Wednesday, 1 January 2020

An Initial Sudan War Reading List for Wargamers

Battle of Abu Klea by William Barnes Wollen (1857-1936)

I am by no means an expert on the Anglo-Sudan, or Mahdist War. However, as a wargamer I have felt the siren's song of the conflict tugging at me gently over the years. What is more grand than the khaki and serge grey uniformed line of the Queen-Empress's finest arrayed against the white clad hordes of the Mahdi across a stark desert landscape? The conflict has its moments of consummate drama and excitement, and truly marks the end of an era of warfare. The Second Anglo-Boer war would drag the British Army, kicking and screaming, into the modern age.

An easy, enjoyable read, available for free from Amazon.

I have read several good books on the topic and have slowly been gathering a deeper and better understanding of the conflict over the years. I have found the following books to be invaluable as primers.First and foremost, I would recommend The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan by Winston Churchill. I found it to be a quick and easy read, largely thanks to Churchill's writing style. It is available for free on Amazon Kindle.

Another excellent read was Three Empires on the Nile: The Victorian Jihad, 1869-1899 by Dominic Green, which I listened to as an audiobook using Audible. It is available in print from Amazon. I listened to it whilst painting and found it more systematically and historically rigorous than the aforementioned Churchill work.

Specifically for Omdurman, Osprey provide a useful booklet Omdurman 1898: Kitchener's victory in the Sudan (Campaign) with a fantastic amount of photos, maps and drawings. Hardly surprising, since the author was none other than Donald Featherstone! Needless to say, it is a treasure trove for wargamers.

The last book is one that I am only just beginning myself, and that is Fire and Sword in the Sudan A Personal Narrative of Fighting and Serving the Dervishes 1879-1895 by Rudolf Carl Slatin. Slatin was an Austrian soldier and governor in the Sudan and is famous for having been a prisoner of the Mahdists, so he is likely to provide an interesting point-of-view.

A rather fanciful depiction from 1897. Source

That is all for now, as my own reading on the topic expands, I shall post those recommendations too. Needless to say, if you, gentle reader, have any recommendations, please do let me know in the comments. 

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