Myth of Iron: Shaka in History (Paperback)

Myth of Iron: Shaka in History By Dan Wylie Cover Image

Myth of Iron: Shaka in History (Paperback)


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Over the decades a great deal has been written about Shaka, the most famous—or infamous—of Zulu leaders. It may come as a surprise, therefore, that even the most basic facts about his life are locked in obscurity. His date of birth, what he looked like, and the circumstances of his assassination remain unknown.

Meanwhile the public image, sometimes monstrous, sometimes heroic, juggernauts on—truly a “myth of iron” that is so intriguing, so dramatic, so archetypal, and sometimes so politically useful that few have subjected it to proper scrutiny.

Myth of Iron: Shaka in History is the first book-length scholarly study of Shaka to be published. It lays out, as far as possible, all the available evidence—mainly hitherto underutilized Zulu oral testimonies, supported by other documentary sources—and decides, item by item, legend by legend, what exactly is known about Shaka’s reign. The picture that emerges in this meticulously researched and absorbing antibiography is very different from the popular narrative.
Dan Wylie teaches in the department of English at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. His publications include Savage Delight: White Myths of Shaka and Dead Leaves.
Product Details ISBN: 9780821418482
ISBN-10: 0821418483
Publisher: Ohio University Press
Publication Date: December 23rd, 2008
Pages: 640
Language: English
Wylie locates what we can know or reasonaley surmise about Shaka in th broader context of local and global historical factors, which is immensely valuable. That, combined with his detailed unweaving of the Shaka myth, makes for a deeply fascinating volume."
— Shun de Waal, Mail & Guardian

“Those who present South African history as tied to regional and global processes, rather than a remarkable South African exceptionalism, will find an ally in this thorough and lively study.”
Journal of African History