Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The River War

The River War by Winston Churchill is of course a classic. Winston Churchill is one of the greatest men of all time and the most amazing journalist and writer. Everyone knows him as the Prime Minister of England during WWII who saved the world we know it from the tyrrany of Nazi Germany.
Yet there is so much more to Churchill. The River War is the 1899 book about the Egypt-England reconquest of the Sudan in which Winston himself was in the Lancers Calvary at the Battle of Omdurman.
Churchill's account of the whole war is extraordinary as it traces the war's development, the death of Gordon, the Mahdi, Dervishes, building of the railway along the Nile to bring up supplies and forces and the movement of gunships over cascades. Tens of thousands of men fought and died in this desert wars. Massacres of towns and outposts.
Horses and camels and infantry fighting side by side with modern machine guns and swords. Churchill's account is enthralling. This is a leader whose courage in face of personal threat is the stuff of legend. Churchill was not parachuted into his role. He represents the might of a man of the ranks who though born into priviledge served side by side throughout his life with the common men who'd he'd eventually lead to victory.

Today's experiments in management seem to miss the point of history, Churchill and WWII. It seems that there is a shortage of experience in the real life of danger, privation, and sacrifice in the thin soup of today's board rooms.
Of course I may well be wrong. Churchill's life would have it's fair share of mistakes. Still I wonder which leader's today have lives as full as this man of destiny.

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