ISSUE 12, January 2005

Editorial
Kitchener of Khartoum: Mason extraordinary
Travel: Where east meets west
Veteran Honoured: Old soldier remembered
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part 1
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro First Grand Principal and, Report of the Committee of General Purposes
  Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London: London's first consecration
Soccer: Man in the Middle
Wales: Joseph Parry - flawed genius?
Library & Museum: Donations gather pace
Education: Dates for your diary and, Planning a 'white table' and, Looking to the future and, Time marches on
Grand Charity: General meeting and non-Masonic grant list
Masonic Charities: Reports from the four main charities
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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    ZULU: the Heroism and Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879 by Saul David,
(Viking, 20. ISBN 0670914746)
When people think of the Zulu War, they all too often think of the popular film starring Michael Caine, which recounts the famous battle at Rorke's Drift, in which 140 British troops of the 2/24 Warwickshire Regiment (later renamed the South Wales Borderers) defied a Zulu army of around 4,000 in a 10-hour engagement. Eleven VCs were awarded following the events that day.
     Yet while Rorke's Drift remains a celebrated example of the British army's fortitude in the face of overwhelming odds, it has also successfully hidden the less palatable truths behind the Zulu war.
     Saul David argues that the war was both unnecessary and unjustifiable. Interestingly, it was a war that the British Government didn't want.
     Men on the spot forced the issue, and in an age where communication was slow, little could be done to stop them.
     The war went ahead and ultimately resulted in the destruction of the independent Zulu kingdom, which was annexed and incorporated into Natal.
     David attacks the British commander, Lord Chelmsford, who had little experience in the field and was `hopelessly out of his depth when it came to fighting the Zulus'. To his credit, the author finds plenty of evidence to support his case.
     Chelmsford neglected to study his opponents' fighting strategies, ignored the need for detailed reconnaissance and divided his army into columns too weak to withstand a determined attack.
     Eleven days into the war, his central column (922 white troops and 840 black auxiliaries) were destroyed at Isandlwana. The determined defence at Rorke's Drift the following day went some way to restoring his reputation, but he was never forgiven by Disraeli.
     Despite the heroism of the combatants on both sides, David's refreshingly clear and exciting account of the war highlights that in an age when many colonial wars were mismanaged, few were as unjustifiable and poorly led as the Zulu war of 1879.

    In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr by Wil Haygood
(Aurum, 20. ISBN 1845130138)
As one of the celebrated members of the Rat Pack, Sammy Davis Jr seemed to have it all. Prodigiously talented as an impressionist, singer and dancer, he shone on stage and seemed to have a lot of fun off it. Yet, as with so many gifted people, Sammy Davis had many inner conflicts. `He wanted to be white' said one of his girlfriends, and throughout the book this theme is never far from the surface. To the indignation of both black militants and white rednecks most of his many women, including his second wife, the actress May Britt, were white.
     When he was considering marrying the actress Kim Novak, he was warned by the Mob that he would lose his other eye (he had already lost one in a car crash in 1953) if he didn't stop seeing her, and go and marry a black showgirl in Las Vegas called Lorad White.
     Terrified of the consequences, he promptly showered a startled Miss White with gifts and married her two days later. The marriage lasted 12 months.
     Sammy Davis never went to school and throughout his life remained incapable of writing even a simple letter. He grew up with few friends in an adult world of vaudeville entertainment, accompanying and soon carrying the act in a trio with his father and veteran entertainer Will Mastin.
     Most significantly, he hardly knew his Cuban mother. It doesn't take a psychologist to recognise that the love he so sought from his audiences and professional associates was a desperate replacement for love he never received from his mother.
     Haygood documents how throughout the sixties and seventies, Davis lavished time, money and contributions to hangers-on as well as to public figures, ranging from Martin Luther King to Richard Nixon, in a bid to be loved and accepted.
     He died of throat cancer at the age of 64 a tragically early end to an extraordinary life, which is meticulously covered by the author. Indeed, if there is a fault in the book, it is that it is too long (around 500 pages).
     Nevertheless, Haygood deserves much praise for writing an excellent show business biography about a man whose talent on stage was often matched by his insecurity off it.


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