Martin, here's some of Mike Snook's book reviews. Can you post some of yours in responce to this post.
From Publishers Weekly
A lieutenant colonel in the Royal Regiment of Wales, Snook offers a blow-by-blow account of the heroic defense of Rorke's Drift during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, made famous by the 1964 British movie classic Zulu. Rorke's Drift was an "isolated, lightly held, and completely unfortified" garrison on the edge of Zululand and served as a depot for the advancing British army. On January 22, 1879—"one of the most calamitous... and one of the most renowned days" in the history of the British Empire—a British column was decimated by a Zulu army at the Battle of Isandlwana, the subject of Snook's earlier volume How Can Man Die Better. Late that afternoon, a force of some 4,500 Zulus who had missed the earlier action descended on the garrison at Rorke's Drift—finding it "too tempting a target to resist." The 150 men at the garrison held their ground against wave after wave of frontal attacks—the fighting often hand-to-hand. The battle raged into the night before the Zulus finally withdrew. Seventeen defenders lost their lives, while 13 received the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest honor for valor. The story of Rorke's Drift is well documenented, and Snook adds primarily "a soldier's perspective," recreating the battle in scrupulous detail and high drama. The climax comes early, however, and much of the final third of the book—such as an extended analysis regarding responsibility for the disaster at Isandlwana—feels extraneous. (Apr.)
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Military History, December 2006
“Although the legendary defense of Rorke’s Drift has certainly been documented before, Snook’s second book is a brilliant historical achievement. From the beginning his narrative leaps from each page to the next, making the reader feel as if he is sometimes standing alongside Lieutenants John Chard and Gonville Bromhead. Even so, when objectively read, the book clearly gives equal recognition to the martial courage of the defending British soldiers and attacking Zulu warriors alike…Like Wolves on the Fold is a highly recommended addition to the Zulu War enthusiast’s library. It is a very well documented and outstandingly written saga of what may well be considered a Thermopylae of the British Army.”
Military History Online
"I really enjoyed this book ... Very few battles have the desperation, excitement and intensity of Rorke's Drift and this book does the battle justice. I highly recommend this book."
Journal of Military History
"Lieutenant Colonel Mike Snook has put together a nice little book covering the events of 22-23 January 1879 when a tiny detachment of British soldiers held their own against sustained attacks by a seemingly overwhelming n umber of Zulu warriors...Snook describes the events in a manner that is readable and enjoyable. He keeps the story short, yet follows the actions of as many of the specific individuals as extant records make possible...Perhaps the best feature of Wolves on the Fold is that the reader has the sense of being told the exciting story of courage and tenacity backing military training and decision-making, as if in conversation...for a story that has been told many times, by many fine writers, Colonel Snook succeeds in making his version both entertaining and educational...the sheer volume of information regarding the men who participated in the struggle both at Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana is invaluable and reason enough to add the book to one's collection."
"This is a remarkable work, and the author's unbridled respect for the fighting qualities of the British soldier and his abiding affection for the Zulu people shines through."
"Written by a serving officer of the Royal Regiment of Wales, formerly the 24th
, Like Wolves on the Fold is the fascinating true story of one of the most improbable victories in military history ... A collection of inset photographs and artwork, most in black and white but a few in color, round out this rousing military history, which pays full respect to both sides in a bloody conflict."
"[Like Wolves on the Fold] is outstanding. You can tell that Snook put a lot of time and effor into researching and writing this masterpiece of historical writing. He weaves into his research the logic of a military commander...This book is an excellent example of scholarship and easy-to-read history."
1-7 of 7
Awesome, January 23, 2007
Reviewer: Jerome A. Rice - See all my reviews
I've read a dozen plus books on the Zulu War and have seen the movies a number of times.
This book is the absolute best of all!
