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Smith-Dorrien: Isandlwhana to the Great War

Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 896
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Have just seen that below on Amazon. I take it that this is Memories of Forty-Eight Years Service (John Murray, London, 1925) repackaged.

The web says:

This is the autobiography of Smith-Dorrien, one of the most notable British military figures of the mid-Victorian and Edwardian ages. The author's first experiences of military life were nearly his last and in this book we are given a vital and chilling account of what it was to be one of the few surviving officers to flee from the Zulu impis at Isandlwhana. Interesting service in Egypt, the Sudan, and the Boer War follows as Smith-Dorrien's career develops and he becomes a talented and highly regarded staff officer. His works during the opening campaigns of the Great War are now properly regarded as superb generalship which probably saved the army, but it also earned the enmity of French, his superior, who all but ended his career. A brilliant autobiography by a fine soldier who every reader will come to admire as a military man and a person with each turn of the page.

Paperback: 564 pages
Publisher: Leonaur Ltd (11 May 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1846776791
ISBN-13: 978-1846776793

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Peter Ewart

Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Yes, looks like it. I saw it had been republished a year or so back but I do wish they wouldn't release works like this under different titles, unless as an explanatory sub-title.

I'm very fortunate to have been given my (1925) copy from S-D's biographer himself, A.J Smithers (author of The Man who Disobeyed).

The autobiography is, like many military memoirs, definitely worth having but is very typical of those of the time by men of his position. Fairly light, certainly interesting on the AZW and later campaigns (although demonstrating the fallibility of accounts written nearly half a century after the event!) but published primarily to put the score right - or "defend his reputation" - on the Le Cateau business, and of course the bulk of the work is naturally devoted to the first few months of the Great War. Or not quite the bulk, but about a quarter.

In fact, didn't I see a couple of years ago the full text was also available online? The original usually goes for around 50-75 these days - so yet another wonderful tome on the shelves nose-dives in resale value!!!


P.S. Still, thank goodness his pursuers didn't catch the young man - world history might (would!) have been very different indeed. I suppose only Lukin exceeds the length of S-D's active service from 1879 to the Great War and with such seniority. Unless there are others?
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David Rae

Joined: 20 Feb 2019
Posts: 9
Location: Melksham UK
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I tried to find the autobiography of Smith-Dorrien, who escaped from Isandlwana and note that the part relating to this particular battle and Rorke's Drift is in the very first Chapter and may be viewed here free of charge by clicking on the "Look inside" icon just above the picture of the book.
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Smith-Dorrien: Isandlwhana to the Great War
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