The River War PDF/EPUB ☆ The River PDF or

  • Paperback
  • 292 pages
  • The River War
  • Winston S. Churchill
  • English
  • 04 May 2017
  • 9781598184259

10 thoughts on “The River War

  1. Manny Manny says:

    A startling article by Robert Fisk in today's Independent. I figured I'd better make a copy in case it gets taken down or altered:

    Ukip couldn't better what Winston Churchill had to say about Muslims

    As the Havengore carried Churchill’s body down the Thames, I was not at all enjoying his funeral.

    A cub reporter on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, I was based in the frozen coal port of Blyth, where even the puddles of vomit outside the pubs frosted over on Sunday mornings. And the Blyth lifeboat – how all of us regretted it – had long ago been named the Winston S Churchill and even the town’s socialist dignitaries agreed that this blue-painted but life-saving barque should set off into the North Sea blizzards on 30 January 1965 with, you guessed it, a clutch of local reporters on board.

    A 19-year-old Fisk managed (just) to master his seasickness while a council flunky hurled a rather tatty wreath into the waters as the boat pitched horribly amid the waves.

    A colleague was later heard to remark that we could “thank fucking Churchill for that”, a comment that did not find its way into my report for the Chron.

    This, of course, was before the dung heap of history took a swing at the old man’s life. Gallipoli, the creation of fraudulent Arab satraps in the sandpits of Transjordania and Mesopotamia, the deployment of troops in the General Strike, Dresden, those old racist quotes (the Indians, the “fakir” Gandhi, the Red Indians); they’re all part of the “don’t-forget-what-a-shit-Churchill-was” coverage that would never have been published in our coverage of the funeral 50 years ago.

    But I have to report that Churchill had some pretty intemperate views about Muslims, which he expressed in the first edition of his 1899 account of the Sudan campaign, The River War – views so dark that he was persuaded to delete them from all later editions.

    “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism [sic] lays on its votaries!” Churchill wrote in this now almost unobtainable first edition. “Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy … Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture … exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.”

    There is much more on the enslavement of women and the dangers of Islam, along with the usual liberal sentiments which have their modern-day counterparts.

    “Moslems [sic] may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die: but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.”

    But there are a few, now-censored remarks which would have Isis and Boko Haram nodding in agreement. “No stronger retrograde force [than Islam] exists in the world,” the great man announced, but “…Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step…” If it were not for Christianity, “sheltered in the strong arms of science,” then “the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.” Ukip couldn’t better that.

    And Churchill was not alone among his contemporaries in denigrating the peoples of India and the Arab world. Politicians from India and Egypt impressed one of his fellow Europeans as “jabbering Orientals” and “mountebanks” who tried to convince Europe that the British Empire was about to collapse.

    “England will never lose India unless she gives way to racial confusion…,” he wrote. “Indian risings will never be successful… I…would far rather see India under British domination than that of any other nation.”

    These imperialist statements appear in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, whose English publishers, Hurst & Blackett, blurbed their 1938 edition with the advice that this is “a book everyone should read, for it reveals the forces and circumstances which went to make a remarkable character”.

    The trouble was that a lot of people did read Mein Kampf. The tragedy was that they didn’t take it seriously. Thanks be to God, therefore, that we had the author of The River War. My dad adored him so much that he persuaded Churchill to autograph the first volume of his Marlborough: His Life and Times. The book is beside me as I write these words. “Inscribed by Winston S Churchill 1948,” the Great Man wrote on the flyleaf. Volume Two got shorter shrift. “WSC” was all the old boy would give my dad there.

    Bill Fisk kept a massive, black-and-white photograph of Churchill above the fireplace at our old home in Maidstone; the 1940 Prime Minister glowering into the camera.

    When Bill died, my mum asked me if she could take the picture down. I agreed. I didn’t like Churchill very much, least of all after I wrote my PhD thesis on Ireland and WSC’s threats to invade the country during the Second World War when he declared that Eire was “at war but skulking”.

    But I was moved by Nicholas Soames’s comment that his grandfather was an “authentic” man – compared, at least, to the Cameron show which we had to watch last week as the current Prime Minister fawned over Churchill’s memory.

