The Story of the Malakand Field Force [ePub]

by Winston S. Churchill

The story of a minor frontier war at the boundary of British India in the 1890s. Highly recommended, for two reasons.

First, it's by the young Winston Churchill, who is a fine stylist and a writer of substantial interest.

Second, because we're today again engaged in a colonial war, in exactly the same place, with very similar people, in a similar strategic context. Neither we or the British care much about the Swat valley per se — both governments had a strong interest in the locals there not raiding and terrorizing civilians away from the Northwest Frontier.

Not only the strategy, but much of the tactical comment seems highly applicable. Churchill is really interested in when and why punitive raids make sense, and in how fanaticism both strengthens and weakens the natives, as compared to professionals. He's really interested in the tradeoffs between a ponderous logistical apparatus vs being under-equipped locals.

I read the free Gutenberg edition. There were minor formatting glitches, which bothered me very little. The lack of maps was a moderate minus, but tolerable.

22.11.2012

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