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Custer should have been so lucky, January 26, 2007
Reviewer: Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
On Wednesday morning, January 22, 1879, the 1st Battalion and most of the 2nd of the British 24th
Regiment of Foot was wiped about by a Zulu army at Isandlwana in South Africa. (This battle is covered in Lieutenant Colonel Mike Snook's book, HOW CAN MAN DIE BETTER.)
After Isandlwana, the victorious tribesmen swarmed on several miles to the missionary compound, comprising a residence/hospital and storehouse, at Rorke's Drift. Here, for five hours in the late afternoon and evening of January 22nd, 154 remnant troops of the 2nd/24th
successfully held off a siege by some 4,500 assailants. This stalwart defense, the crowning glory in the history of the 24th
(now the Royal Regiment of Wales), is the subject of LIKE WOLVES ON THE FOLD, also by Snook.
I'm no expert on such narratives, but this book seems to me to be as exemplary an account of a small unit defensive action as one can find anywhere. Based on after-action reports and participants' memoirs, it's of the sort I would have expected from Custer and his 7th Cavalry troopers, or the Alamo defenders, or the 300 Spartans of Thermopylae, had any of these heroic bands had the good fortune to survive. But at Rorke's Drift, luck had little to do with it - just gritty determination, an adequate supply of ammo, inspired leadership from Lieutenants John Chard and Gonville Bromhead, and not just a little desperation; they were surrounded.
The volume includes a commendable 33-page section of photographs and painting reproductions. There are also several excellent drawings of the Rorke's Drift compound at various stages of the battle, each showing the direction of the Zulu attacks against a defense wall hastily constructed of 200-lb mealie-bags and 100-lb cases of hardtack and tinned bully beef - a perimeter that contracted and changed shape several times during the course of the siege as Chard and Bromhead found it necessary to withdraw and regroup their men in the face of ferocious assaults. Indeed, about halfway through the ordeal, the hospital was set aflame and had to be evacuated under fire.
The narrative of the 24th
's gallant stand comprises the first half the book and is the most riveting part. The remaining, more staid chapters concern themselves with the outcome of the Anglo-Zulu War, the assignment of responsibility for the Isandlwana debacle, and the post-war careers of the principle British and Zulu combatants, particularly the eleven British defenders of Rorke's Drift who were honored with the Empire's highest award for valor, the Victoria Cross - the most ever awarded in British military history for a single action.
The story told by LIKE WOLVES ON THE FOLD illustrates the British "stiff upper lip" at its stiffest. The Empire and the Queen Empress were privileged to have such men in their service.
Seen the Movie?, January 17, 2007
Reviewer: C. L Morrison - See all my reviews
Zulu, with Michael Caine. Well, Hook was not a malingerer and the swiss guy was only 25 years old. The guys who brought the word of the Zulu's coming to the drift probably deserted their comrades. And Bromhead really was the bravest officer. Great book. Dispels the movie misconceptions, among which the battle basically ended during the night with no stand against the redoubt in daylight. Good history, but a bit chronolically broken. In the end really it's the Indians with bows and arrows and the cavalry with rifled weapons. Not so much a fantastic effort by a company of the 24th
Regiment of Foot, but what should be expected, notwithstanding the rather inaccurate rifle fire of Zulus with Martini-Henris at the drift. The author makes it plain that any competent British officer could hold off the Zulus with proper orders and clear chain of command. For the romance of war take the movie, for colonial romance take the book.
