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Like Wolves on the Fold:The Defence of Rorke's Drift

Snook, Lt. Col Mike
ISBN 1-85367-659-4.

Like Wolves on the Fold:The Defence of Rorke's DriftLike Wolves on the Fold: The Defence of Rorke's Drift
ISBN 1-85367-659-4.
By Lt. Col Mike Snook

Review by Dawn Grant

It is easy to see where Like Wolves on the Fold neatly dovetails into How Can a Man Die Better. This book takes up where the latter one left off - with the fugitives arriving at Rorke's Drift with their harrowing tale. And, in most cases, promptly leaving again for the safety of Helpmekaar. As Mike points out, who can blame them? They came within inches of losing their lives and they wanted no more of it.
Mike acknowledges that it is beneficial to the reader to have first read How Can a Man Die Better but it is not absolutely necessary as the story of Rorke's Drift stands on its own. However it is in the latter part of the book that a previous reading of his first book becomes necessary in order to appreciate it.
The tale of Rorke's Drift is written in the same concise and explanatory manner as How Can a Man Die Better. The reader is immediately drawn into the plight of the defenders who, up until that moment, had been enjoying a leisurely, if somewhat boring day, at the mission. When news first reaches them, there is disbelief and then a growing realization that, if they are to survive, something needs to be done.
The battle is described in such a way that one can follow the ebb and flow of the Zulu attack and the decisive manner in which it was repelled, with varying degrees of success. If you thought you knew the battle of Rorke's Drift, then Mike's narrative will enthrall and surprise you.
I'm afraid that after this brilliant narrative, the rest of the Anglo-Zulu War is fairly brushed over in desultory manner, but then Mike never did set out to re-tell the whole of the Anglo-Zulu War and readers must go to other publications for further insight. There are some useful appendices including Nominal rolls of the 24th Regiment at Isandlwana and the Defenders of Rorke's Drift, as well as Chard's report to the Queen and Black's reports on returning to the battlefield of Isandlwana in the months after the battle.
Included also is a very useful guide to visiting the battlefields, where to go, what to see, as well some general safety tips for visiting the area.
If you already have How Can a Man Die Better, then the set is not complete without this book. If you are just interested in Rorke's Drift, you will not get a better description of the events of the battle. Well recommended.
(June 2006)


Review from The Bulletin of the Military Historical Society
Volume 57 No. 225 August 2005

I had just finished reading Col Mike Snook's fine book on the history of the battle of Isandlwana - How can Man die better when I received a copy of his other new book on the Zulu War - this time a British success: Like Wolves on the Fold. The Defence of Rorke's Drift, Greenhill, 2006, 25. The author is able to bring his military knowledge to bear on the telling of the story, and his great knowledge of the area around the great battles of Zululand. There are details of the feats of bravery from the eleven VC winners and new perspectives on how the Zulu attack unfolded and how the 150 men warded off the foe. The remainder of the war is also explained, the recovery of the lost Queen's Colour, the battle of Ulundi and the fate of many of the participants. Fair to both sides, using all of the preserved data, it is unlikely that this book and its twin will be surpassed in our time.