The River War Summary |

1899 Unabridged Edition (Two volumes)

The unabridged version contains many illustrations with drawings, photogravures, and colored maps. It also contains vivid narratives of personal adventures of the author, his views on British expansionism, passages of deep reflection about the requirements of a civilized government, criticism of military and political leaders and very harsh commentary on Mohammedanism. [1]

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.” [2]

Winston Churchill's observations from The River War, his 1899 account of his experiences in Sudan, raise troubling questons we confront to this day. The status of women remains a problem.

Notice that although Churchill is a "Conservative" in English Parliamentary lingo, his position is the liberal one of equality and resistance to slavery.

Alas, only the abridged 1902 one volume edition is available free from But the free edition is a fine place to begin.