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Prisoners of the Mahdi (Anglais) Broché – 1 septembre 1989

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Book by Farwell Byron

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9b16c90c) étoiles sur 5 9 commentaires
22 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9b0d4954) étoiles sur 5 Superb story of Little Known Era of History 23 novembre 2003
Par Lawrence A. Strid - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
The late Byron Farwell has to be the ultimate historian of Victorian military history, and this is one of his best works, along with "Queen Victoria's Little Wars" and "The Great War in Africa". The story of the Mahdi and his fundamentalist revolt in the Sudan in the late 1880s is the stuff that movies are made of (ie., "Khartoum", "The Four Feathers"), but what makes this book work is its detailed description of the trials and tribulations of 3 Western prisoners of the Mahdi who survived harrowing ordeals in the Sudan but lived to tell the story. Their stories are woven around such climactic battles as the siege of Khartoum and the Battle of Omdurman, giving these two pivotal events a more human feel, given the masterly work of the author. The events in the Sudan in the late 19th Century continue to effect us in the 21st Century, and the Mahdi was the first modern promoter of the type of militant fundamentalist Islam that is so occupied by the headlines of today. Although he was rebelling against a corrupt Egyptian (and British influenced) occupational administration, the excesses and barbarities of his reign were eggregious to the extreme, and Farwell puts everything into a fascinating perspective where you simulateously admire and despise the man. He remains a cultural hero and icon to many people in the Muslim world of today. A fascinating and highly recommended read. If you find this to be an enthralling story about an exciting epoch of 19th century history, then you would be encouraged to also read Dominic Green's "Three Empires On The Nile: The Victorian Jihad 1869-1899", which provides a greater overview of the interplay between Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and the Mahdist Rebellion and how this power struggle literally changed the world stage from that time, to the present.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9af323d8) étoiles sur 5 A Fascinating Tale about a now obscure but once hugely popular bit of history 24 juillet 2010
Par Douglas S. Wood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché

Prisoners of the Mahdi tells two stories set in late 19th century Sudan. The dramatic rise to religious and temporal power of the Mahdi, a Sudanese man claiming to be the redeemer of Islam, provides the first tale and sets the background for the second, the stories of three European captives each held for at least ten years under often brutal conditions. The Mahdi expels the Egyptian/Ottoman/British powers from the Sudan in 1884, a victory that includes the martyring death at Khartoum of General `Chinese' Gordon. The British return under Kitchener to avenge Gordon and retake control of the Nile form source to sea. A fascinating read about a now obscure, but previously hugely popular part of the history of the British Empire.

Full Review:

Prisoners of the Mahdi first traces the meteoric rise of an ordinary Sudanese Muslim. On June 29, 1881, this fellow, Muhammad Ahmed, proclaimed himself to be the Mahdi, the messianic redeemer of Islam, the second coming of the prophet in 1881. With his extreme religious fervor he managed to build an army of followers and begins to take control of the Sudan. At the time, the Sudan was nominally under control of the Ottoman Empire through the Khedive of Egypt. In reality, although the lines of authority were intentionally muddied, the British Empire had the final say through its consul in Cairo, the aptly titled `controller-general' Evelyn Baring.

The Khedive, exercising a modicum of independence had extended Egyptian (`Turco') authority into the Sudan and it was his fight against this authority that helped the Mahdi gain traction. The Mahdi's army of ansars (followers) has won some small skirmishes and then took control of Darfur after annihilating a British-led Egyptian army. Baring sensibly recommended that Egypt simply withdraw from the Sudan. The British didn't want it and there was little enough there for anyone.

Prime Minister Gladstone agreed, but the war party within his own government managed to push the through the appointment of General `Chinese' Gordon to just go have a look around and oversee the Egyptian pullback. Baring twice refused to accept the appointment, but finally gave in - to the regret of many. A less suitable candidate for such a role than Gordon is difficult to imagine (George Patton?). (By the way, Chinese Gordon plays a prominent role in Flashman and the Dragon).

