Below you will find a selection of book reviews. You can also go to for reviews of nearly every book concerning the Anglo Zulu War published in the last fifteen years.


Ian Knight’s new book ‘Zulu Rising’, is now due to be published by Macmillans early next year and is now listed on Amazon. It’s an epic re-telling of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift which seeks to set the battles in the context of a catastrophic clash of cultures by exploring the documented lives of a number of individuals on both sides whose paths cross on the battlefields.

Having read some extracts, I can safely say it promises to be Ian’s best book yet, merging his usual meticulous research with a more expressive and evocative style of writing to invest the story with the sense of tragic grandeur it deserves. This is certainly ‘not just another book on Isandlwana’, and should be eagerly awaited by anyone with a passing interest in the war.

Dr Adrian Greaves


New Book on ‘Zuluness’
John Laband- together with Benedict Carton and Jabulani Sithole – is the editor of a major new study of what it means to be a Zulu – Zulu Identities; Being Zulu, Past and Present, just published by the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press. At over 600 pages it is a meaty look at the diverse and often contentious issue of what it has meant to be a Zulu from the time of King Shaka to today.

It takes the form of a series of essays written by leading academic historians – including John Laband, Jeff Guy and Ian Knight, who has contributed a paper of the reaction of the Zulu kingdom to the British invasion of 1879 – which ask whether a common sense of Zulu indentity really emerged during the nineteenth-century, the subsequent impact of colonialism upon that, and the political struggle to mobilise and control a sense of Zulu tradition and heritage which accompanied the collapse of apartheid. Along the way the authors consider a wide range of issues which have impacted on the sense of ‘Zuluness’, from the manipulated images of the kings Shaka and Dingane to attempts by white missionaries to interpret Zulu religious belief in accordance with Christian doctrine, the ideological struggles of the black middle class in the early twentieth-century to reconcile their Western attitudes with their heritage, the role of popular song, and the future of Zulu tradition in the face of AIDS.

At a thumping £75 in the hardback edition – a £25 paperback is in the offing – this is perhaps not a book best suited to those primarily interested in the minutiae of Isandlwana or Rorke’s Drift for there is as much here on Inkatha as King Cetshwayo, but it is likely to be seen as a definitive study of the Zulu people at a crucial stage of their history.




Henry Charles Harford – ‘The Beetle Collector’
Hero of the Zulu War, Soldier and Entomologist.
By Dr David Payne and Emma Payne.   Edited by Dr Adrian Greaves FRGS

“Henry Charles Harford was my friend”
David Rattray FRGS
Entomologist and noted Zulu War Lecturer
The Royal Geographical Society
London 2006

Henry Charles Harford was an entomologist and a vibrant personality of the Anglo Zulu War. Harford had always fascinated David Rattray, the world famous lecturer on the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 and himself a qualified entomologist. David gave countless world-wide presentations and always wove the story of ‘Charlie Harford the beetle collector’ into his enthralling lectures. David was especially excited when the new material was discovered and he was delighted to hold and present Harford’s medal to his audience during his final Royal Geographical Society lecture in London – just four months before his untimely death.

With 151 new pictures, photographs and sketches
Publication date  9th May 2008
© The Ultimatum Tree Limited

Much is known about Henry Charles Harford because he came from an eminent family linked through marriage to the Scott family (Captain Robert Falcon Scott – Scott of the Antarctic – was Harford’s cousin). Charlie Harford, as he was known, played a significant role in the Anglo Zulu War of I879 and as a Lieutenant attached to the Colonial Natal Native Contingent from the 99th (Wiltshire) Regiment, he led the first attack against the Zulus under the watchful eye of the British Commander, Lord Chelmsford. Even in this early engagement, Harford earned the respect and admiration of his fellow officers for his calm bravery but did cause some confusion in the heat of battle by pausing to collect a rare beetle. Harford was well known to his colleagues for his intense interest in nature, especially of beetles, butterflies and moths, an interest which matched his enthusiasm for military life.

