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Book Review: The River War by W.S.Churchill

October 3, 2009 8:59 PM - Posted by Phil - Category: Reviews

Spending some time abroad without any form of communication to the outside world (no internet, tv, or even radio), is always a good time to catch up with reading some books that have been sitting unread on the bookshelf for too long. So it came I read ‘The River War’ during my latest holiday in Corsica. ‘The River War’, written by Winston Churchill in 1899, chronicles the Nile Campaign of the British Army at the end of the 19th century. It describes in a fluent style the rise of the Mahdi and the Dervish Empire, the murder of General Gordon at Khartoum and the reconquest of the Sudan by the Anglo-Egyptian force under General Kitchener, culminating in the battle of Omdurman, in which Churchill himself took part as young officer of the 21st Lancers Cavalry Regiment.

The story reads fluently, and one is easily transported back to military campaign that happened over a century ago. As a wargamer, I often judge a book on military history by how inspired I become to recreate the events on the wargaming table. ‘The River War’ did not dissappoint me. During several reading sessions I regularly dreamed up several scenarios, along with grandiose plans of purchasing large quantities of figures for the period. And although I realize such initial enthusiasm wears off after a while, it is a strong indicator of the vivid descriptions present in the book.

Comments on this entry

Ah yes - Omdurman et al. I have quite a few Ospreys and other books of this period, from way back when I made my first and only (so far) attempt at rules writing - the famed (ahem) ‘Under a Distant Sun’.

Wasn’t W. Churchill with the 17th Lancers outside of the square at Omdurman? The ones that ran into a bunch of concealed Derwish Cavalry and then charged through a gulley?

October 4, 2009 4:18 PM - Posted by Robartes