January 1, 1970

Introduced by Richard M. Langworth

After the decisive Battle of Omdurman, Churchill viewed the scene. His second book, The River War, offers surprisingly modern thoughts about war’s carnage and displays Churchill’s magnanimity toward the defeated enemy: ‘… there was nothing dulce et decorum about the Dervish dead; nothing of the dignity of unconquerable manhood … Yet these were as brave men as ever walked the earth. The conviction was borne in on me that their claim beyond the grave in respect of a valiant death was not less good than that which any of our countrymen could make.’

Professor Rahe recommends The River War for any study of warfare, calling it ‘Churchill’s great, neglected work, a prose epic … His subjects, including the conflict between Islam and modernity [offer] reflection on the moral responsibilities of a great power … In an age when the Great Democracies are likely to be called on to respond to ugly little conflicts marked by social, sectarian and tribal rivalries … I can think of no other historical work that better deserves our attention’.

Read the full article here: ‘Omdurman, 5 September 1898: The Fallen Foe’ by Winston S. Churchill and ‘Why Read The River War’ by Paul A. Rahe in Finest Hour 85, Winter 1994–95, scroll to page 10.

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