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The River War

de Winston S. Churchill

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320562,068 (3.94)17
First published in 1899 and revised for the 1902 edition by its author Winston Churchill, this history of the River War in Sudan vividly chronicles the military campaign that altered the destinies of England, Egypt, and the Arabian peoples in northeast Africa.  More by accident than design, in Churchill's view, England was drawn into the affairs of Egypt in the 1880s, for at the same historical moment that the English, under Lord Cromer, were granted virtually sovereign power to establish a sound government in Egypt and to stimulate its national economy, the Mahdi rebelled in the Egyptian suzerainty of Sudan. Violence and bloodshed ensued, and the English soon found themselves embroiled alongside their Egyptian ally in a bitter conflict with the fiercely nationalistic Mahdi--a conflict that culminated in the massacre of General Charles Gordon at Khartoum and the emergence of the fanatical regime known as the Dervish Empire.  In this illuminating volume, Churchill not only dramatically relates the catastrophic events in Sudan's 1880s, but also places them in the context of Sudanese history. So it is that his subsequent account of the reconquest and pacification of Sudan by a mixed Anglo-Egyptian force under the command of Sir Herbert Kitchener weds history to destiny, as the outcome of the River War for decades would link Great Britain to the uneasy future of Egypt and Sudan. … (mais)
  1. 00
    Fire and Sword in the Sudan de Freiherr von Rudolf Carl Slatin (AndreasJ)
    AndreasJ: Churchill was an eyewitness to the collapse of the Mahdist state; Slatin to its rise.
  2. 00
    Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War, 1874-1945 de Carlo D'Este (TomCat14)
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Exibindo 5 de 5
Engaging and absorbing account of, principally, the 1890s campaign to reconquer the Sudan from the Khalifa, successor to the Mahdi. However, Churchill also gives the reader a comprehensive survey of how the war came to pass. The events of the war are told very engagingly; some of the events Churchill had seen with his own eyes, and had participated in. You can tell Churchill's "voice" quite distinctly in the writing. Another thing to like about the book is the profusion of very attractive maps that greatly explain and illustrate the movements described in the text -- Churchill makes a great point of drawing the reader's attention to these maps at certain points. There are also various musings on war, and upon Islam (some of which resonate -- for good or evil -- today). Overall, a major advance on is first book on the Malakand Field Force, and a book that was key to Churchill's future, as he soon abandoned the army for the desk and the hustings. Definitely recommended. ( )
  EricCostello | Oct 5, 2018 |
Excellent work. This work briefly and clearly demonstration of Churchill's writing strength by being both patriotic to the point of jingoism and still being evenhanded, even complementary, in his treatment of enemy an he had personally fought against.

One of the main reasons to read this book, however is to understand World War 1. Many of those British military men who figured prominently in that great war are mentioned here as officers, many as junior officers. "This is where Lord Kitchener got his "Lord" and his famous "Kitchener of Khartoum" - the "K of K" with which he signed his papers. We see his methodical buildup, his command of logistics and supply, his patient strategic mindset. Just as the British took years to build up Kitchener's Army for WW1, so did the Anglo-Egyptian forces patiently build their professional fighting forces to reclaim the rebellious Sudan. Others on the Western Front include John French (BEF), Douglas Haig (BEF), Henry Rawlinson (the Somme and Amiens), David Beatty (Jutland, Grand Fleet), and Churchill himself.

Many of those who would work on the groundwork for the modern Middle East and North Africa are present. We see Reginald Wingate, Gilbert Clayton, and Henry McMahon, all of whom would work with or above T. E. Lawrence.

Other readers with better memories will catch other names and connect them to greater engagements in other theaters around the globe - China, Central Asia, the Boer War, and the Great War. ( )
  Hae-Yu | Jul 16, 2017 |
Churchill's book is, as may be expected, distinctly "dated" in terms of his views on race, the distinction between civilization and savagery, the benefits of imperialism, etc. If one can get past this, however, it's an excellent narrative history of the Anglo-Egyptian (re-)conquest of the Sudan, not devoid of sympathy for the Sudanese. Indeed, he expresses full understanding for the Sudanese having revolted against the previous Egyptian occupation, and gives a mostly positive appraisal of the Mahdi - perhaps surprising to a British public for whom revenge for the killing of General Gordon by the Mahdi's forces had been a primary motive for the war. He even finds a few positive things to say about the Mahdi's much-maligned successor, the Khalifa Abdullahi.

The war as such was an uneven contest, Sudanese numbers and courage being no match for superior Anglo-Egyptian firepower, and the casualties in all major engagements were horrifically loopsided. One can hardly fail to feel a mixture of awe and revulsion that, after the catastrophic failure of the first Mahdist attack at Omdurman, the Khalifa did not only order a second but was obeyed, resulting in further thousands of casualties for no gain.

The general reader may find the accounts of battles and skirmishes less interesting than Churchill's many digressions about the Sudanese environment, and the chapter about the construction of a railroad across the Nubian desert to support the advance of the Anglo-Egyptian army. Indeed, I chanced upon a geology paper on the Sudanese Nile that recommended The River War as the best general account of the "Cataract Nile" between Assuan and Khartoum!

It should be noted I read the revised 1902 edition (well, a reprint thereof).
1 vote AndreasJ | Jun 21, 2013 |
1189. The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan, by Winston Churchill (Oct 9, 1972) Churchill wrote this book when he was 25 and it was published in 1899. It is a well-written work, though the imperialistic view is not one that people today would appreciate. It recounts the events leading up to and culminating in the Battle of Khartoum (called Omdurman in this book) on Sept 2, 1898. Though I read it hurriedly I thought it was masterful. ( )
  Schmerguls | Apr 16, 2009 |
Een verhaal van godsdienstwaan en kolonialisme en de overwinning van techniek. Lees verder.... ( )
  boekenstrijd | Aug 30, 2007 |
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First published in 1899 and revised for the 1902 edition by its author Winston Churchill, this history of the River War in Sudan vividly chronicles the military campaign that altered the destinies of England, Egypt, and the Arabian peoples in northeast Africa.  More by accident than design, in Churchill's view, England was drawn into the affairs of Egypt in the 1880s, for at the same historical moment that the English, under Lord Cromer, were granted virtually sovereign power to establish a sound government in Egypt and to stimulate its national economy, the Mahdi rebelled in the Egyptian suzerainty of Sudan. Violence and bloodshed ensued, and the English soon found themselves embroiled alongside their Egyptian ally in a bitter conflict with the fiercely nationalistic Mahdi--a conflict that culminated in the massacre of General Charles Gordon at Khartoum and the emergence of the fanatical regime known as the Dervish Empire.  In this illuminating volume, Churchill not only dramatically relates the catastrophic events in Sudan's 1880s, but also places them in the context of Sudanese history. So it is that his subsequent account of the reconquest and pacification of Sudan by a mixed Anglo-Egyptian force under the command of Sir Herbert Kitchener weds history to destiny, as the outcome of the River War for decades would link Great Britain to the uneasy future of Egypt and Sudan. 

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