Sunday, 22 March 2009

Book of the week and bibliography - Saul David, Zulu Hart

Zulu Hart is the first novel from historian/broadcaster Saul David. David has previously published a very well received history of the Zulu Wars, and we can therefore assume that the historical detail of the novel is likely to be accurate. On top of this has been introduced a back story featuring a young man with a mysterious background attempting to make a career in the army. The book could fairly be described as a page turner – it moves very quickly, and tends to take a simple approach to characterisation. The characters tend either to be very good or very bad, and have little depth. The author in his afterword draws attention to the Flashman novels as inspiration, but does not mention at all the very collectible Simon Fonthill novels of John Wilcox, with which this book seems to have much more in common. The novel has been heavily promoted, and is widely available. It is unlikely to feature on any prize lists, but would be a good holiday read. In addition, it will probably be the first in a series and may have value in the future if the series is successful.

“George Hart is the bastard son of a pillar of the British military establishment and a half Irish, half Zulu actress. 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 fathr 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.”


Zulu Hart (Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2009)
Hart of Empire (Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2010)

Churchill's Sacrifice of the Highland Division: France 1940 (Brassey’s, London, 1994)Mutiny At Salerno: An Injustice Exposed (Brassey’s, London, 1995)The Homicidal Earl (Little Brown, London, 1997)
Military Blunders: The How and Why of Military Failure (Constable and Robinson, London, 1997)
Prince of Pleasure (Little Brown, London, 1998)
The Indian Mutiny: 1857 (Viking, London, 2002)
Zulu: The Heroism and Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879 (London, Viking, 2004)
Victoria's Wars: The Rise of Empire (Viking, London, 2006)

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