Zulu Warriors

The Battle for the South African Frontier

John Laband

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May 27, 2014
360 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
38 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300180312
Cloth

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Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the British embarked on a concerted series of campaigns in South Africa. Within three years they waged five wars against African states with the intent of destroying their military might and political independence and unifying southern Africa under imperial control. This is the first work to tell the story of this cluster of conflicts as a single whole and to narrate the experiences of the militarily outmatched African societies.
 
Deftly fusing the widely differing European and African perspectives on events, John Laband details the fateful decisions of individual leaders and generals and explores why many Africans chose to join the British and colonial forces. The Xhosa, Zulu, and other African military cultures are brought to vivid life, showing how varying notions of warrior honor and manliness influenced the outcomes for African fighting men and their societies.
John Laband is professor, Department of History, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, and the author or editor of many books on Africa.
'The British invasion of Zululand in 1879 has long been seen as one of the dramatic punctuation marks of British colonial history, with six months of brutal fighting encapsulated in popular memory by the stunning Zulu victory at iSandlwana and the equally remarkable British defence of Rorke's Drift. But the Anglo-Zulu War has come to symbolise, too, a wider range of contemporary African resistence to British imperial progress in southern Africa itself. Here John Laband - the undoubted master of Anglo-Zulu War studies - has for the first time placed that war squarely within the context of a succession of bitter struggles which marked British attempts to consolidate their control over their southern African frontier in the years 1877-79. Zulu Warriors explores the military traditions of the indiginous societies involved, and draws out complex layers of political and economic rivalries that drew them into the unequal struggles which would spell the tragic end of not only Zulu independence, but also that of the Xhosa, Griqua and Pedi peoples. This is an important, original and gripping book - a must-read for anyone interested to learn quite how far the shadow of iSandlwana falls.' - Ian Knight, author of Zulu Rising; The Epic Battles of iSandlwana and Rorke's Drift
'John Laband is the doyen of scholars of the conflicts between Britons, Boers and indigenous peoples in southern Africa. In this new work embracing military, socio-political, and cultural themes, he reflects brilliantly on the "closing" of the frontier in South Africa between 1876 and 1879. He recounts not only the destruction of the Zulu kingdom, but also the often neglected role that other Africans played in supporting the British in their conquests. It is major contribution to the historiography of imperialism in Africa.' - Ian F.W. Beckett
'John Laband is one of those rare historians of war and society in Africa who appreciates the need not only to illuminate but to do so in a vividly entertaining manner. His thoroughly engaging new book is an elegant, thought-provoking, and admirably measured examination of clashing military cultures in Southern African colonial warfare in the closing decades of the nineteenth-century. I can think of no-one I would rather read on the subject of these sinewy warriors and their worlds.' - Bill Nasson, author of The War in South Africa: The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902