    As for Bill’s huge photograph, it has no place on my wall today. But I keep it still, in a little cupboard. You can’t throw Churchill away.

  2. Keith Keith says:

    The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan. By Winston Spencer Churchill. 2 vols. (London: Longmans, Green, and Co.,1899).

    For many people today to speak or hear of Winston Churchill is to be reminded of his valiant and indomitable leadership of Great Britain during the Second World War. This is proper and correct but Churchill's life encompassed much more than the wartime prime ministery. Reading his River War 114 years after its publication allows readers a glimpse into the early life and adventures of the young Winston and of the times that molded his character.

    Churchill graduated from the military academy at Sandhurst in 1895. He was twenty years old. Four years later he had already seen combat on the Indian frontier (and written a book about it) and then inveigled himself into the military force that Great Britain was sending to Egypt to put down the Madhi rebellion in the Sudan (or Soudan as it was then spelled). From this experience Churchill almost immediately began writing a book. Aside from the historical account that The River War so admirably relates, the book became for Churchill a new experience. His first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force(1898) was derived from newspaper dispatches that the enterprising young Churchill sent back to London. (Churchill occurred some emnity among the regular officers for making money out of his military service). The River War was to be a more comprehensive effort. The book reflects the beginnings of the writer who was to earn the Nobel Prize for Literaure fifty-three years later. In his delightful and entertaining autobiography, My Early Life, Churchill reflects on the style and writing of The River War:

    This work was extending in scope. From being a mere chronicle of the Omdurman campaign, it grew backwards into what was almost a history of the ruin and rescue of the Soudan. I read scores of books, indeed everything that had been published upon the subject; and I now planned a couple of fat volumes. I affected a combination ofthe styles of Macaulay and Gibbon, the staccato antitheses of the former and the rolling sentences and genitival endings of the latter; and I stuck in a bit of my own from time to time.

    This is certainly an understatement. Churchill clearly did read everything and its seems difficult to think what more he might have added. The fiinshed work was two volumes comprising almost a thousand pages. It was abridged in 1933 and that work is the one most available today. The first edition is a massive book and one can see where some of the details might easily be erased with no harm done to the whole; however, Churchill was fastidious and that effort shows.

    Churchill's developing style is much in evidence, a kind of playfulness that is more ironic and saracastic when he comes to write his history of the Second World War. Two of my favorite sentences from The River War:

    “A mile away to the rear the gunboats, irritated that the fight was passing beyond their reach, steamed restlessly up and down, like caged Polar bears seeking what they might devour.”

    “At the end of the next march, which was made by day, the guides, whose memories had been refreshed by flogging, discovered a large pool of good water, and all drank deeply in thankful joy.”

    The book is steeped in the world-view of empire, of the white man's destiny to lead the barbarians to civilization. Churchill is constant in referring to Muslim rebels and the Soudanese and Egyptian natives in the British forces as savages and primitives. On the other hand, he clearly admires the bravery and tenacity of the Dervishes who comprised the Madhi's army. Churchill is at pains to identify every Emir or other leader who fought with the Madhi's army. He characterizes the entire campaign as being fought between antique and modern forces. In this he is surely right. Muskets, cannon, Maxim machine guns and Nile gunboats were unlikely to falter against horsemen with swords.

    The account of the march down the Nile from Egypt is a highlight of the book. Forced by the need for fresh water to stay within sight of the Nile the British and Egyptian forces nonetheless, forded the Nile cataracts, built a railway for easier resupply, manhandled gunboats over the cataracts and fought several giant set piece battles against an enemy which vastly outnumbered them, if only in manpower.

