By Orders of the Great White Queen

By Orders of the Great White Queen


  • Author: Ian Knight
  • Publisher: Greenhill Books
  • Publish Date: 1992
  • ISBN: 1-85367-122-3
  • Price: £19.99

Review By : Elizabeth Hogan

When the Queen visited Durban in 1995, one journalist from a UK newspaper claimed to spot this book lying on the seat of the Royal car! If so, it was an appropriate choice of background reading for the book is an anthology of eye-witness accounts of the 1879 campaign by British participants, and the title – used here with just a touch of irony – sums up the cause for which they fought. It was, according to that scurrilous adventurer George Hamilton Browne, the answer given by one of his officers to the very fair challenge issued by a Zulu on the eve of the first skirmish of the war, ‘asking by whose orders we had come’. Most of the accounts included here are drawn from officers’ memoirs – they have been published before, but often in volumes that are long out of print and almost impossible to find. They include the relevant recollections by Hamilton Browne, Smith Dorrien, Bindon Blood, Evelyn Wood, Molyneux, Grenfell and others. They provide the broad sweeps describing the action as they experienced it; the rest is briskly sketched in by Ian Knight, who links their stories together. Taken as a whole they provide not only a good deal of important first-hand material, not readily available to the general reader, but an excellent and entertaining read. Their limitations are obvious enough – they are the voice of the times, unquestioning in their attitudes to British Imperialism and they provide no insight into the Zulu perspective – but while these are noted Ian has been wise enough to allow the voices to speak for themselves

Friday 30th of June 2006 03:13:50 PM