Some recommended reading.

I have received a number of requests for recommended further reading about Rhodesia.  As is almost invariably the case after a conflict, it is the winners who get to tell their story and speak.  Most of the history about Rhodesia is now taught from the viewpoint of the winners and those who helped them.  The books listed below are recommended as being somewhat more balanced and untainted by the perceived modern need to appease the views of Mugabe and his henchmen.  Short notes explain the contents and the background of the authors who are all of good standing and some of whom are graduates of British and American universities.

With a little patience, most of these books may be found for sale on such sites as Amazon or eBay.

Colonialism – A Moral Reckoning (2023)

In 2023 Prof. Nigel Biggar published his much acclaimed book Colonialism – A Moral Reckoning which includes references to Cecil Rhodes and much besides. In spring 2023 I attended a talk at Pusey House in Oxford at which Prof Biggar also answered questions. I was highly impressed and bought a copy of his book which covers, in much detail, far more than the short extracts quoted here. I would thoroughly recommend the book to all my readers – currently £20, or £12.99 paperback.

(Nigel Biggar is Regius Professor Emeritus of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, where he directs the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics and Public Life.  He holds a BA in Modern History from Oxford University and an MA and Ph.D. in Christian Theology and Ethics from the University of Chicago. Before assuming his current post, he occupied chairs at the University of Leeds and Trinity College Dublin. He was appointed CBE in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.)


Rhodes, A Life – J.G. McDonald (1927)

There are many biographies of this great statesman including recent examples by those writing in today’s totally different and “politically correct” world and who never knew Cecil Rhodes themselves. As a good introduction, I would recommend this account by a man who knew him well for the last twelve years of his life.  It includes many episodes recited from personal experience.  (403 pages)


The Right Honourable Cecil John Rhodes, A Monograph and a Reminiscence – Sir Thomas E. Fuller K.C.M.G.  (1910)

Extensive personal accounts by this long standing member of the Progressive Party who was Cecil Rhodes neighbour and sat with him in the Cape Parliament for some 20 years.

In 1911 The Encyclopædia Britannica said: “The public life of Cape Colony has produced many men of singular ability and accomplishments. Sir Thomas Fuller, a Cape Town representative, gave staunch support to every enlightened liberal and progressive measure which was brought forward [in the Cape Parliament]. A man of exceptional culture and eloquence, he made his influence felt, not only in politics, but in journalism and the best social life of the Cape peninsula. (276 pages)


Shortly after retiring as the Cape Colony’s High Commissioner in London, Sir Thomas Fuller wrote: “It is a generally received opinion that the lives of great men can only be rightly appreciated in the perspective given by years and the backward view of events, which alone can fix the their position as it stands related to the men and work of the time in which they lived. Yet surely such a view must have its limitation. If Boswell had waited for “perspective” he would never have written the living picture of Dr. Johnson which has delighted the world.  The real, robust Johnson, with his positive opinions, his sarcastic wit, his tempestuous rage, to say nothing of the cat “Hodge” and the treasured orange peel, would have been lost to the world but for Boswell, who wrote of things while they were warm and living, and did not wait for a perspective plane to judge events in proportion and relation.  Mr. Rhodes has left much to the judgment of posterity in his imperial achievements and bequests, but he had a striking personality, which only those near to him could fully appreciate.”


The Reluctant President – The Memoirs of the Hon. Clifford Walter Dupont. (1978)

C.W. Dupont read law at Cambridge and his autobiography includes a fascinating insight into life in England in the 1920s and 30s. This is followed by his emigration to Rhodesia shortly after the Hitler War and his experiences developing his farm prior to entry into politics and eventually appointment as Rhodesia’s first State President. (246pp)


Welensky’s 4000 Days – Sir Roy Welensky (1964)

Northern Rhodesia’s leader, and subsequent Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland 1956-1963, gives his personal account of the life and death of the Federation and his dealings with a range of devious British government ministers in the late 1950s and early 60s. (383pp)


Testimony of a Rhodesian Federal – The Hon Julian M Greenfield Q.C.(1978)

This former Rhodes’ Scholar gives a wonderful account, centred on life in Bulawayo, from before The Great War to the late 1940s by which time he was a practising Advocate. Then, as Federal Minister of Law, he reveals a behind the scenes view through the corridors of power of his numerous meetings with members of the British government, among them Prime Ministers and Secretaries of State. His disclosures make interesting reading and form a valuable part of the record, notably of the protracted negotiations, fruitless and frustrating in the extreme, which led to the break-up of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland with its laudable concept of racial partnership. (259pp)


Huggins of Rhodesia – Dr. L.H. Gann & Prof. M. Gelfand (1964)

Dr. Gann (see below) teamed up with Michael Gelfand OBE, CBE, Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester, MD (Cape Town), FRCP, DPH (London), DMR, Hon. LLD (Rhodesia. and Birmingham), Hon. DLitt (Cape Town).

to write this full biography of the life and political times of Sir Godfrey Huggins later Lord Malvern who led his country from 1933 to 1956. (285pp)


A History of Southern Rhodesia (Pre-history to 1934) – Dr. L.H. Gann (1965)

An nonpartisan and factual analysis for the general reader and specialist and being the companion volume to the author’s History of Northern Rhodesia.  (354pp) The author was a graduate of Balliol College Oxford and spent 10 years as Archivist and Editor of The National Archives in Salisbury before obtaining a Doctorate of Modern History at Oxford. Latterly Lewis Gann was Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.