    Churchill is remarkedly clearheaded about the effects, both good and bad, of imperialism. In the book he succinctly describes the tragic consequences of the clash between ancients and moderns:
    Wild peoples, ignorant of their barbarism, callous of suffering, careless of life but tenacious of liberty, are seen to resist with fury the philanthropic invaders, and to perish in thousands before they are convinced of their mistake. The inevitable gap between conquest and dominion becomes filled with the figures of the greedy trader, the inopportune missionary, the ambitious soldier, and the lying speculator, who disquiet the minds of the conquered and excite the sordid appetites of the conquerors. And as the eye of thought rests on these sinister features, it hardly seems possible for us to believe that any fair prospect is approached by so foul a path.
    (italics added)

    After 9/11 Churchill was often quoted in various contexts. The River War was plumbed containing as it does a war between British imperialism and Muslim troops. Churchill is perceptive in describing the roots of the Muslim revolt. He notes that religion was not the cause of the revolt but a pretext that was fuelled by fanaticism. He also notes that the Sudanese had many reasons to revolt. In this we may see reflections of our current situation.

  3. Joseph Guido Joseph Guido says:

    Ever read something that made you feel wholly inadequate in your writing…if not your thinking? I am on my fourth reading of “The River War” and each time I read it, the sheer brilliance and eloquence of Winston Churchill dumbfounds, confounds, and hounds me. Churchill is a man genius and this book, a history written so very early in his life and career at the very end of the 19th Century, give great insight into the man much later in life and career who was to forge some of the greatest decisions and make history in the 20th Century.

    “The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan” is magisterial in register, poetic in meter, and completely modern in manner. Magisterial because Churchill speaks from his personal experiences in the War as well as his interactions with other soldiers and leaders, not-to-forget the extensive research Churchill did to cut through the fog and friction of battle to clearly outline the progression of the military campaign and its history. Poetic because Churchill uses a beautiful English, precise syntax, but easy voice throughout—perfectly balanced with care for the ear and an absolute joy to read. Modern because Churchill astoundingly breaks with the first-person, highly personal, often stiff, travelogue or memoire style of the time for an incredibly modern and sweeping account of this conflict with global reach. It is here where I give Churchill the greatest deference: he incorporates an astounding quantity of information from a huge region to place the conflict, and specifically his experiences, into a far-reaching geopolitical and socio-cultural context. Although this is really the standard today-it was not then and almost unheard of in his day. I cannot think of anything like it before him outside Tolstoy, and Tolstoy was writing fiction (although based upon a profound understanding of real events and personalities), although Thucydides comes to mind.

    It is his sense of “the political” (in the translated words of Clausewitz; “der Politik” from his famous Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln) in military affairs which is both so rare and so important…surely becoming critical to Churchill when the world most needed a cool and deliberate leader at the helm—one can easily hear him with his gruff voice advising to “Keep Calm and Carry On.” His coolness and deliberation were surely constructed out of experiences and projects such as “The River War.” In his later words: “Character may be manifested in the great moments. But it is made in the small ones.” I often imagine Churchill drawing upon the character formed from an infinite number of small moments bitterly fighting The Mahdiyya in the wilds, hardships, and deprivation of the Sudanese desert.

    Which brings me to my final point of praise: the timelessness of truth. In setting the stage in Chapter 1, he observes that “Fanaticism is not a cause of war…. It has therefore been stated, and is to some extent believed, that the revolt in the Soudan was entirely religious. If the worst untruths are those that have some appearance of veracity, this impression must be very false indeed. It is, perhaps, an historical fact that the revolt of a large population has never been caused solely or even mainly by religious enthusiasm.” Well said, old Chap.

    In a world where Osama Bin Laden started a renegade terrorist organization translated as “The Refuge” (Al Qaeda) founded some strange form of Islamic extremism in the very same Sudan where Churchill fought, where the United States embarked on a “Global War On Terrorism” largely aimed at attacking the sins of extremists like Bin Laden, where groups not far from Sudan are forming “Islamic States” which seem strikingly similar to The Mahdiyya of 19th Century Sudan, and today where the Sudanese military has recently overthrown President Bashir with no clear way forward, “The River War” should be read by all—with an aim at understanding its many lessons.

