ISLAM-BASHING IN CHURCHILL: CHURCHILL’S 1899 BOOK “THE RIVER WAR”

June 15, 2008 at 8:05 am | Posted in Africa, Books, Globalization, History, Islam, Third World, United Kingdom | Leave a comment

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The River War:

An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan

The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan is an 1899 book written by historian Winston Churchill while he was still an officer in the British army.

Technology:

Churchill comments at length on the mechanization of war with use of the telegraph, railroad, and a new generation of weaponry.

Islam-Bashing:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property 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. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. 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. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.[2]

The book provides a history of the British involvement in the Sudan and the conflict between the British forces led by Lord Kitchener and Dervish forces led by a self proclaimed Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad who had embarked on a campaign to conquer Egypt, to drive out the non-Muslim infidels and make way for the second coming of the Islamic Mahdi.

It also contains vivid narratives of personal adventures of the author, his views on British expansionism, passages of deep reflection about the requirements of a civilized government, criticism of military and political leaders and very harsh commentary on Mohammedanism.[1]

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property 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. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. 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. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.[2]

The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan is an 1899 book written by historian Winston Churchill while he was still an officer in the British army.

The book provides a history of the British involvement in the Sudan and the conflict between the British forces led by Lord Kitchener and Dervish forces led by a self proclaimed Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad who had embarked on a campaign to conquer Egypt, to drive out the non-Muslim infidels and make way for the second coming of the Islamic Mahdi.

The River War

The River War was Churchill’s second published book after The Story of the Malakand Field Force, and originally filled two volumes with over 1000 pages in 1899. The River War was subsequently abridged to one volume in 1902.

1899 saw the unabridged, two-volume edition.

The unabridged version contains many illustrations with drawings, photogravures, and colored maps.

Content

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, the last British cavalry charge in battle.

Churchill comments at length on the mechanization of war with use of the telegraph, railroad, and a new generation of weaponry.

The young Churchill, as much a journalist and adventurer and political candidate as soldier, had placed himself into Lord Kitchener’s campaign up the Nile, obtaining a post in the 21st Lancers, against Kitchener’s wishes.

The River War was Churchill’s second published book after The Story of the Malakand Field Force, and originally filled two volumes with over 1000 pages in 1899. The River War was subsequently abridged to one volume in 1902.

In 1902 Churchill had become a member of parliament, it was thought that the commentary about some of the parliamentary members contained in the first volume had better be excised in a revised edition. The book was thus edited down to one single volume, removing a great deal of controversial content. The book over the 20th century was republished numerous times with increasing amounts of excisions.

1902 edition abridges 1899 book into one-volume edition

The River War becomes one-volume abridged edition.

References

  1. Richard M. Langworth, A Connoisseur’s Guide to the Books of Sir Winston Churchill p. 24.

  2. Winston S. Churchill, The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899).

Comment: Churchill comments at length on the mechanization of war with use of the telegraph, railroad, and a new generation of weaponry.

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