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The Boer War

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  637 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Boer War, The, by Pakenham, Thomas
Hardcover, 718 pages
Published October 12th 1979 by Random House (first published October 3rd 1979)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,382)
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Checkman
Jan 10, 2014 Checkman rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, anyone curious about The Boer War
A well done narrative of the Boer War. Mr. Pakenham has written a book which resists the easy path of political correctness and doesn't engage in simple minded ideology. He has attempted to show both sides as truthfully as possible. His one very daring act is the effort to show General Buller in a different light - going against decades of historians that have written him off as nothing, but an incompetent. It's become accepted that General Buller is just another example of the idiots that were ...more
Elwood D Pennypacker
A fascinating history of competition over material wealth between paternalistic racists (and somewhat ferocious anti-Semites)with chipper dispositions vs. angry, frothing at the mouth puritan racists (with a strange involvement of Semites, not to be repeated by their Germanic forefathers up north in a couple of generations). Funny hats, funny names, serious murders. Written when apartheid seemed almost invincible but sensing a change was about to come, there is a great post-colonial perspective ...more
Michael
Aug 29, 2010 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, military historians, South Africans
Recommended to Michael by: Barnes & Noble clerk
I first read this book as the beginning of my autodidactic project of reading one book about each of the wars fought in the 20th Century. (This was foiled by my failure to find a good book on the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. Any suggestions will be welcome.) At the time, I found it a thrilling account of a war about which I knew virtually nothing, and I did gain a certain insight into the changes from 19th-century colonial warfare to the 20th-century variety. On reviewing it today, however, now t ...more
Dusk Peterson
A dramatically compelling narrative paired with magnificent scholarship - a rare treasure. Here's an excerpt, concerning the British Commander-in-Chief:

"Kitchener's own sense of isolation at GHQ had reached a climax. Even with his 'band of boys', he found ordinary human contact impossible. Only 'the Brat', Captain Frank Maxwell, VC, his fair-haired young ADC, had found a way to Kitchener's heart, if heart it was. 'He is awfully shy,' the Brat wrote home, describing K. 'He really feels nice thing
...more
Robert

The definitive history of the second Boer War. this work is written in the grand tradition of narrative history - in prose that is lucid, witty, and dramatic.

The author's scholarship is deep, comprehensive, and objective. The political and economic factors that led to the war and that continued to influence both its conduct and its final settlement are fully developed. This background information is particularly essential in understanding the thinking of the Boer political and military leadersh
...more
James
An amazing book. Enjoyed the analytical insights as well as the descriptive components, which are necessary to understand the terrain
the British were fighting. Illustrates the toughness and resourcefulness of the Boers and sheds light on the not-so-brilliant
British army, yet shows there potential for shrewdness and all out visciousness to win the war. The use of the 'concentration camps' (possibly the first ever used) to separate the Boers from their families came as a surprise to me. I did not
...more
Jonnie Enloe
Overlooked war in overlooked period in time. Needs to be read just after "Washing of the Spears" a narrative of the British wars in sub-Saharan Africa in second half of the 19th century.
Ruth
Published in 1979, this book won The Cheltenham Prize in 1980. According to sources on the Web, "The Cheltenham Prize is awarded at the Cheltenham Literature Festival to the author of any book published in the relevant year which "has received less acclaim than it deserved". This is an apt description of this book. Well written and well researched, it details a war that remains relatively unknown to those outside of the conflict. The author is the 8th Earl of Longford (b 1933) and is the brother ...more
Richard Thomas
A good account of a shameful part of Britain's history. The combination of greed for gold and land with an mad imperial mission on the part of the British came into conflict with the Calvinist certainties of the Boer republic.
Richard Mayer
A model of clear, concise, balanced historical writing - one of the greatest works on South African history. Simply must be read for anyone wishing to understand twentieth century South African history.
James
The definitive, all-round history of the causes, events, people, and results of the Boer War; many of the people whose actions are covered appeared in prominent roles later in the 20th century, including several of the British officers and Winston Churchill. Like the American Civil War, several elements of the Boer War foreshadowed dark aspects of wars to come, including the invention of concentration camps, hit-and-run guerrilla warfare using long-range sniping with newly accurate rifles, quick ...more
Al
This is perhaps the best one volume work on the Boer war currently on the market. Pakenham does a great job explaining how the war started and his analysis on the operational deficiencies of Britain in the beginning and how they overcame these deficiencies is fascinating. This is not just a battlefield narrative. Packenham also explores the political, social and diplomatic aspects of the years leading up to the war, as well as how these criteria affected the conduct and outcome of the war. A tru ...more
Dave
Highly readable account of the British/Afrikaner war fought in South Africa at the turn of the previous century. Places the war in the context as a lead-up to World War I. Highlights the British use of concentration camps for the families of Afrikaner guerrilla soldiers to force surrender. Also provides an overview of racial policies by British and Afrikaner officials and provides a good grounding in the roots of later apartheid polices of the Republic of South Africa.
Kev
Been a while since i read this too but still think about it every so often. Redvers (reverse) Buller, concentration camps, Louis Botha, De Wet, de la Rey, Spioenkop, Colenso all big names from Afrikaner folklore. A great read for anyone with an interest in British colonialism, especially after the lessons they were taught by the Zulus not long before.
David Smith
Read this a long time ago - one of the best on the subject. He's also very good on trees.
Mike
Pakenham is certainly one of my favorite authors. He supplies every bit of information you could ever want, and then some. He details every nuance of the situation but never makes it feel tedious or drawn out. a three year war summed up in 630 pages-makes sense to me.
Jonathan Hopkins
Great overview, even if the first third was politicking. Which the war was mostly about.
This is the first campaign history I've not struggled to read at some point, so excellent writing.
Seth
Heavy duty academic military history about the Boer War in South Africa ca. 1900. Good, but discusses tactics, strategies and individial unit actions, so it's not for the casual reader.
Shaqer Rasheed
I bought this book for the princely sum of $ 2 in a second hand bookmarket in Dhaka. It is the best military history book I have read to date.
Brice
An excellent account of the Boer war. Pakenham deals with the politics as much as the battles, and that is always more interesting to me.
Chris
A bit if a slog to read but good to know about the war before the war to end all wars that lead to another war a d more wars after that.
Alexandra
Extremely interesting and extremely hard going all in one...I need a light-hearted read after this one...any ideas, anyone?
Alex
Great military and political history of the the Boer War, including its causes and what kicked off the conflict. Enjoyable.
Patrick Neylan
Fascinating, in-depth story of the war and its causes. Plenty of facts, but well-enough written to be read as a story.
Robyn
Given to my sweetheart December 2011 because he's interested in the Boer War. Should ask him whether it was any good.
James
An excellent, expansive history of a very important but little-understood conflict.
Allen
Incredible. Reads like a novel. Could hardly put it down.
Mick Maye
Story of the Boer War from the British side.
Steve Bolam
Engrossing and easy to read, just what I like.
Matthew Martens
fierce bunch back then, those boers.
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Thomas Francis Dermot Pakenham, 8th Earl of Longford, is known simply as Thomas Pakenham. He is an Anglo-Irish historian and arborist who has written several prize-winning books on the diverse subjects of Victorian and post-Victorian British history and trees. He is the son of Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford, a Labour minister and human rights campaigner, and Elizabeth Longford.

Thomas Pakenha
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