Once on the scene Gordon inevitably decided that Khartoum must be held at all costs. The Mahdi soon laid siege to the city. Gladstone dithered before sending a relief force that managed to arrive two days too late. Khartoum was sacked. Gordon was killed and attained a heroic martyr status that lasted in England for decades. (As Farwell tells it, Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians did for Gordon's reputation - deservedly so in my opinion). The sacking of Khartoum led to the sacking of Gladstone. The Sudan was now entirely in the hands of the Mahdi and became the Madihya.

At this point, Farwell turns to the second part of his story, the tales of three European captives of the Mahdi: Austrian soldier/adventurer Rudolph Slatin, Catholic priest Father Joseph Ohrwalder, and German merchant trader Charles Neufeld. (Farwell is also a captive of sorts because of source limitations; these three subjects provide very nearly everything that was known about their own captivity.) Each was held captive for 10 years. Farwell gives Slatin an extended treatment and deservedly so because Slatin's story holds the most interest by far. Slatin, who had quickly become a leading official in Egyptian-held Sudan, also quickly decided that the best course in captivity was total submissiveness (For example, he professed a conversion to Islam, possibly sincerely). It worked - more or less - and he held a seat close to the center of power especially under the Mahdi's successor or The Khalifa. He could observe, but was never really trusted by the Khalifa and lived in fear of his life.

Ohrwalder's and Neufeld's stories are told more briefly and hold interest primarily by demonstrating the depths of cruelty that humans will subject one another to if they have the power to do so and the ability of humans to endure prolonged cruelty and privation. Neufeld in particular refused to cooperate in any degree and suffered accordingly. Ohrwalder's exciting escape story, and Neufeld's poor treatment upon in release.

Ironically, their post-captivity lives mirrored their success in captivity. Slatin went to a much-decorated career, being told at one point by King Edward VII that he would have to pin the Slatin's next medal on his hindquarters. Ohrwalder's role in the church was limited (presumably due his taking two wives and fathering at least one child in captivity, a fact that Farwell mysteriously seems to miss). Neufeld was suspected as a collaborator, a 180 from reality. Perhaps these fates reflect the men's inherent ability to flourish (or not) in any society - or perhaps it reflects something about the nature of power.

Farwell closes the book by briefly relating how the British retook the Sudan. After a hiatus of some eleven years, the British sent in the army under Kitchener to retake the Sudan for reasons having more to do with the `scramble for Africa' and control of the Nile than anything else.

Prisoners of the Mahdi is an excellent telling of a now obscure, but once hugely popular bit of history. The book's main limitations are from limited source material and Farwell's now-somewhat anachronistic viewpoint (the book was authored in 1967). Bearing those two shortcomings in mind and the reader interested in history has a tremendously fascinating tale in store.
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9af32318) étoiles sur 5 This is the most interesting history book I have ever read. 22 août 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The author gives a vivid picture of all the major figures involved in the Mahdist revolt, from Mohammed Ahmed and the Khalifa Abdullahi to the three main European prisoners. With detailed accounts of military engagements, the stories of those trapped in the Sudan, and escape attempts, this is very engrossing reading.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9af32168) étoiles sur 5 Fascinating Historical Panorama 6 décembre 2012
Par Mark William Levy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Farwell does an excellent job of describing the fate of Westerners caught in the grip of the Mahdist revolt. This is a little-known chapter in the history of North Africa that has great relevance to the current problem of fundamentalism in developing societies.
Fascinating biographical detail alternates with historical perspective in this well-written chronicle.Strongly recommended !
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9af301c8) étoiles sur 5 Good Overview on the Evil that came out of the SUDAN... 5 juin 2014
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Having studied with Oxford Scholars, and many Military Historians, I can can only give this book 4 Stars... as the late Bryron Farwell drew most research from the original work of Major Reginald Wingate RA.

However for the armchair historian, or the Foggy Bottom diplomat seeking more knowledge on the history that seared its blood deeply in the sands along the Nile of Sudan, this is a book for you. For the younger historian seeking a good read about a period when another "War on Terrorism/Religious Extremists" that set the British Empire afire you should get a copy of this book. It really is a good read. Throughout the history of Islam, there will always be religious leaders seeking to kill others, and control the regions of their world. There will always be wars and rumors of war....here is a book for you to get a quick grasp of the Sudan's Wars of the past and somewhat understand the history of that nation.
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