The Afrikaners: Biography of a People
This book is a biography of the Afrikaner people. A historian and journalist who was one of the earliest and staunchest Afrikaner opponents of apartheid, Hermann Giliomee weaves together life stories and historical interpretation to create a narrative history of the Afrikaners from their beginnings with the colonization of the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch East India Comp...more
Paperback, 720 pages
Published September 22nd 2003 by University of Virginia Press
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Truly a masterpiece. This should be required reading in any history course that focuses on African politics or sociology course. How Giliomee details the formation of the Afrikaner people to what they consist of today, the way they weathered and absorbed various other peoples, their great migrations and leaders - truly an incredible piece of well-referenced detailed research. It is palatable, interesting, and frankly, the only TRUE and honest depiction of South Africa you can even find in jaded...more
Still reading but a phenomenal work on an amazing people. Given me a lot of new insights into the backstory of Afrikaners. Warts and all, one cannot help but admire this resilient, enduring people. Best summed up by Giliomee's account of Retief's wife's letter to the VOC after her husband and his group were massacred: "Send more supplies. We're staying." Or as the say in Afrikaans: 'Ons vat nie jou kak nie. Ons bly.'
The content of this book is fascinating, but It reads like a textbook. Wish Giliomee had put a little more effort into the narrative flow - I started strong but after a couple of hundred pages this got pushed to the 'dip into every so often pile' rather than 'pick up every night'. Not designed for the casual reader, but still essential reading if you've a genuine interest in SA history, and worth ploughing through.
This very thick, heavy book looks like a text book - and sometimes reads like a text book - but the history of the white immigrants to South Africa is really interesting. If you like history, especially colonial history, give this one a look. I am reading it slowly, but have found it is better for me to digest a book like this in sections.