The Definitive Book on the Defense of Rorke's Drift, January 6, 2007
Reviewer: Ken McCormick "kmccormick12" (Waverly, IA USA) - See all my reviews
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Snook has written what appears to be the definitive book on the defense of Rorke's Drift. He corrects errors made by previous writers and provides as clear a picture of the battle as is possible more than a century after the fact. There is a wealth of information, but his prose never gets bogged down. In fact, the book reads as easily as a novel. The book includes some very useful maps that complement the text and give the reader a good sense of the progression of the battle. I highly recommend Snook's book to anyone interested in the incredible skill and courage of the defenders of Rorke's Drift.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Great couage under duress, September 4, 2006
Reviewer: Frank J. Konopka (Shamokin, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This is a well-written and quite extensively detailed account of the defense at Rorke's Drift by a habdful of British soldiers against thousands on Zulu warriors fresh from their victory at Isandlwana. It recounts the actions taken by the leading officers, and the defenses that were quickly erected (and just in time) before the attacks began. This action was covered in the movie "Zulu", and the author does point out where book and cinema differ. He is obviously proud of the stout defense put on by the "redcoats", but he also praises the Zulus for their courage and persistence in the face of mass rifle fire. Both sides covered themselves with glory, but the British Empire eventually won the "war" that began with their devastating defeat earlier in the same day at the attacks at the Drift.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Wonderful Read, August 27, 2006
Reviewer: GrantF (MA) - See all my reviews
After reading, and thoroughly enjoying, "How Can Man Die Better", I was prepared to rip through this book with great gusto. No disappointment. It's a fantastic read. I came to the subject with a cursory knowledge (I'd read the Osprey campaign book) and some Hollywood images. I came away with as complete & thorough an understanding as I'm likely to get. While some may disagree with the point of that Lt. Col. Snook's obvious love & respect for his regiment engenders, they couldn't disagree with his clear rendition of the facts, busting of myths, and thorough exploration of the subject from a military point of view. Lt. Col. Snook includes as much of the point of view of the Zulu as he can as well. I wish more military history was written like this. It's just a great and informative read. I hope we can look forward to more books from this author.
The fascinating true story of one of the most improbable victories in military history, May 3, 2006
Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) - See all my reviews
Written by a serving officer of the Royal Regiment of Wales, formerly the 24th
, Like Wolves On The Fold: The Defence Of Rorke's Drift is the fascinating true story of one of the most improbable victories in military history. In January of 1879, a Zulu host attacked a single company of the 24th
Regiment of the British Army and a handful of recuperating hospital patients. Retreat was not an option, and the enemy outnumbered the defenders nearly thirty to one. Like Wolves On The Fold shows how sheer bloody-mindedness, as much as any other quality, turned the tables on the Zulus. Like Wolves On The Fold also surveys the remainder of the war, and examines the tragic end of the war's participants. A collection of inset photographs and artwork, most in black and white but a few in color, round out this rousing military history, which pays full respect to both sides in a bloody conflict.
Excellent study of a famous military action, March 21, 2006
Reviewer: Bruce Trinque (Amston, CT United States) - See all my reviews
I have read a considerable amount about the 1879 fight at Rorke's Drift where a small British force successfully resisted the furious attack of an enormous Zulu army, and I would unhesitatingly put Mike Snook's "Like Wolves On the Fold: The Defence of Rorke's Drift" at the top of the list of books about the battle.
Snook, a longtime officer in the Royal Regiment of Wales (the successor unit to the 24th
Infantry which fought at both Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift) quite obviously identifies with the British soldiers who fought there, but he also shows a great liking and respect for their Zulu foes. The result is a book that celebrates courage and honors sacrifice, no matter the color of the skin of the fighting man.
"Like Wolves On the Fold" is a companion volume to Snook's earlier "How Can Man Die Better: The Secrets of Isandlwana Revealed" about the famous Battle of Isandlwana, fought the same day only several miles away, a battle in which the Zulu army crushed a large British field force. Although it is not absolutely necessary to read "How Can Man Die Better" first, it is nonetheless a good idea, as the author returns to the subject of Isandlwana in the last third of "Like Wolves On the Fold" to render judgement on who was to blame (and who gets credit) for what happened there.
With "Wolves On the Fold", due to the small number of British troops invoved and thanks to the availability of numerous primary sources, Snook was able to construct a fast-paced, entralling narrative that often focuses upon individual soldiers during the fight. And in doing so, he corrects many erroneous myths promulgated by earlier books (and by the 1964 film "Zulu" which was exciting cinema, but not really history). His intimate familiarity with the terrain and professional military background allow Snook to speak with rare authority.