The Real Rhodesia – Ethel Tawse Jollie (1924 – reprinted in 1971)

Mrs Jollie, the first woman elected to any imperial parliament, was an active campaigner for responsible government in Rhodesia.  She gives an excellent account of life as it was in early 1920s Rhodesia and the issues facing the nation on the eve of the assumption of self-government in 1923.  (311pp)


Rhodesia and Independence – Kenneth Young (1967)

The Political Adviser to Beaverbrook Newspapers, and former editor of the Yorkshire Post, sketches the early history of Rhodesia and then goes into greater detail explaining the issues which led to Rhodesia’s Declaration Independence in 1965 and the subsequent reaction to it.  (566pp)


Rhodesia Accuses (1966) and Rhodesia Condemns (1967) – A.J.A. Peck

Anthony Peck, a lawyer, studied Law and English Literature at Rhodes University and Oriel College, Oxford.  He twice stood as a left of centre candidate against the Rhodesian Front which became the governing party from 1962.  His letter to the Times condemning British subterfuge in their dealings with Rhodesia may be read here.

These two books, are of 170 and 230 pages respectively.


Rhodesia, The Story of the Crisis – Desmond Lardner-Burke (1966)

Rhodesia’s Minister of Justice explains Rhodesia’s case for Independence. (101pp)


The Welensky Papers – Dr. J.R.T. Wood (1983)

Based on eleven years of research, Commonwealth Scholar and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Richard Wood, aided by access to Sir Roy Welensky’s private archive papers, has written the definitive history of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. (1330pp)


So far and no further! – Dr. J.R.T. Wood (2005)

Dr. Wood chronicles the British attempts to force premature majority rule on a reluctant Rhodesia 1959-1965. A graduate of Rhodes and Edinburgh Universities, Dr Richard Wood is probably the world’s leading historian on post war Rhodesian political and military history. (533pp)


A matter of weeks rather than months  Dr. J.R.T. Wood (2005)

The third book on post war Rhodesian history, being the fruit of 37 years research by Richard Wood, covers the period of sanctions and aborted settlements 1965 – 1969. (681pp)

Kwete – No!  Dr. J.R.T. Wood (2015) This is the latest book covering the pre and post UDI period.  The years 1969 – 1972 saw Rhodesia become a republic and a final settlement of the independence issue signed between Britain and Rhodesia.  This would have led to eventual “majority rule” but the agreement was thwarted by the delayed Pearce Commission being persuaded by certain nationalist politicians that it was not to the liking of the people. I have only just obtained my copy of this book, and have yet to read it, but feel sure that Dr. Wood will continue to share with his readers the results of his usual thorough research which is believed to include access to the personal archive of Ken Flower who was head of Rhodesia’s Central Intelligence Organisation. (576 pp)   Among other places, this book may be obtained at Helion30 Degrees South and Casemate.


A Right to be Proud – A.P. Di Perna (1973 & 1978)

Dr. Di Perna obtained a doctorate of philosophy from St. John’s University, New York after retiring as a Lieut-Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.  This book mainly covers the period 1890-1923 with an emphasis on the clamour for self-government prior to 1923. (245pp)


Deserve to be Great – W.D. Gale M.B.E. (1960)

The story of Rhodesia and Nyasaland up to 1960.


One Man’s Hand – J.P.R. Wallis M.A., O.B.E. (1950, reprinted 1972)

A biography of Rhodesia’s first Prime Minister, Sir Charles Coghlan, who worked tirelessly for Rhodesia’s self-government and was in office from 1923 until his death in 1927. (254pp)


Rhodesia: Birth of a Nation – F.R. Metrowich (1969)

The Publications Editor of the Africa Institute of South Africa gives a short account of Rhodesia’s history and covers the period 1965 – 1968 in more detail. (168pp)


Letters from Wankie  Patricia Friedberg (2013)

“A gorgeous, touching, tragic tale of a lost – but now, thanks to Patricia Friedberg – never forgotten time in a remote corner of [1950s] colonial Africa” per Douglas Rogers, New York Times (261pp)


For some short personal accounts of Cecil Rhodes, see also here.