Zulu Rising
Ian Knight

Zulu Rising

Zulu Rising, a major new study by Ian Knight of the battles of iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, tells the story of how a part-time army of African herdsmen brought to a halt – temporarily at least – more than half a century of British Imperial progress across southern Africa. The battle of iSandlwana was the bloodiest defeat inflicted upon the British Army during the Victorian era, and it sent shock-waves around the world and catapulted the Zulu people into a media spotlight from which they have yet to escape. That same day a small garrison of British troops at the border post of Rorke’s Drift held off an attack by overwhelming Zulu numbers for nearly ten hours earning no less than eleven Victoria Crosses (this incident was the inspiration for the Michael Caine film Zulu). Yet beneath the stereotypes of noble warriors and heroic redcoats the battles in fact reflected a brutal clash of cultures, a destructive collision of two warrior peoples that shaped the course of South African history into recent times. Closely researched, Zulu Rising follows the lives of individuals on both sides and weaves them together into a visceral description of the fighting – and its aftermath.

TV presenter Neil Oliver said of the book ‘I loved it...full of fresh ideas and new wisdom. Instead of blood some writers have a story running through their veins – Ian Knight is one of those writers and iSandlwana is his story.’

Book Details:

  • Author: Ian Knight
  • Published Year: 2010
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Sidgwick

Ian Knight

Ian Knight has studied the Anglo-Zulu War for more than thirty years, researching both in archives and on the field, walking the battlefields and collecting oral traditions from Zulus whose forebears took part. He is the author of a number of specialist books on the subject including Brave Men’s Blood and the award-winning The National Army Museum Book of the Zulu War (which shared the Royal United Services’ Institute’s prize for Best Military History in 2003. He has appeared in and advised on a number of television documentaries including Channel 4’s Secrets of the...
More about Ian Knight

Book Reviews

  • "  This is a book with many strengths. It gives an unrivalled feel for time and place...his understanding of the terrain and grasp of the sources enable him to come as close to painting a coherent picture of the battle as we can hope for...this fine book."
    Richard Holmes, Literary Review
  • "Ian Knight, an acknowledged expert on the Zulu Wars, has collated 30 years of research, some of it previously unpublished, to produce a definitive account of one of the most dramatic encounters in the whole history of Empire, collecting anecdotes and memories like the fragments of bone that littered the field of battle….this tour de force."
    Daily Mail Book of the Week.
  • "In this exceptional book, Ian Knight manages to expose many of the Victorian myths while still capturing the kind of epic excitement that makes Zulu so stirring. It is a first-class work of military history, not least for its evocative and extensive use of Zulu sources."
    Sunday Times
  • "Knight’s ability to capture the reality of the fighting and his combination of precise detail with the bigger picture helps make this book a gripping read."
    Jeremy Black, BBC History Magazine
  • "  Ian Knight is surely now the doyen of the subject…a compelling and authoritative account…Knight is adept at explaining motives, movements in the field and background planning…a true revisionary account…arguably the definitive work on the logistical mess that was Isandlwana…."
    Times Literary Supplement
  • "I loved it...full of fresh thinking, new ideas and new wisdom."
    Neil Oliver
  • "...700 vivid and engrossing pages..."
    Cape Times
  • "   Knight dissects the myths surrounding the battle, considers new theories and utilises archaeological evidence to tell the story, which he dramatically brings to life through the extensive use of the words of those – British, Colonial and African - who were there. This is iSandlwana in all its shock, rawness, desperation and inevitability. This is an extraordinary book, Knight’s tour-de-force, and, in the opinion of this reviewer, unlikely to be bettered. "
    Military Illustrated
  • "...the definitive story that tells in full the forging of the Zulu kingdom, the complexity of its politics, the tactics and the rituals that brought about a victory that ultimately led to the downfall of a nation...a gripping read by a brilliant storyteller."
    The Armourer
  • "Arguably the foremost expert of the Anglo-Zulu War and the history of the Zulu nation, Ian Knight has added another important volume to his impressive output of over thirty books...I found the author's detailed description of the build-up to the battle truly compelling even though the story is familiar...Similarly, the battle of Rorke's Drift is minutely examined and he manages to breathe new life into the oft told story...a book that tells a familiar tale in a fresh and very readable manner...this magnificent history."
    Victoria Cross Society
  • "  New research, including previously unpublished material, archaeological investigations and Zulu oral sources combine with the author's mature reflection on the background circumstances. The political complexities, his ready command of the events on the ground and his familiarity with the terrain produce a wonderfully coherent account of a vastly significant event in the annals of the British army and the history of South Africa…. Yet despite the bulk of the book, it is a story that is told with such skill that the reader's attention never flags. The author's insight distinguishes him as a reliable guide to men's motivations; his empathy ensures it never becomes| a one-sided narrative; his judicious use of first-hand accounts brings the terror and the horror of the battlefield to life. The engrossing text is supported by a good selection of relevant photographs as well as essential scholarly apparatus. Zulu Rising is highly recommended as a masterly study of a conflict the repercussions of which continue to reverberate 130 years down the line."
    Tonight
  • "Far more than a study of the two battles, Knight’s book provides an authoritative overview of the war including the best account of the various cross-currents at play preceding the conflict which cleverly interweaves the politics and the personalities that brought about the invasion of an independent sovereign state…When the combat commences Knight never loses sight of the individual human stories — Zulu, colonial and British — that intertwined in the fateful events of January and January 23, 1879, and one of the great strengths of the book is the number of first-hand sources, black and white, that Knight skilfully marshalls to tell his story.The result is rich and textured, fully justifying the 200 odd pages devoted to the preamble, battle and aftermath of Isandlwana.….If I was asked to name one must-read on the Anglo-Zulu War this would certainly be it."
    Natal Witness
  • "...a scholarly account of the Anglo-Zulu War, which culminated in the January 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift, this new history by Ian Knight is thorough and definitive. Knight uses first-hand sources, both Zulu and British, with admirable even-handedness to examine the bloody clash between two different warrior traditions. Archaeological evidence from the battlefield is also used to excellent effect."
    Sunday Telegraph