Zulu Rising: The Epic Story of iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift

Written by Ian Knight
Review by Sara Wilson

At iSandlwana in 1879, 20,000 Zulus defeated 1,800 men of the British Army in a battle so bloody and devastating that it was the media sensation of the day. It also marked the beginning of decades of strife as the British took revenge on the entire Zulu people.

Zulu Rising tells the story of this battle and the subsequent ones, Rorke’s Drift in particular, through the eyewitness accounts of the people who fought on both sides. This is war, up close and personal. The author also tackles some of the legends that have arisen around the battles and seeks to distinguish between verifiable fact and probable fiction.

Ian Knight obviously lives and breathes the Anglo-Zulu War and his 30-odd years of research have culminated in this masterful piece of non-fiction, which includes a quantity of previously unpublished material. As well as being erudite, well-balanced and comprehensive, Zulu Rising is above all readable and gripping. Before reading Zulu Rising the only things I ‘knew’ about the battles of iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift were gleaned from the Stanley Baker/Michael Caine film, Zulu; I feel much better informed now.