Go Strong into the Desert

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Go Strong into the Desert

Postby mike snook » 13 Mar 2010 11:40

Hello folks

With Mark's blessing I am now able to provide some information on one of two Sudan books I have been working on over the past two years. We'll come to the second one in due course (which is a mainstream publishing production and won't be out until early next year), but the first one is finished and being prepared for publication over the course of the summer. As it has been commissioned within a specialist domain, you won't be able to get it in the usual Waterstone's/Amazon type places. More of that in a moment.

It is called 'Go Strong into the Desert - The Mahdist Uprising in Sudan 1881-85. A Military History and Uniform Guide.' The main title is derived from the text of an anonymous telegram sent to Wolseley from London during the Nile expedition. I believe the book will be in what you might call the soft back glossy format. I don't yet know what it will cost - but something between 20 and 30 quid I imagine. It contains a 70,000 word account of the uprising and is copiously illustrated, with a very high prevalence of colour plates of various kinds, of which more in a moment. The main narrative text focusses on the uprising as a military event, with the bulk of it devoted to detailed accounts of the principal battles. The following are well covered; the early and invariably disastrous Egyptian attempts to get after Muhammad Ahmad, the siege of El Obeid, Hicks Pasha and the Senaar and Kordofan expeditions, Osman's attack on Tawfiq Bey at Sinkat, the Tahir Pasha/Moncrieff expedition (the real 'first' El Teb), First El Teb (The Val Baker Disaster), Second El Teb and Tamai, the Siege of Khartoum (including a detailed description of the defences and coverage of the major sorties and setpiece actions around the city), the battles of Abu Klea, Abu Kru, Kirbekan, Hasheen, Tofrek and Giniss. I am told by those who have read it that the text is fast moving but nonetheless packed with intricate military detail along the way - which is nice because that's how I planned it!

In addition to the text there are about 15 extremely detailed tables describing British, Egyptian and Mahdist orders of battle. All the setpiece battles itemized above are covered - unit names (correctly expressed), brigading arrangements, unit strengths, casualties, Mahdist commanders properly transliterated, (you don't see that everyday), commander's names, ranks, initials, decorations etc all individually researched from the Army List. By the way the first name of every officer menioned in the text is also given, and every unit title is correct by the Army List of the date in question - your usual sloppy 'Major Jones's battery' will simply not do for this production! There is a wealth of detail here which you won't find elsewhere - or if you do you'll have to dig bloody hard!

For illustrations we draw extensively on my personal collection of matters Sudan 1881-85:

There are many ILN and Graphic sketches, particularly by those who were first hand witnesses like Melton Prior, Frederic Villiers, G.D. Giles, C.E. Fripp and others, but also the more splendid ones by Richard Caton Woodville who, while he is not to be relied upon as a source for dress, is nonetheless a magnificent war artist.

There are also a good many modern colour photographs from the battlefields taken during my recent service in the Sudan. El Teb, Tokar, Tamanieb, Abu Klea, Abu Kru (or what I believe to be Abu Kru - but that's too long a story for this post), Mernat Island, Wad Habeshi, Hasheen and Suakin Island all feature.

Even more splendidly, there are 35 or so full colour uniform plates by a quite excellent artist/sculptor/designer and chum of mine called Michael Perry. These cover not just the British Army's orders of dress, that we know about, but many interesting early Egyptian and Sudanese uniforms, as well of course as the Mahdist forces. There are also rather nice personality portraits of Val Baker and Fred Burnaby. We waste nothing on ceremonial uniforms - these are all plates of what people wore in battle. Michael provided the skill and imagination and I provided the good history underpinning the plates. The plates themselves are real beauties - Michael has really done the subjct proud.

Michael Perry is best known as one of the fomidably talented 'Perry Twins', Michael and Alan, who are probably the best sculptors of wargames figures working in the world today. By day they work for the Games Workshop empire, but by night they do their own thing for 'Perry Miniatures'. It is Perry Miniatures that will publish the book. While the book will be highly attractive and useful to wargamers, modellers, re-enactors and other military hobbyists, it is a history book first and foremost, so will be equally if not more attractive to VWF members with a historical fascination in the Sudan campaigns. I don't yet have a publication date but will publicize it here when known - June/July-ish perhaps. To acquire a copy you will have to order it from the Perry Miniatures website which, at some point in the not too distant future, will offer it for pre-order. I'll let you know when it is up. There are likely only to be a couple of thousand copies to begin with, so there'll be the quick and the dead, though when the first lot go there will be more - but doubtless an interval too.

Hope that fairly describes what's on offer - I detect that this will appeal to a goodly number of VWF members, so I thought I'd best tip you off in advance. I hope those who buy it, like it and am quietly confident you will!! Now it's time to sleep....for about a week!!

Regards as ever

Mike
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Re: New Sudan Book - Go Strong into the Desert

Postby jersey » 13 Mar 2010 11:49

Mike,
I have just finished reading the book Khartoum which was a fantastic read, and I can't wait to get my hands on yours when it comes out. My appetite has been whetted.

