Churchill and Small Wars, 1895-1900

David Jablonsky

An examination of the nature of ‘small wars' of Empire seen through the eyes and experience of a young Winston Churchill.
Date Published :
February 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
From Musket to Maxim 1815-1914
Illustration :
c 20 b/w ills, 20 b/w photos, 4 maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781804511824
Pages : 224
Dimensions : 9.2 X 6.1 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


The term ‘small wars’ is synonymous with Charles E. Callwell’s famous publication of that name. It is most closely linked with the conflicts of the late 19th century, and in particular those concerning the British Empire. This new work by David Jablonsky looks at several of the wars that could justifiably be classed as ‘small wars’. In doing so it witnesses and examines them through the eyes of a young army officer and journalist whose name would later become known throughout the world. At this stage Winston Churchill was a young man making his way as both a journalist and Army officer.

The journey starts with a visit to Cuba during the Spanish-American War where Churchill traveled with the Spanish Army commanded by General Juarez Valdez. He then served in India, accompanying the Malakand Field Force, the story of which provided the basis for his first book. Following that he was in the Sudan, where he witnessed an unusual kind of ‘small war’, and took part in the ‘celebrated’ charge of the 21st Lancers. The outcome of this was his second book, The River War, which gives an interesting insight into this ‘small war’. Jablonsky then looks at the conflict that perhaps is at the very limit of what could be called a ‘small war’: The South African War, or Second Anglo-Boer War.

In all such conflicts Churchill combined his military activity with that of journalism, thus leaving a detailed account and giving a unique perspective of such conflicts. This was a man who rode with the Spanish in Cuba, fought on the Northwest Frontier, charged with the 21st Lancers in the Sudan, made a successful escape from a Boer prisoner of war camp and a run to freedom, and recorded all his events for publication. His conduct might appear strange to a modern reader, as we do not expect journalists to take part in the fighting, but it was not uncommon for the era, and as his life and experiences show, Churchill was far from ordinary. Indeed, this work highlights a largely forgotten period of a remarkable man, and by so doing sheds light on the conduct of the ‘small wars’ of empire.

About The Author

David Jablonsky is a retired US Army infantry Colonel and a graduate of the US Army Command and Staff College and the US Army War College. His awards and decorations include the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the US Army War College at Carlisle, PA, where as a professor of national security affairs he held the Elihu Root Chair of Strategy; the George C. Marshall Chair of Military studies; and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Chair of National Security Studies.

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