Nothing Remains But To Fight

Nothing Remains But To Fight


  • Author: Ian Knight
  • Publisher: Greenhill Books
  • Publish Date: 01/01/1993
  • ISBN: 1-85367-137-1
  • Price: £19.99

Review By : Elizabeth Hogan

When this book first appeared – and arguably still today – it was without doubt the best researched and most detailed account of this most famous of all Anglo-Zulu War battles. Although it’s large format and profusely illustrated style suggest it is a picture-book, the text provides a very detailed analysis of the battle. With chapter titles like ‘Dramatis Personae’, ‘Action!’ and ‘Awards and Sequels’, it is clear that author Ian Knight is acknowledging his own debt to the film Zulu, which sparked his interest, but in fact the book draws a fairly gritty distinction between the mythology and reality. After a fairly brief summary of the background to the battle, it plunges us into the personalities involved and into a detailed description of the fighting, based entirely on first-hand accounts. As usual with Ian’s work, there is a careful look at the Zulu perspective and indeed one’s perception of the battle begins to change with some understanding of just how difficult a position it was to assault. The last chapters draw out the contrast between British and Zulu reactions to the battle – while the British garrison was feted at home, the Zulu warriors went home to the derision of their families, who scoffed at them for the high price they had paid in an unnecessary attack – and touches upon the question of whether the British awards were inspired by a propaganda need to exaggerate the victory at Rorke’s Drift to offset the losses at Isandlwana. This has become a fashionable theme in more recent works, but Ian was one of the first to explore it, and his conclusion – that they probably were, but that this does not detract from the bravery of the men involved – remains valid. It has to be said, too, that the book contains an excellent range of illustrations, chosen with some care to reveal the true appearance of the members of the garrison and the Zulus alike, and to illustrate key features on the battlefield and surviving artefacts from the action. This is still an essential read on the subject. Ian promises that his new book on the subject Rorke’s Drift; The True Story (due out Xmas 2006 or early 2007) will consider many of these themes in greater detail, and on the strength of this it will be well worth the wait.

Friday 30th of June 2006 07:47:05 AM