The Boer War by Thomas Pakenham
Orion Publishing Co | 27 January 1997
Hardback | 688 pages
The war declared by the Boers on 11 October 1899 gave the British, as Kipling said, no end of a lesson'. The public expected it to be over by Christmas, but it proved to be the longest (two and three-quarter years), the costliest (over 200 million), the bloodiest (at least 22,000 British, 25,000 Boer and 12,000 African lives) and the most humiliating war that Britain fought between 1815 and 1914. Thomas Pakenham's was the first full-scale documentary history of the war to be attempted since 1910. His narrative is based on first-hand and largely unpublished sources, from British and South African archives to the private papers, letters and diaries of the protagonists and soldiers of both sides, and the tape-recorded memories of over fifty survivors. Out of this historical goldmine, Thomas Pakenham has constructed a narrative as vivid and fast-moving as a novel, and throws new light on the blunders and personal feuds of the British generals. He writes movingly of the plight of the 100,000 black Africans who served both armies, and explains the final political victory of the Boers - how they lost the war but won the peace - with far-reaching consequences for Europe and South Africa.