Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Nile River Gunboats 1882 - 1918".. a review..

One of the few New Year aims (I don't have resolutions they're far too contractual ) I made this year, was to remedy the pitiful situation of the last few years where through sheer laziness my non-fiction reading has been sometimes less than a dozen books in a year, and often a lot less...  a decision was made to read at least one non-fiction book a month, and the somewhat handy confluence of that decision, and an email from Osprey announcing a sale, sparked a mini buying spree - I bought the subject of this review, and also "Mississippi River Gunboats of the American Civil War 1861–65" (which I'll review separately)

My regular reader will know that I have more than a passing interest in the Sudan Colonial period, and indeed collect forces for both sides in 15mm (more here [clicky]) but they are for the land based campaigns, and with the exception of the lone dhow [clicky] I have not really transitioned into naval war-gaming in the period/theatre..I do however, have an interest in gunboats, and was interested to read more about operations on the water in the various campaigns against the Dervish...

This book (and indeed the other) is by well known wargamer Angus Konstam, and is a very handy checklist of armaments, weights, speeds, and operations of the gunboats that operated on the Nile for the duration of the war(s), and indeed right up to WWII (despite the title - though to be fair there is no detail post 1918 - it's just that some of the gunboats continued to serve in one form or another right up until then). It reads well, and easily, and some of the insights are fascinating - I hadn't realised how many of the senior naval commanders at Jutland had started their careers with the gunboats serving on the Nile, for example, I also hadn't realised that the Dervish operated a number of steam powered gunboats themselves... It has also by the by, triggered a decision to re-visit and re-read "The River War" by Churchill...

It's not a long book, but for the little more than a fiver it cost me, pure gold, and what makes it doubly worthwhile are the illustrations (by Peter Dennis) which are simply superb, and the following is an example of...

I note on the Osprey site the paperback is now marked out of stock.. not surprised.. well worth a fiver of anyone's money! I not you can get the Kindle version for not much more though..

Steve the Wargamer rates it  8 out of 10...


  1. 8 out of 10...high praise indeed! Gunboat Diplomacy is actually a very interesting topic which has many wargaming potentials. "The Sand Pebbles" film has always fired my imagination.

  2. Very interesting. Thanks for the review.

  3. Good book. My own readings on the Sudan provoked me to purchase it for myself about two years ago. Last year, the book below was supposed to be published, but it was delayed until this fall. You may find it of interest...if it ever releases.,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

  4. That does look like a good read. I have the tome on Mississippi River gunboats, and I think you will like it.