100 books like The Diary of Henry Francis Fynn

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Here are 100 books that The Diary of Henry Francis Fynn fans have personally recommended if you like The Diary of Henry Francis Fynn. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Shaka Zulu: The Rise of the Zulu Empire

Gareth Williams Author Of Serving Shaka

From my list on Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied the history of sub-Saharan Africa at the University of Cambridge. Study revealed to me how complicated was the region and how contested the history of a place and people could be. I'm a white man with a love for southern African history. There are white Africans. The history of the continent is their history too. But the preponderance of records were created by white writers, until relatively recently, and this always threatened to obscure the Black experience, Black actions, Black history. In Shaka Zulu, I found a character who wasn't reacting, on the whole, to external actions, but forging a Black empire, a Zulu empire, as the result of internal forces and experiences. 

Gareth's book list on Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation

Gareth Williams Why did Gareth love this book?

This was the first book I read on Shaka Zulu. The cover of the paperback version was enough to entice a curious twelve-year-old! More than that, it was my father’s book and had clearly meant something to him. But most of all, it tells the incredible story of an outcast who built an empire only to be assassinated by his own brother! Ritter recounts the myths and facts that surround Shaka, never shying away from the limitations of his evidence but painting a compelling biography.

I recommend this book as a happy medium between two extremes. It is unlike those works vilifying Shaka as a monstrous tyrant directly and indirectly responsible for a trail of death across almost a third of Africa. But it is equally different from those that sanctify Shaka as the leonine warrior-king who forged a nation that wields power to this day. There will always be…

By E.A. Ritter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shaka Zulu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Washing of the Spears: The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation

Gareth Williams Author Of Serving Shaka

From my list on Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied the history of sub-Saharan Africa at the University of Cambridge. Study revealed to me how complicated was the region and how contested the history of a place and people could be. I'm a white man with a love for southern African history. There are white Africans. The history of the continent is their history too. But the preponderance of records were created by white writers, until relatively recently, and this always threatened to obscure the Black experience, Black actions, Black history. In Shaka Zulu, I found a character who wasn't reacting, on the whole, to external actions, but forging a Black empire, a Zulu empire, as the result of internal forces and experiences. 

Gareth's book list on Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation

Gareth Williams Why did Gareth love this book?

This is a big book, thoroughly researched but accessibly written. Morris has a military background and sees things from a strategic perspective. He wrote this book at almost the same time as Ritter’s biography of Shaka but his focus was subtly different. He seeks to evaluate not just Shaka’s nation-building but what followed, most especially the Anglo-Zulu war that culminated in the destruction of the Zulu military at Isandhlwana. As such, this book serves as a perfect companion piece to Ritter’s work. I enjoyed the immersive nature of Morris’s account as it spanned most of the nineteenth century. It gives telling insights into the British Empire’s strengths and weaknesses and does the same for the Zulu state that built on Shaka’s innovations. This book helped me set Shaka’s story in a wider context and for that alone it deserves a place on this list.

By Donald R. Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Washing of the Spears as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Filled with colourful characters, dramatic battles like Isandhlwana and Rorke's Drift, and an inexorable narrative momentum, this unsurpassed history details the sixty-year existence of the world's mightiest African empire,from its brutal formation and zenith under the military genius Shaka (1787-1828), through its inevitable collision with white expansionism, to its dissolution under Cetshwayo in the Zulu War of 1879.


Book cover of The Anatomy of the Zulu Army: From Shaka to Cetshwayo, 1818-1879

Gareth Williams Author Of Serving Shaka

From my list on Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied the history of sub-Saharan Africa at the University of Cambridge. Study revealed to me how complicated was the region and how contested the history of a place and people could be. I'm a white man with a love for southern African history. There are white Africans. The history of the continent is their history too. But the preponderance of records were created by white writers, until relatively recently, and this always threatened to obscure the Black experience, Black actions, Black history. In Shaka Zulu, I found a character who wasn't reacting, on the whole, to external actions, but forging a Black empire, a Zulu empire, as the result of internal forces and experiences. 

