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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Winston Churchill: The Story of the Malakand Field Force

Recently finished Story of the Malakand Field Force; An Episode of Frontier War and put up this review at Amazon.
1897: The Northwest Frontier of British India, the infamous `tribal areas' of Pakistan that still vex the news today, is in one of its periodic eruptions. The Empire reacts and local events get interesting for a time. The modern technology of the telegraph brings the proceedings into the drawing rooms of London and for a (very) short while this bloody episode engages the attention of the world. Winston Churchill - some aristocratic young cavalry officer, contracted as a war correspondent - records it in detail for posterity in the workmanlike and literary style which will become the trademark of his writing. Churchill wrote this book at an age when, if he were an American alive today, he would still be covered by his parents health insurance.

This book (I read the free Kindle edition) is well worth the read for anyone that wants a quick, well-written immersion in the British Empire of the late 19th Century. Among all the jewels of period detail that abound, for instance, the brief biography of the officer commanding the British force is not to be missed. You will think it must have been made up, and it's hard to imagine any modern author or Hollywood screenwriter daring to create such a figure, let alone giving him his ancestry and then naming him: Brigadier-General Sir Bindon Blood, K.C.B.

Churchill's enthusiastic love of Queen and country certainly shines through. But this book is written by a thoughtful, perceptive, and intelligent man, unashamed (in fact, proud) to set his own views to paper, but well aware of the fact that many people disagree with him.

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