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The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan


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The River War is primarily an account of the military involvement of the British forces in the Mahdist Revolt. Young Winston Churchill took part in the campaign as a war correspondent and as an officer in the 21st Lancers, as well. He wrote several columns on the events of 1898 and, in 1899, he published The River War in two volumes, exceeding 1000 pages. In 1902 the book was revised and abridged to only one volume.

Written in a dynamic and expressive style, the book does not only describe the military tactics, but goes beyond that. Churchill paints a picture of the general background of the revolt and describes the relations between Egypt and the Upper Nile. The book starts with the story of General Charles Gordon’s murder and its implications. The author talks about England’s reaction to the event and describes the war preparations carried out by Kitchener.

Churchill took part in the Battle of Omdurman, which marked the re-conquering of Sudan by the British forces. The depiction of this expedition is a great opportunity for the author to thoroughly tackle the subject of war mechanization – weaponry development, use of railroads and telegraph – on the British side. On the other side, however primitive the enemy might have been, Churchill talks appreciatively about the ingenuity and courage showed by the Dervishes and admires the loyalty they had for their Khalifa.

A brilliant account of the war and the logistics employed by the British, with an excellent insight in the background, The River War is a great read for anyone who is passionate about military history.

Sir Winston Churchill was a prolific politician, historian, writer, and officer in the British Army. From 1940 to 1945 and 1951 to 1955, he was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
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