Gareth's book list on Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation

Gareth Williams Why did Gareth love this book?

This is a serious piece of research recounted in an easily readable form. Ian Knight chronicles the historical context within which the Zulu military complex evolved. He outlines the effects it had on Zulu society. He examines the customs, the development of weapons, and concomitant tactics that allowed a small clan to grow into the dominant power across a vast swathe of southern Africa. Knight details military life and lists all known regiments and commanders. While this book satisfies a purist’s hunger for detail, it never fails to be informative and interesting for the more casual reader. I enjoyed it for the details that proved so useful to the writing of my own novel but I also admired it as an example of how to write a scholarly work without excluding the layman.

By Ian Kinght,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Anatomy of the Zulu Army as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Forces of the independent Zulu kingdom inflicted a crushing defeat on British imperial forces at Isandlwana in January 1879. The Zulu Army was not, however, a professional force, unlike its British counterpart, but was the mobilized manpower of the Zulu state. Ian Knight details how the Zulu army functioned and ties its role firmly to the broader context of Zulu society and culture. The Zulu army had its roots in the early groups of young men who took part in combats between tribes, but such warfare was limited to disputes over cattle ownership, grazing rights, or avenging insults. In the…


Book cover of The Zulu Aftermath: A Nineteenth-Century Revolution in Bantu Africa

Gareth Williams Author Of Serving Shaka

From my list on Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied the history of sub-Saharan Africa at the University of Cambridge. Study revealed to me how complicated was the region and how contested the history of a place and people could be. I'm a white man with a love for southern African history. There are white Africans. The history of the continent is their history too. But the preponderance of records were created by white writers, until relatively recently, and this always threatened to obscure the Black experience, Black actions, Black history. In Shaka Zulu, I found a character who wasn't reacting, on the whole, to external actions, but forging a Black empire, a Zulu empire, as the result of internal forces and experiences. 

Gareth's book list on Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation

Gareth Williams Why did Gareth love this book?

This was a controversial book when I was studying southern African history at university. What became known as Africanist historians were challenging the ability of white researchers to write objectively about Africa. Not least, they claimed the dominant narrative was almost entirely written from a white perspective in which Black actors were portrayed as little more than pawns. Omer-Cooper took as his subject those Black Africans, most especially those occupying what we know as South Africa. But he sparked another academic controversy. He described the Mfecane, the displacement of peoples sparked by the emergence of the Zulu state. His critics, most notably Julian Cobbing rejected this view. They pointed to the growing demand for slaves, largely driven by white traders and assisted by British military forces, as the true cause of the upheavals of the period. I was thrilled to follow the exchanges between these two historians in the journal…

By J.D. Omer-Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Zulu Aftermath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A detailed history of the 19th-century Zulu expansion in southern Africa, and the ongoing impact of that movement on the region, with chapters on the Swazi, Ngoni, Basuto, Ndebele, and more.


Book cover of Terrific Majesty: The Powers of Shaka Zulu and the Limits of Historical Invention

James Oliver Gump Author Of The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux

From my list on the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor emeritus of history at the University of San Diego, and taught courses in African and South African history for over three decades. I have also written a number articles placing African topics in comparative perspective, including “A Spirit of Resistance:  Xhosa, Maori, and Sioux Responses to Western Dominance, 1840-1920” and “Unveiling the Third Force: Toward Transitional Justice in the USA and South Africa, 1973-1994,” as well as three books: The Formation of the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa and two editions of The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux

James' book list on the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom

James Oliver Gump Why did James love this book?

Hamilton offers a thought-provoking monograph on the persistence of Shaka as a metaphor in South African history and politics and the changing representations of the famous Zulu king over time. Hamilton argues that the image of Shaka, contrary to most post-modernist interpretations, was not simply a colonial invention. Instead, she argues that Shaka’s image gained its durability and complexity from a mix of indigenous narratives as well as colonial ones.