HISTORY BOOK CLUB REVIEWS
Review by Dennis Showalter
The defense of Rorke’s Drift during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 has arguably been the subject of more study than any other small-scale engagement in the history of war. As epitomized in the classic 1964 film “Zulu,” Rorke’s Drift appeals to a strain in the Western imagination that celebrates courage and discipline pitted against seemingly hopeless odds. And Rorke’s Drift offers a worthy opponent in the Zulus who came, and came again, against British rifles. If indeed “the courage of your enemies does you honor,” never was more honor won than by the men who held the mission station through a long day and night in June 1879.
A legendary clash of arms
The outline of the battle is clear. Paradoxically, however, the relatively limited area of the fighting combined with the survival of so many of the garrison to generate a broad spectrum of first-hand accounts whose details differ significantly. Snook brings to his subject fingertip command of contemporary British doctrine and practice at regimental levels. He combines this with detailed knowledge of the inner dynamics of the 24th
Foot, an ancestor of his own Royal Regiment of Wales; and with a regimental officer’s perspective on the stand-up, close-quarters fighting characteristic of Rorke’s Drift.
Snook’s hero is collective: B Company, 2/24th
Regiment, South Wales Borderers. He shows them as first-rate soldiers, masters of their weapons and themselves. With a few exceptions, especially the fight for the hospital, which Snook reconstructs more convincingly than any previous narrative, every man had a stretch of barricade and nowhere to go. It was war in its simplest form: face front and hold your ground; stand or die. B Company met the challenge—even though, unlike their film counterparts, its men did not burst into song at the battle's climax.
The narrative’s central figure is B Company's commander, Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead. An experienced officer, liked and respected by his men, Bromhead was in the thick of almost every critical situation during the siege. Account after enlisted man’s account pays tribute to leadership demonstrated in the most direct way: by apparently fearless courage. The post’s nominal commander, Lieutenant John Chard, is—one might say predictably—a more shadowy figure. Like Bromhead, however, he emerges as a professional who knew his business, and could perform under extreme stress.
Courage under fire
One of the strong points of Snook’s account is his demonstration that much of the subsequent denigration of Chard’s and Bromhead’s abilities was the product of backbiting by jealous fellow officers. No less significant is Snook’s convincing proof that the large number of Victoria Crosses awarded for Rorke’s Drift was not an effort by the higher-ups to draw attention from an otherwise-bungled campaign. Bromhead and Chard had clear ideas of who had distinguished himself, and submitted their recommendations as soon as the post was relieved.
The last third of the book summarizes the rest of the war, discusses responsibilities for the Isandhlwana disaster, and reflects on the later careers and fates of some of Rorke’s Drift’s principal actors. It provides useful contexts for what a line from the film appropriately calls a miracle—“a short-chamber Boxer-Henry point forty-five caliber miracle. And a bayonet...with some guts behind it!” 320 pages • 6" x 9"
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lt. Col. Mike Snook is a serving officer of the Royal Regiment of Wales (formerly the 24th
ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Dennis Showalter has taught history at Colorado College since 1969 and is a former president of the Society for Military History.
LIKE WOLVES ON THE FOLD, Dec 13,2006
Reviewer: TODD ERIKSEN
This magnificent book is so well researched giving an almost minute by minute account of the British "last stand" at Rorke's Drift during the Zulu wars. The real thing is much more interesting and intense than any movie or historical fiction could ever capture. I could not put it down. I've read books on Rorke's Drift before but the writing style and information blows them all away. If you are unfamiliar with Rorke's Drift then you really should read "How Can Man Die Better" also by Snook, as it has all the information leading up to Rorke's Drift, making more sense of "Like Wolves On the Fold". A must read for any history fan.
