Thanks to newly discovered letters and documents, A Handful of Heroes updates the history of the Defence of Rorke's Drift, which will forever be one of the most celebrated British feats of arms. Remarkably after such prolonged historical scrutiny, the author's research proves that there is yet more to discover about this famous incident of the Zulu War 1879 and her superbly researched book reveals a number of myths that have distorted what happened during the gallant defence of the small Mission Station. For example, it transpires that the isolated outpost was already well prepared for an attack by experts in field defence. While this in no way denigrates the heroic efforts of the heavily out-numbered defenders, it does help to explain the successful defence against seemingly overwhelming odds This fascinating and highly readable account goes on to examine in detail the famous Chard Report which has long been relied on by historians and authors. Doubts emerge as to its accuracy and evidence is provided which suggests the Report's author was coerced by a senior officer in order to protect the latter's reputation.Likewise the letters of August Hammar, a young Swedish visitor to the Mission, put Reverend Otto Witt's false account into perspective.
These and other revelations make A Handful of Heroes a fresh and important addition to the bibliography of this legendary Zulu War engagement.
Katie Stossel was an operating theatre sister who became fascinated by the Anglo Zulu War during a visit to South Africa. This led her to research and write the inspiring story of Sister Janet Wells (Sister Janet - Heroine of the Zulu War, Pen and Sword Books 2006). Katie, who lives in Kent, regularly lectures on the subject.