By Carolyn Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Terrific Majesty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since his assassination in 1828, King Shaka Zulu-founder of the powerful Zulu kingdom and leader of the army that nearly toppled British colonial rule in South Africa-has made his empire in popular imaginations throughout Africa and the West. Shaka is today the hero of Zulu nationalism, the centerpiece of Inkatha ideology, a demon of apartheid, the namesake of a South African theme park, even the subject of a major TV film.

Terrific Majesty explores the reasons for the potency of Shaka's image, examining the ways it has changed over time-from colonial legend, through Africanist idealization, to modern cultural icon. This…


Book cover of The Rise & Fall of the Zulu Nation

Ian F.W. Beckett Author Of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift

From my list on Zulus and the Zulu War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Honorary Professor of Military History at the University of Kent, having retired from teaching there in 2015. I have held professorial chairs in both the UK and the US. Most of my books have been on the history of the British Army, including on the First World War and, especially, the late Victorian Army between 1872 and 1902. Like others of my generation, I was greatly influenced by the 1964 film Zulu with Stanley Baker and Michael Caine. The Zulu War has always fascinated me so here is my selection of the best books on Zulus and the war.   

Ian's book list on Zulus and the Zulu War

Ian F.W. Beckett Why did Ian love this book?

Originally published as Rope of Sand in South Africa in 1995, this is a brilliant overview of the story of the Zulu from the days of their rise under Shaka to the tragedy of the Bhambatha Rebellion in 1906. No one knows the Zulu sources better than John Laband, who has written extensively on the war. He weaves Zulu oral tradition and contemporary European accounts into a vivid narrative of Zulu history. Full coverage is given to the Anglo-Zulu War but what I particularly value is the wider context of the contest between Briton, Boer, and Zulu that shaped the course of South African history.     

By John Laband,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rise & Fall of the Zulu Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published as "Rope of Sand" in South Africa, this account of the dramatic emergence and decline of the Zulu kingdom in the 19th century is the culmination of 15 years of research.


Book cover of Zulu With Some Guts Behind It: The Making of the Epic Movie

Ian F.W. Beckett Author Of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift

From my list on Zulus and the Zulu War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Honorary Professor of Military History at the University of Kent, having retired from teaching there in 2015. I have held professorial chairs in both the UK and the US. Most of my books have been on the history of the British Army, including on the First World War and, especially, the late Victorian Army between 1872 and 1902. Like others of my generation, I was greatly influenced by the 1964 film Zulu with Stanley Baker and Michael Caine. The Zulu War has always fascinated me so here is my selection of the best books on Zulus and the war.   

Ian's book list on Zulus and the Zulu War

Ian F.W. Beckett Why did Ian love this book?

Who could resist a full account of the making of Stanley Baker’s 1964 epic? From the genesis of the idea through the evolution of the script, production in South Africa and Britain, the premier, and the reaction to the movie, this is a must-have book for all fans of the film. Hall mined film archives and interviews with the actors and filmmakers to reconstruct the story of the film. It is copiously illustrated in colour as well as black and white with location photographs, posters, and cartoons. A particular highlight is the exploration of ‘myths, gaffes, and spoofs’.   

By Sheldon Hall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zulu With Some Guts Behind It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shipped from UK, please allow 10 to 21 business days for arrival. Very Good, A very good, clean and sound copy with dust jacket. Zulu: with some guts behind it: the making of the epic movie. 431 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm.. . Includes bibliographical references (p. [415]-419) and index.. .


Book cover of The Washing of the Spears: A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation under Shaka and its fall in the Zulu War of 1879

James Oliver Gump Author Of The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux

From my list on the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor emeritus of history at the University of San Diego, and taught courses in African and South African history for over three decades. I have also written a number articles placing African topics in comparative perspective, including “A Spirit of Resistance:  Xhosa, Maori, and Sioux Responses to Western Dominance, 1840-1920” and “Unveiling the Third Force: Toward Transitional Justice in the USA and South Africa, 1973-1994,” as well as three books: The Formation of the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa and two editions of The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux

James' book list on the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom

James Oliver Gump Why did James love this book?

