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About the book
  • Published: 6 July 2017
  • ISBN: 9781446426081
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 672

The Washing Of The Spears

The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation Under Shaka and its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879

An accomplished and vibrant history of the Zulu nation at the height of British imperial power.

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 is the definitive account of the rise of the Zulu nation under the great ruler Shaka and its fall under Cetshwayo. The story is studded with tales of drama and heroism: the Battle of Isandhlwana, where the Zulu army wiped out the major British column; and Rorke's Drift, where a handful of British troops beat off thousands of Zulu warriors and won eleven Victoria Crosses.

Acclaimed for its scholarship, its monumental range, and its spellbinding readability, The Washing of the Spears is a gripping portrait of not just the Zulu War of 1879, but also of Britain’s colonial policy at this moment.

  • Pub date: 6 July 2017
  • ISBN: 9781446426081
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 672

About the Author

Donald R Morris

Donald R. Morris was born in 1924 and grew up in New York City. In 1948 he graduated from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. After serving on several destroyers, he went on to Naval Intelligence School and Russian language training and was detailed to the CIA in 1956. He remained with the CIA and continued in the Naval Reserve until 1972, when he retired as a Lieutenant Commander. He earned two battle stars in Korea and holds the Navy Commendation medal. His 17 years with the CIA were spent almost entirely in Soviet counter-espionage operations. He was stationed for lengthy periods in Berlin, Paris, Kinshasa (Zaire) and Vietnam.

For many years Donald Morris was also a foreign affairs columnist for the Houston Post. In 1989 he formed the Trident Syndicate and published a weekly newsletter on current events and foreign affairs. He died in 2002.

Praise for The Washing Of The Spears


Noel Mostert, New York Times

“Mr. Morris is evidently incapable of being dull... Hemingway would have relished his vigorous way of bringing history to life”

The Times

“An accomplished volume, anatomising the achievement of Zulu nationhood and its destruction by the British at the high watermark of Victorian imperialism.”


“The book to end all books on the tragic confrontation between the assegai and the Gatling gun... Colourful yet commendably fair”

Times Literary Supplement

“This magnificent book is not only a history of the Zulus, the "Black Spartans", from their rise under Shaka to the deliberate destruction of the independent Zulu nation through the war forced on them by Sir Bartle Frere, but also a full-scale immensely knowledgeable account of British Colonial and military policy in relation to Southern Africa, and of the men who carried it out.”


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