Reviews by Colin Killick

Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon

by Jules Verne

I found this book quite tedious.

There really wasn't enough in it for a full novel, though it might have made a good short story. About 60 pages in I started to skip 10 pages at a time and found I could pick up the thread no problem at all - not much was happening.

Having spent time in the Amazon, it also quickly became apparent to me that the author hadn't been there.

Only for keen Jules Verne fans.

Reviewed on 2013.03.21

Civil War Experiences, 1862-1865

by Edward Mott Robbins

Considering Edward Mott Robbins served in the Civil War from 1862 to 1865 and survived some serious campaigns, including Chickamauga, Sherman\'s march to Savannah, Atlanta and many others, it is remarkable that this book so short - under 30 pages.

The book is an abbreviated diary of events of Robbins\' time with the 78th Illinois, together with a scattering of anecdotes. Robbin\'s references to the First World War suggest it was written late in his life, and it does have the feel of granddad\'s fireside reminiscences.

While the material is fascinating, coming as it does from someone who took part in the Civil War, I didn\'t find it particularly engaging. Robbins seems quite detached from the events he witnessed. Perhaps due to the passing of 40 or more years from those events to the writing of these brief memoirs.

Worth the hour it takes to read.

Reviewed on 2013.03.06

The River War

by Winston S. Churchill

An account of the events leading to the defeat of the Sudanese at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 by the British under Kitchener.

Originally written in two volumes in 1899, Churchill later revised the text down to a single volume, of which this is a copy.

The book is a valuable text, but is not always easy to read as narrative history. Churchill’s style often tends to be unwieldy and the casual reader may find themselves swamped with characters and places. An atlas of Sudan is essential, and a notebook to record names is helpful.

The book is of particular interest as Churchill was an eye-witness to many of the events, being an officer in the 21st Lancers. Particularly fascinating is his account of a cavalry charge at Omdurman, in which he participated. Britain was fortunate he made it alive to the Second World War.

The account of the Battle of Omdurman, towards the end of the book, makes the most gripping reading. However, the detailed accounts of troop movements and deployments may leave the reader wondering who did what where.

Much is revealed about the 23 year old Churchill’s view of the world and he reveals himself to have been an imperialistic bigot. As a product of Victorian England at the peak of empire, this is probably an unremarkable attitude for a young Englishmen of the time.

Don’t expect an easy bedtime read, but it is an interesting contemporaneous history and worth the effort if you have any interest in the place and period.

Reviewed on 2013.03.02

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