Myth of Iron: Shaka in History

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James Currey, 2006 - KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) - 615 pages
We know very little about Shaka. This statement may come as a surprise, since over the decades we have heard a great deal about this most famous - or infamous - of Zulu leaders. People will be familiar with a cluster of dramatic stories about Shaka, derived from school or university textbooks, museums, the film Zulu, television programmes, or word of mouth. Most of these stories have come to sound so familiar that they generally pass unquestioned. Virtually everything about the popular portrait is wrong. Dan Wylie re-examines what pretends to be the biography. He lays out all the available evidence on Shaka's reign. What emerges is a work of historical detection. There are many Zulu oral testimonies. These are as flawed - even if just as entertaining - as the four main white eyewitness accounts of Shaka's last four years. Like Jesus of Nazareth, hefty attention is paid to the end of his life, while other areas attract no evidence at all. DAN WYLIE teaches in the Department of English at Rhodes University in Grahamstown North America: Ohio U Press; South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press

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