Pen & Sword, £19.99
ISBN 978-1848841802

This book provides an analysis of intelligence gathering and implementation during the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. The author has correctly identified this as an overlooked area in the recent burgeoning of intelligence studies.

A wide of range of individuals are covered in this engaging study, from commanders and diplomats, to spies and scouts. Wade demonstrates how the intelligence methods deployed were fragmentary and often of an ad hoc nature. The marginalised status of South Africa in the mindset of the British military command meant their attention was focussed elsewhere, particularly on the predicted conflict with Russia.

Because of the unique political structure of Zululand and Natal, it could not be dealt with in a similar diplomatic fashion to other locations. Poor levels of communication and understanding of native societies also hindered the process of intelligence gathering.

There are some extraordinary stories described in this book. John Dunn, a settler of Scottish descent who had an intense knowledge and appreciation for Zulu culture, sided with the British during the Anglo-Zulu war and eventually became ruler over a significant area of Zululand.

There are also glimpses of Baden-Powell, whose experience of gathering intelligence in the field would later feature in the formation of his Scouting movement.

This book will be of great interest to readers interested in the development of military intelligence, although some prior knowledge of the Anglo-Zulu war is required in order to get the most from it.

Dr Jonathan Eaton

Leave a Reply