LIKE WOLVES ON THE FOLD, Sep 10,2006
Reviewer: RICHARD NEUNHERZ
An Exciting Page-turner
This second volume of Snook's account and analysis of the January, 1879, British disaster at Isandlwana and the ultimately successful defense of Rorke's Drift later that same day is a captivating story, thrilling told by an author steeped in military knowledge. In the retelling of the victory at Rorke's Drift in the face of huge odds, Snook describes the battle in exhaustive detail and explains the well-reasoned positions he takes on debated issues. While the work is not documented, he does provide a long list of participant primary sources. He also closely analyzes responsibility for the disaster at Isandlwana. This is exciting history extremely well told
LIKE WOLVES ON THE FOLD, Sep 1,2006
Reviewer: MIKE MOORE
like wolves on the fold
from acts of bravery when the bullet's are flying and hand to hand combat,to re-telling of 1st hand accounts of the battle.snook analysises this battle with a fine tooth comb leaving no detail out.it kept me on the edge of my seat anxious to read the next page.anybody interested in British or military history will enjoy this book! definitely a must have for any library!!!
LIKE WOLVES ON THE FOLD, Jul 19,2006
Reviewer: JOHN PATTERSON
Seen the movie? Now read the book.
I've seen the movie "Zulu" more times than I can count and love it. I was anxious to read Lt. Col. Snook's book to see what really happened that day in 1879, since I know how movies can sometimes take liberties with facts. This book and the account of what really happened that day, makes the movie pale in comparison. I can recommend this book to anyone interested in history, especially military or South African history.
7 DAYS LIFESTYLE &LEISURE
There have been many decisive land battles fought throughout time such as Agincourt, the English Civil War and Waterloo, whose outcomes ultimately determined the fate of nations.
But no land battle has ever been waged against such impossible odds and with so little at stake as the incomparable story of Rorke’s Drift. What happened at that tiny British garrison on Wednesday, January 22, 1879 when a single detachment of the 24th
Regiment — a total of just 150 men, including several hospital patients – fought off the advances of 4,500 Zulu assailants is the true stuff of Boy’s Own stories.
Just how this nominal detachment of men, facing odds of thirty to one, attained military immortality is told in a stunning, atmospheric new book Like Wolves On The Fold, The Defence of Rorke’s Drift by Lieutenant Colonel Mike Snook, published by Greenhill Books.
In recounting this classic story, Lt Col Snook, himself a serving officer with the Royal Regiment of Wales, formerly the 24th
Regiment, provides the insight of a military professional in offering a strikingly original and detailed account told almost in real time.
He describes how a hot, monotonous day ended in one of the most dramatic and improbable victories in history. His minute-by-minute narrative explains the heroic actions of the battle, making clear exactly where everyone would have been standing and what was their next move.
The book is a follow-up to Lt Col Snook’s acclaimed How Can A Man Die Better, which related the dreadful events of earlier on that fateful day when modern British expeditionary army, comprising just under 1,500 men, was decimated by an unstoppable host of Isandlwana warriors.
It picks up the story after the massive host attack on the 24th
Regiment at its encampment at the foot of the Isandlwana and word then gets through of this hideous defeat to the regiment’s single company posted at Rorke’s Drift.
With a similar fate awaiting them as their comrades and retreat not an option, it is the sheer bloody mindedness in the face of adversity, which is the hallmark of the British infantryman who defended the garrison.
Lt Col Snook describes the heroic actions of all the men who went on to receive an unprecedented 11 Victoria Crosses as a result of their unparalleled bravery that led to their place in history.
He also recounts the rest of the war, from the recovery of the lost Queen’s Colour of the 24th
to the charge of the 17th Lancers at Ulundi then addresses the issue of who was to blame for the disastrous events at Isandlwana.
Lt Col Snook’s interest in the Zulu Wars has developed into a deeper understanding and respect for both the great fighting qualities of the Victorian British soldier and the Zulu people, for whom he has a great abiding affection.
