Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kitchener: "Road to Omdurman" and "Savior of the Realm" by John Pollock

Kitchener: "Road to Omdurman" and "Savior of the Realm" by John Pollock is a very positive biography of this controversial figure in British military history. This combineds the two volumes published separately into a single one. So the book is pretty long.

Pollock describes Kitchener's youth including his mother's death. He claims this explains Kitchener's lack of relationships in later life. His military career is described from his experience as a surveyor in the Middle East through the campaign in the Sudan. There's also coverage of the Boer War. I was surprised to see his time in India covered so expensively in particular the dual control controversy. The first world war is only about 20% of the book.

My biggest problem is the tone of the book. The entire thing reads as a case for the defense. Kitchener: never did anything wrong. Now I understand from the introduction that the author managed to get a lot of access to previously unused material from the family so perhaps that helps explain it. This lack of objectivity takes away from a very interesting story.

Recommended although I wonder if there's a rebuttal somewhere.

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