu Victory: The Epic of Isandlwana and the Cover-up, as well as Hill of Squandered Valour: The Battle of Spion Kop, 1900, and other works covering South African military conflicts of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Ron Lock’s books are available on Goodreads.com and Amazon.com