London: Putnam, 1931. First edition. Hardcover. This jacketed British first edition is a noteworthy association and presentation copy, bearing the compliments slip of the man whom the author, translator, and publishers acknowledge immediately following the title page, General Sir Reginald Wingate. Wingate’s 5 x 2.5 inch compliments slip is laid in at the title page and printed in two lines: “WITH THE COMPLIMENTS OF | GENERAL SIR REGINALD WINGATE.”
Wingate (1861-1953, first baronet), was a British army officer and colonial governor who spent almost his entire professional career in Egypt and Sudan. It was the Mahdist insurrection led by Mohammed Ahmed that fundamentally shaped Wingate’s career. A messianic Islamic leader in central and northern Sudan in the final decades of the 19th century, Mohammed Ahmed found fertile political ground in the inhabitants’ resentment engendered by the corruption of and oppression by Egyptian rulers who had long dominated the region. Mahdists occupied most of the Sudan and, in 1883, overwhelmed the Egyptian army of British commander William Hicks. Great Britain ordered withdrawal of all Egyptian troops and officials from Sudan. In 1885, General Gordon famously lost his life in a doomed defence of the capitol, Khartoum, where he had been sent to lead evacuation of Egyptian forces. Though the Mahdi died the same year, his theocracy continued until 1898, when the British general Kitchener reoccupied Sudan.
A very young Winston Churchill participated in the decisive defeat of Mahdist forces at battle of Omdurman in September 1898. Churchill wrote his second published book - The River War - about this British campaign and in 1931 Churchill wrote a four-page introduction for this book, but it was Wingate who played the larger role both in the conflict (and the written record thereof), and in development of Sudan. As director of military intelligence, Wingate became “not only the chief collector of information on Mahdist Sudan, but… also its chief disseminator to the British public.”
Wingate himself published three books on Mahdist Sudan, which “brought Wingate to the favourable notice of the British military and political establishment, and brought the lurid details of alleged Mahdist barbarism to the attention of the British public.” Wingate would serve sixteen years, from 1899 to 1916, administering Sudan “as a colony in all but name, while lessening the control of both Cairo and London… Wingate came to epitomize a type of pragmatism and moderation that seemed to ebb… after the First World War.” It was under Wingate that “pacification and resettlement of the tribes took place, that the rebuilding of Khartoum… occurred, that … modern infrastructure was put in place, and that medical, educational, and other social services were inaugurated”, as well as a legal and civil service system. (ODNB)
This work is translated from the original German and Churchill's introduction appears only in the British and U.S. editions. This presentation copy of the British first edition is good plus in a poor dust jacket. General Wingate’s compliments slip was long paperclipped to the upper title page, leaving rust stains on the slip and title page, as well as adjacent frontispiece, acknowledgements, and table of contents pages. The contents are otherwise without previous ownership marks, showing intermittent spotting throughout, heaviest to prelims and page edges. The khaki cloth binding is clean with sharp corners and bright spine gilt, showing light wear to the spine ends and a very slight warp to the front cover. The scarce dust jacket is considerably worn, with losses to a maximum depth of .75 inch along the upper edge, with smaller losses at the spine center and heel. The spine is heavily creased and moderately toned with clear tape reinforcement to both the jacket verso and the recto at the spine head and center. The dust jacket is now protected beneath a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Reference: Cohen B47.1, Woods B17. Item #004036