Morris’s history of the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom remains a classic. Trained as a journalist, Morris presents a vivid, lively, and compelling narrative, tracing the rise of Shaka’s Zulu kingdom, the outbreak of war in 1879, and the tragic aftermath of civil war and national disintegration. Although more recent scholarship casts doubt on some of Morris’s assertions, his book remains the starting point for understanding the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

By Donald R. Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Washing of the Spears as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1879, armed only with their spears, their rawhide shields, and their incredible courage, the Zulus challenged the might of Victorian England and, initially, inflicted on the British the worst defeat a modern army has ever suffered at the hands of men without guns. This definitive account of the rise of the Zulu nation under the great ruler Shaka and its fall under Cetshwayo has been acclaimed for its scholarship, its monumental range, and its spellbinding readability. The story is studded with tales of drama and heroism: the Battle of Isandhlwana, where the Zulu army wiped out the major British…


Book cover of Zulu Rising: The Epic Story of iSandlwana and Rorke's Drift

Ian F.W. Beckett Author Of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift

From my list on Zulus and the Zulu War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Honorary Professor of Military History at the University of Kent, having retired from teaching there in 2015. I have held professorial chairs in both the UK and the US. Most of my books have been on the history of the British Army, including on the First World War and, especially, the late Victorian Army between 1872 and 1902. Like others of my generation, I was greatly influenced by the 1964 film Zulu with Stanley Baker and Michael Caine. The Zulu War has always fascinated me so here is my selection of the best books on Zulus and the war.   

Ian's book list on Zulus and the Zulu War

Ian F.W. Beckett Why did Ian love this book?

Many popular accounts of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift have been published since the 1960s but, if I had to choose just one, then it has to be Ian Knight’s account. A frequent visitor (and guide) to the war’s battlefields, all of Knight’s accumulated knowledge of the events at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift was poured into this fine study. He writes well, particularly illuminating the characters of the main British and Zulu protagonists and the experiences of men in battle, as well as examining the continuing controversies surrounding the British defeat at Isandlwana.   

By Ian Knight,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Zulu Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The battle of iSandlwana was the single most destructive incident in the 150-year history of the British colonisation of South Africa. In one bloody day over 800 British troops, 500 of their allies and at least 2000 Zulus were killed in a staggering defeat for the British empire. The consequences of the battle echoed brutally across the following decades as Britain took ruthless revenge on the Zulu people.

In Zulu Rising Ian Knight shows that the brutality of the battle was the result of an inevitable clash between two aggressive warrior traditions. For the first time he gives full weight…


Book cover of The Boiling Cauldron: Utrecht District and the Anglo-Zulu War, 1879

Ian F.W. Beckett Author Of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift

From my list on Zulus and the Zulu War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Honorary Professor of Military History at the University of Kent, having retired from teaching there in 2015. I have held professorial chairs in both the UK and the US. Most of my books have been on the history of the British Army, including on the First World War and, especially, the late Victorian Army between 1872 and 1902. Like others of my generation, I was greatly influenced by the 1964 film Zulu with Stanley Baker and Michael Caine. The Zulu War has always fascinated me so here is my selection of the best books on Zulus and the war.   

Ian's book list on Zulus and the Zulu War

Ian F.W. Beckett Why did Ian love this book?

Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift have overshadowed the other battles of the war. By way of contrast, Huw Jones provides a detailed study of the British No. 4 Column commanded by Sir Evelyn Wood and its actions at Hlobane and Kambula in March 1879. Like Isandlwana, Hlobane was a disaster, which was mitigated the next day by the repulse of the main Zulu army at Kambula. The Utrecht District, from which Wood operated, was also a key area in which British, Boer, and Zulu interests clashed. Jones’s book deserves to be much better known as a fine study of the political complexities of the region in question before and during the war, as well as providing expert analysis of the military operations there.  

By Huw M. Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boiling Cauldron as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shipped from UK, please allow 10 to 21 business days for arrival. Very Good, A very good, near fine copy in red cloth boards, gold gilt title on spine with a very good, near fine dust jacket.


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