The book, whose foreword is by Colonel Huw Lloyd-Jones, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Wales, contains 32 pages of fully captioned illustrations and terrain photographs.
* Like Wolves On The Fold by Lieutenant Colonel Mike Snook, is published by Greenhill Books, £25. The book is available from good bookshops and through the Greenhill Books website, [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
The legendary 1879 battle at Rorke’s Drift is to England as the Alamo is to America: a story of a few heroically holding the fort against vastly greater enemy forces. Fighting for their country, for their wounded comrades and for their very lives, the British soldiers had their backs to the wall. They fought the attacking Zulus not only fiercely but, perhaps more importantly, in a cool-headed, organized fashion. “This was war at its simplest,” the author says. “Nose to nose, face to face, hand to hand.” Panic meant death, plain and simple.
And then there were the Zulus who, until now, have received scant attention for their efforts. They, too, fought courageously—but their tactics didn’t fare them too well. They charged the fort “until the corpses of the slain were piled high around the barricades.”
Like Wolves on the Fold traces the action leading up to the battle (namely, the Zulu rout of the British army at Isandlwana hours previous). It then provides a view of all the action, tactics, strategies and blood spilled in one of history’s most remarkable battles.
If you’re not fully familiar with the British stand at Rorke’s Drift, and if you take military history seriously, you need to read Like Wolves on the Fold. Maps. 32 pages of color and B/W photos. 262 pages.
Title- Like Wolves to the Fold (The Defence of Rorke's Drift)
Author- Lieutenant Colonel Mike Snook
Publisher- Greenhill Books
Its not often you get two books that most definitely should be read one after the other but this companion volume to “How Can Man Die Better” is an exemplary example, leading from the victory of the Zulu army at Isandlwana to a defeat at Rorke's Drift a scant few miles away. The stand at the drift has become synonymous with the highest levels of gallantry and courage associated with the British Army, because here on the 22nd January 1879 a single company of the 24th
Regiment 91st/2nd Battalion). Supporting these were a few recuperating patients, and members of N Battery (5th Brigade Royal Artillery), Natal Mounted Police, 3rd Regiment NNC, and other individuals fought off a ferocious attack by over 4,500 Zulu warriors. In what should have been a walkover, even with out the explicit command of King Cetshwayo a victory was anticipated.
This fascinating addition to the Greenhill series makes for a wonderful companion to the other title and like this maintains the same very high standard both in terms of content and presentation. Obvious deviations from the real events are bound to occur when converting an event to the big screen but it has to be said that the images portrayed do help the reader to visualise more clearly how the battle might have appeared to a participant. However when you read the facts behind the action it becomes all the more incredible that such a small force could have held a huge number at bay especially after the perimeter was initially laid out for a much larger force of men armed with Martini Henry rifle with .45 Boxer cartridges. As it turned out a significant number ran away, these being mostly NNC, although one European NCO who ran with them was shot dead. Thus when it came to defence the soldiers were already over extended and it was only later when the perimeter could be shortened, with the loss of the infirmary, and the building of a redoubt that the modern weaponry delivered the desired result. The book provides an interesting over view of events leading to this stand at Rorke's Drift, and provides a riveting account of the battle for the infirmary both inside and out, and the fallback position at the redoubt. An analysis of the commanding officers, 2Gonny” Bromhead and John Chard was also of great interest and it seems that perhaps the heroic exploits portrayed in the 1960’s film was not so far off the mark in regards to their courage. Bromhead for example led several bayonet charges onto the infirmary veranda to clear it of Zulu.
The last part of the book links effectively with the other publication and investigates the subsequent course of the war, and who was accountable for the tragic events leading both to Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift. Of especial note are the appendices that provide a veritable feast of information ranging from the nominal role call of the 24th
Regiment at both Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, the latter casualty return, Honours and Awards, Lt Chards report to the Queen, Lt Col. Wilsone Blacks reports, and how to visit the battlefields."