THE TUNE THAT THEY PLAY by William Clive

THE TUNE THAT THEY PLAY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The English had a Custer's Last Stand, too, in 1879, just three years after ours, at Isandhlwana, Little Hand Mountain, where little more than a battalion of the 24th Warwickshires reinforced by unreliable natives and a few troops of cavalry faced 20,000 of the finest Zulu warriors. The theme, too, is sad and familiar: bad intelligence reports, the stupidity of commanding generals, hubris; the useless heroics of dying men later used as justification for avenging deaths of soldiers who shouldn't have been there in the first place -- all to serve Queen Victoria's endless lust for land and money. Although sheer history would have sufficed, the author has filled in his tale with invented intrigues among the various ill-fated participants in the affair: the journalist Noggs, castrated in a previous, unimportant imperialistic skirmish; Dyson -- a young subaltern running away from the implications of his father's immoral gun-running; and Whelan, a murderous but brave Irishman who escapes the Queen's noose only to find an even more horrible death by a Zulu assegai. . . . Satisfactory.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Simon & Schuster