By El Jefe
South African history has always been interpreted falsely due to a eurocentric eye telling the South African story. Someone rarely could depict the Zulu nation and its culture the way this author has. It is very clear that research was done and the was no mockery of anything that seemed taboo to the author. He put in as much respect to those practices as possible.
The battle of Isandlwana is one of the Zulu nation's proudest victories and what James Mace did on retelling this historic event is stunning. Firstly, he goes to the psychological and mental factors that led to this battle. Secondly, he touches on the physical and tactical movements of those in battle. This clear description paints the picture and makes the reader visualize exactly the scenes on that field as they were. All the key personnel is mentioned and their roles are clearly stated. This makes it easy for most people to understand why King Cetshwayo won this battle.
One thing I did not like as much, was the major focus on the European leader's strategy and why it failed when it could have focused more on how King Cetshwayo was preparing his troops and how their plan was bulletproofed even though they had no guns. It could go either way but I feel that should have dominated the first third of this book.
I would give Brutal Valour: The Tragedy Isandlwana a good 4 out of 5 stars. The writing is good and all the historical facts are accurate. There is no manipulation of events or mockery of a tradition that is foreign to the author. The only reason they do not get a perfect score is because of the way the book is structured but beyond that, this is an excellent piece of writing.
Many South African students or people who are interested in the past events of this country would benefit from the writing of James Mace. He is not biased nor does he tweak events to make a white man look superior in an event they lost. Brutal Valour: The Tragedy of Isandlwana is also good for those who want to have an understanding of how the Royal King of the Zulu nation came to power after the assassination of King Shaka. The book will give you an insight into what the king had to do to get to the throne. Lastly, will get the royal family feud and its politics when a King passes on as it was seen with the recent passing of King Zwelithini.
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