The Boer War

The Boer War

4.14 (1,099 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback
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Originally published by Weidenfeld and Nicholson in 1979, an illustrated narrative of the Boer War, written by the author of SCRAMBLE FOR more

Product details

  • Paperback | 659 pages
  • 130 x 194 x 40mm | 458.13g
  • Little, Brown Book Group
  • Abacus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • illustrations; portraits
  • 0747409765
  • 9780747409762

Review Text

The Boer War (1899-1902) looms in retrospect as Britain's Vietnam: a limited engagement that would "be over by Christmas," it turned into the longest, the bloodiest, "and the most humiliating war for Britain between 1815 and 1914." Powerful Britain could take no comfort, moreover, from its terminus, for even if the Boer guerrillas "lost the war, they won the peace." Thomas Pakenham, one of the auspiciously prolific Longfords (he is the brother of Antonia Fraser, above), has now given this epochal contest its first full-length treatment in nearly 70 years. In the course of his long narrative, he skillfully maps out the causes, the course and the aftereffects of the war. He examines the actions of the leading personalities on both sides, and carefully traces the transformation of the conflict into a war of attrition. Among the book's many strengths are Pakenham's use of unpublished and even some previously unconsulted sources (including some 52 veterans whom he interviewed); his vivid descriptions of military engagements and his attention to ways and means, from the "smokeless, long-range, high velocity, small-bore magazine bullet" to "the Boers' secret weapon, the spade"; and, perhaps most notably, his focus on the "invisible" black majority, which suffered at the hands of both sides during the war and saw its political rights sold out at the peace. Pakenham also offers a number of key reinterpretations. He regards High Commissioner Alfred Milner as the single individual most responsible for starting the war, and moreover asserts - "contrary to the accepted view of later historians" - that such Rand millionaires as Alfred Bett and Julius Wernher were his accomplices. He is less than usually harsh, however, toward British general Buller, damned for his unsuccessful tactics early in the war. Anticipating a future conflict in South Africa, he observes finally that "black nationalism" will probably "match Afrikaner nationalism in stamina and perhaps outmatch it in bitterness." An intelligent, vigorous, firmly grounded presentation - and, self-evidently, the new standard work. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

1,099 ratings
4.14 out of 5 stars
5 39% (433)
4 40% (445)
3 16% (180)
2 3% (34)
1 1% (7)
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