Zulu Hart.

By Saul David

Printed: 2009

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton. London

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: English

Signed by: Author

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 4

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In the original dustsheet. Red cloth binding with black title on the spine.

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Bullied at school for his suspiciously dark skin and lack of a father, Hart soon learns to fight – and win. At eighteen, his world is shaken by his mother’s revelation that his anonymous father is willing to give him a vast inheritance – provided he can prove himself worthy of the prize as an officer in the King’s Dragoon Guards. At a time when racism and prejudice are rife in Victorian society, Hart struggles to come to terms with his identity. Forced to leave the army, he decides to head to South Africa, and a fresh start. But George Hart has soldiering in his blood, and once in Africa the urge to serve again is strong. Yet now he is caught between two fierce and unyielding forces as Britain drives towards war with the Zulus. Hart must make a choice – and fight for his life.

Review: Aubrey, Kidd, Hornblower, Bolitho etc, etc well that’s the navy taken care of, what about the army? Sharpe, Hervey, Flashman and now Hart. Not everyone’s cup of tea apparently. I enjoyed it. I agree with a previous reviewer that Hart seems a little advanced for his years; he will far exceed the rank defined by his dad by the time he has reached the requisite age. He will be a Field-marshal at least. I disagree with the same reviewer’s strictures on the author using one of his own books as a reference. We must not confuse a respected historian with a writer of adventure stories even if they are the same bloke.

Like others of the genre it is a work of fiction incorporating an actual historical happening, usually with a slant in the direction of the author’s own views and prejudices, what would you expect? Roughly speaking there are only two types of these books, one with the emphasis on the hero the other with the emphasis on the events with which he is involved. This book is of the latter type. The characters are underdeveloped but have interest and may well become more rounded and George’s age might catch up with his hindsight. But there is some meat in the interaction of the personalities and I think they deserve persevering with – I have already ordered the second in the series! The ‘action’ sequences I thought were very well done and written in a style that carries you along – good writing. It is also good to see the native Africans, the Zulus etc. treated with the respect they deserve.

I take issue with the description of the ancestral pistol. Given the time scale it must have been a ‘cap and ball’ Colt taking either loose powder and a ball or the later paper cartridges, unlikely that Hart’s mum had it converted for rim or centre-fire. I don’t think the ‘bullets’ that Hart scrounged at Rorke’s Drift would have been of much use.

Give it a try, it’s not Shakespeare and certainly not for the Rambo enthusiast but you may not be able to put it down. It’s not a bad read and if you know little about the so-called Zulu wars this might whet your appetite.


The Battle of Rorke’s Drift by Alphonse de Neuville. The British defense of the small hospital station was a morale boost for the British Empire.

The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom. Following the passing of the British North America Act of 1867 forming a federation in Canada, Lord Carnarvon thought that a similar political effort, coupled with military campaigns, might succeed with the African Kingdoms, tribal areas and Boer republics in South Africa. In 1874, Sir Bartle Frere was sent to South Africa as High Commissioner for the British Empire to effect such plans, among the obstacles were the armed independent states of the South African Republic and the Kingdom of Zululand.

Frere, on his own initiative, sent a provocative ultimatum on 11 December 1878 to the Zulu king Cetshwayo and upon its rejection sent Lord Chelmsford to invade Zululand. The war is notable for several particularly bloody battles,including an opening victory of the Zulu at the Battle of Isandlwana, followed by the defence of Rorke’s Drift by a small British Garrison from an attack by a large Zulu force. The British eventually won the war, ending Zulu dominance of the region. The Zulu Kingdom was then made a protectorate and later annexed by the British Empire in 1887.

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