Harford participated in a number of important actions during the Zulu War and was at Rorke’s Drift until the invasion of Zululand. He led the first attack against the local Zulu Chief Sihayo and accompanied Lord Chelmsford on his ill-fated reconnaissance which left the main British camp at Isandlwana unprepared for a full Zulu attack the following day. He witnessed the result of the Zulu victory at Isandlwana and went on to see the aftermath at Rorke’s Drift; he then supervised
the disbandment of the Natal Native Contingent. At the same time his senior officer, Commandant Lonsdale, gave Harford custody of two officer deserters, Lieutenants Higginson and Stephenson; both officers had abandoned their men in action against the Zulus and the situation caused Harford some perplexing moments.

Following the Zulu defeat on the 4th July 1879 Harford was part of the force that searched for King Cetshwayo and he was personally given the custody of King Cetshwayo following his capture until the king was imprisoned at Cape Town.

Harford was lucky to have survived to old age, he eventually died at the age of 86. He was born in India where he immediately developed fever and was given into the care of an Indian family as he was not expected to survive. He was subsequently returned to his parents fit and well only to fall out of an upper window and impale himself on railings – and he was not yet two years old. Again, he was expected to die of his injuries but he survived and recovered.

His childhood was spent largely hunting and shooting, both in England and then in Natal, and his written accounts are both illuminating and exciting. Harford possessed a wonderful sense of humour which shines through his writings. His accounts of fishing and hunting trips in the then unmapped areas of Natal in South Africa make wonderful reading, as do the escapades and pranks which were a feature of his life. Throughout his writings, he expresses his love of nature and wildlife yet at the same time he begins to note the way of life of the native population he mixed with. His childhood friends included such notables as Cecil Rhodes, Spencer Drake (descendent of Sir Francis Drake), Bishop Colenso’s children and John Dunn, as well as numerous army officers, and so he was drawn to an army career at an early age. As a youth he learned to speak fluent Zulu and when in his twenties, as the Adjutant of his regiment then serving in England, he was well aware of the looming war in Zululand. He offered his services to the War Office, services which were promptly accepted and he soon found himself back in Natal.

After service in Zululand, Harford remained in the British army and served variously in the UK, Bahamas and India. He retained his interest in collecting rare specimens and he meticulously recorded these and sent the best exhibits to the Museum of Natural History in Durban. A number of rare items were also presented to the British Museum in London (then latterly to the Natural History Museum). Being a dedicated officer, he married late in life but soon lost his wife to fever in India. He was left with an infant daughter and never re-married.

This book is the result of two years of reading, deciphering, transcribing and careful compilation of Harford’s journals, diaries, numerous manuscripts, sketches and photographs. These documents give a remarkable insight into the life and times of a Victorian gentleman who specialised in the study of the natural world. He was also a successful and dedicated army
officer and a devoted family man.

Book Orders.
The book is limited to 1,250 copies only.
Hard Cover – £66 plus p&p
Postal rates are;  UK £12   Europe £20   Worldwide beyond Europe  £30.

Copies can be ordered via the Society at no extra cost  or by contacting the publishers:
The Ultimatum Tree Ltd.,
121 Marina heights



Vols 1 & 2′ by Ian Knight and Adrian Greaves, published by Pen and Sword Books.

The idea behind the ‘Who’s Who in the Zulu War’ is to provide basic biographical information on prominant people who were involved in the Anglo-Zulu campaign. So often, reading standard histories, the reader is left to ponder ‘what was his background? What became of him?’; these books are an attempt to answer some of those questions, and to put military activity in 1879 within the context of individual lives. Volume One covers British troops, including the senior British commanders, VC winners, and others who played a significant or controversial role in the war; Volume Two covers Colonial and Zulu participation. The latter includes powerful political figures like the Shepstones and Colensos, but also less well-known people whose lives form part of the threads of the war, including James Rorke, Otto Witt, George Hamilton Browne and George Mossop. A number of Zulu personalities are considered, ranging from King Cetshwayo and his senior commanders to men like Mkhosana Biyela or Sitshishili kaMnqandi, for whom biographical information is not available