  4. Stinger Stinger says:

    Churchill knows how to tell a good story, and he does so with vigor on this occasion. One lesson that can be gleamed from the conflict described in the pages of this book is the following: opposing war parties may have differing moral justification for their actions. In this tale, the Muslim uprising was in response in part to hypocrisy displayed by the religious and political authorities; thus the rise of the Mahdi was a return to piety. The British sought justice for the killing of General Gordon and disorder brought about by the revolution against Egyptian rule. Both parties felt justified and both parties, no doubt, contained some persons of corrupt character who acted in such a manner as to facilitate the conflict.

  5. Luise Luise says:

    The main reason why I read this book was to gain an insight into contemporary reports and thoughts after having read Edward Zaid's Orientalism. And who better to study than an imperialist who thought himself above anyone and anything simply because he was British, he truely did not disappoint. Now, if you read this hoping for a great story, I'd say you'll be disappointed with his lack of actual story telling but it is a great look into British colonialism. Best read with some prior insight into colonial sentiments and history/anthropology.

  6. Rik Brooymans Rik Brooymans says:

    The other books in my shelf would seem to indicate I'm a Winston Churchill fan. I'm not quite sure what it is about his writing. Perhaps it's the old fashioned view on the world that romanticised the business of empire. Churchill would be strung up by some of the PC brigade these days, but he makes none of his generalizations our of malice or avarice and is speaking of personal opinions gained through time in the field. Still, some of the descriptions take a while to get used to.

    The book does a good job in describing the British attempt to defeat the Mahdist forces that embarrassed them a few years before. The inexorable march toward victory and the complete lack of any hope for the Mahdist forces meant that it took some literary skill to keep it interesting. But interesting it was.

  7. Tamer Alshazly Tamer Alshazly says:

    No question he is a good story teller, but strange enough he did not write the story! Full of malintentions and grude for the Egyptian authority and Egypt in general, he failed in being anything but a minor war correspondent. In summary the book will tell you - with the longest nose- that evey negative action or halt is due to egyptians and any opposite is due to the good hands of the brits!!!
    How hypocrate can you be, no body will ever know as the sky is your limit.
    Poor history book, full of nonsense and disgusting selfishness, i only wonder for what did you list the references in the face of your book if you will never read, nevertheless you may never understand. Chirchul is a huge lie just comic actor but what can we say, luck is luck!!!

  8. Eric Chevlen Eric Chevlen says:

    Before he was a politician, Winston Churchill was a soldier and journalist. This book is a marvelous telling of the Egyptian and British campaign in the Sudan in the late 19th century. Churchill pays particular and appropriate attention to the logistics that allowed the British to deliver men and arms to a distant desert campaign. The book is chock-a-block with typical Chuchillian turns of phrase. Recommended to those interested in military history or the ongoing conflict between Christendom and the Islamic world.

  9. David Mcelroy David Mcelroy says:

    River War to free a people.

    The River War shows that at times it is left to outsiders to free people's from tyrannical powers. In this case it is Islamic tyranny, as it is today. It has been left unchecked by distant governments too long. There will come a time when the slavers must be stopped once more before they become a dominant world power.

  10. Nat Bond Nat Bond says:

    An interesting history of a war that I had never heard of.

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The River War✈ [PDF / Epub] ✅ The River War By Winston S. Churchill ✸ – Here Sir Winston S Churchill—the same man who would go on to lead the free world through its darkest hours during the second world war—tells the tale of the AngloEgyptian reconquest of the Sudan I Here Sir Winston S Churchill—the same man who would go on to lead the free world through its darkest hours during the second world war—tells the tale of the AngloEgyptian reconquest of the Sudan It isn't just an account of the battles and the politics; it's the story of the destiny of the people of the region: Churchill with his powerful insight tells how the war changed The River PDF or the fates of England, Egypt, and the Arabian peoples in northeast Africa In vivid style the book describes the background to the war, the relationship of the Upper Nile to Egypt, the murder of General Charles George Gordon in the siege at Khartoum, the political reaction in England, and Kitchener's elaborate preparations for the war While in the Sudan, Churchill participated in the Battle of Omdurman Churchill comments at length on the mechanisation of war with use of the telegraph, railroad, and a new generation of weaponry.

About the Author: Winston S. Churchill

Winston Churchill, Winston S Churchill offered to use his middle initial in any works that he authored.