David
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby mike snook » 13 Mar 2010 11:56

Hi David

You might like the second one too then - which is exclusively about the Gordon Relief Expedition, but a rather more formal military history than Michael Asher's treatment of the subject, which I agree is a good read. The real star is the history itself - what a truly remarkable series of events took place in the Sudan at that time and what remarkable men made it.

Regards

Mike
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby Mark » 13 Mar 2010 17:09

Mike

I will definately be ordering a copy of this book as soon as it goes up for pre-order (and the second one when it is ready)!

Will you be doing any "signed" copies? :wink:

Mark
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby mike snook » 15 Mar 2010 21:18

Hi Mark

Good on yer- Kirbekan and the South Staffs are well covered, you'll be glad to know!!

Hmmm...signies will be difficult I think - I am in UK for the National Army Museum event on 10 April and for a couple of weeks holiday thereafter, but then I return to Africa, so I don't see there will be an opportunity for me to pre-sign copies for them that wants 'em. I'm sure we'll be able to meet up somewhere some day though - just don't spill your coffee on your copy before then!!

As ever

Mike
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby Mark » 16 Mar 2010 00:24

Mike

Glad to hear the South Staffords get a good mention for Kirbekan :D :wink:

Don't worry I will keep my copy in good order and one day get you to sign it for me :P

Mark
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby mike snook » 18 Mar 2010 08:16

Mark

Here's an interesting snippet. Did you know that Col Eyre commanding (KIA Kirbekan) had come up from the ranks. I believe I'm right in saying - within the same regiment. That's quite an achievement eh?

Regards

Mike
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby jersey » 18 Mar 2010 09:26

Mike,
Where will the outlets be then, taking into consideration that I live in Australia. My usual order from UK is via Amazon/Abe etc

David
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby Mark » 18 Mar 2010 10:26

mike snook wrote:Mark

Here's an interesting snippet. Did you know that Col Eyre commanding (KIA Kirbekan) had come up from the ranks. I believe I'm right in saying - within the same regiment. That's quite an achievement eh?

Regards

Mike


Mike

A massive achievement at the time indeed! As you know being commissioned from the ranks in those days seldom happened as it is but to be so within the same regiment must have been virtually unheard of. I wonder how many instances of this there were during the Victorian period?

Mark :)
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby mike snook » 18 Mar 2010 18:50

Hello David

Via the Perry Miniatures website (readily googleable) - but there's nothing there to see yet (apart from thousands of wargames figures!). I'll post a note here when they start taking orders. I guess some of the retail outlets around the world who sell their wargames stuff will also take some books - but I reckon the easiest route to/from Oz will be a direct order to the Perry website.

Regards

Mike

Mark

I was dealing with a guy today (not in person you understand - he died in May 1884(!) - called Humphreys, who was a lieutenant in the Welsh (commanded the MI company in the 1st Suakin campaign in the local rank of captain, and did exceptionally well, tragically killed on Cairo racecourse - may have told the story here before I think) - son of a gamekeeer - who had been the sergeant major of the 108th Regiment (made it in 12 years by all accounts - good going). He is much more typical - commissioned from sergeant major into another regiment. Eyre's case is certainly unusual, but I've no idea how unusual. There's a PhD thesis in the subject of commissioning from the ranks in Victorian times for somebody with the motivation and detective skills to write it I reckon.

As ever

Mike
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby jersey » 18 Mar 2010 21:15

Mike,
Thanks I will keep a close eye out for your announcement.

David
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby mike snook » 12 Apr 2010 18:48

Hello All,

The publisher's blurb for Go Strong into the Desert can now be seen at http://www.perry-miniatures.com

Click on the cannon, go into Ranges and then Books
It's not possible to order it yet, but there are a couple of plates on display.

Regards

Mike
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby Mark » 12 Apr 2010 21:14

Mike

Looking good, can't wait to get hold of a copy in the summer :D

Mark
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby fantomark » 14 Apr 2010 13:52

Ciao, Mike!

Wonderful news!

I will buyat least 2 copies: 1 for me + 1 for our model club !

I am an avid collector pr Perry Miniatures, and I bought most of them through their website!
i really believe they are the best smallscale figures available on the period!

Finally, in case you should contemplate expanding beyond 1885 in your future work, I would be glad to cooperate ifyou should consider the Italian.Mahdist campaigns of 1893-1896 worthy of some interest.

Cheers!

Marco
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Re: Go Strong into the Desert

Postby 10thHussar » 20 Apr 2010 21:01

Mike
I have been busy of late and havent had a chance to get on here for a while and today the first place i came to is this section......AWSOME news!!!
I have been waiting for this since our other thread discussion last year.

Really cant wait to get this. Pride of place in my Library. 8)

Hope theres a 10th Hussar pic or two. :wink: :D

Regards as always

Lee
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An' the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle an' blow out your brains,
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." - Rudyard Kipling
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