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To Hell with Cronjé

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  76 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Two scientists, Reitz Steyn and Ben Maritz, find themselves in a transit camp for those temporarily and permanently unfit for battle during the Boer War. Captured on suspicion of desertion and treason they wait for weeks for a judgment until they are sent on a bizarre mission . . . A South African Heart of Darkness. ...more
Paperback, 234 pages
Published September 15th 2010 by Open Letter (first published 2002)
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Joshua Finnell
Library Journal Review:

Winner of the 2004 Hertzog Prize, the most prestigious award in Afrikaans literature, this novel traces the journey of two destitute soldier/scientists, Reitz and Ben, as they transport an emotionally shattered friend across the barren desert of South Africa during the Boer War. Along the way, the two scientists keep meticulous records of geological and entomological discoveries in their journals. Not just the process of travel but the conditions of travel are in the
Jun 12, 2012 marked it as to-read
I think I would really just like to read everything Open Letter has ever published.
Ronald Morton
My friends, he says, the war has never been as close to being over as it is at this moment. No more than two months. End of May, beginning of July it will all be over.
Ben nods. Reitzs mouth is dry.
The War is nearly over, says Oompie--his eyes glazed over, his voice hardly recognisable, but its not the end of the struggle by far. The struggle will not be over in your lifetime, nor in your childrens lifetime, nor in the lifetime of your childrens children.
Has the struggle been in vain then? asks
Feb 23, 2014 rated it liked it
The slow pace of this book was nice. The two scientists notice so much along with way that is so different from the war. It must be one of the messages of the book - that life goes on despite terrible circumstances and everyone is affected to some degree. I liked the different landscape and the starkness of the writing which matched the geography of South Africa. One image I loved was of the man weeping and leaning against the horse's patient flank for a while before continuing on. I have never ...more
slow jog through the outback of south africa during boer war. soldiers who don;t want to be soldiers anymore (scientists of nat hist and geol) but eventually get caught up, back up, with the malstrom. author won hertzog prize 2004 for this. hoping we will see more of winterbach
yea open letter press!
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For its English translation, Niggie has been retitled To Hell with Cronjé in reference to a minor general in the Second Boer War. To many Boers this was the War of Liberation, or Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, fought from 1899-1902 between the British Empire and the independent Boer nations of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. Following the discovery of gold and diamonds within their respective borders, the Boers faced a massive influx of uitlanders, their name for migrant workers ...more
Ingrid Winterbach's "To hell with Cronje" tells the story of Reitz and Ben, scientists who are reluctantly drafted into war. Together they attempt to get their fellow soldier (who is suffering severe PTSD after watching his brother's brutal death) return to his mother in the hopes he will recover. On the surface a simple novel, it becomes an exploration of lasting friendship, grief and the search for love, and the devastating waste that war leaves in its path.
Chad Post
DISCLAIMER: I am the publisher of the book and thus spent approximately two years reading and editing and working on it. So take my review with a grain of salt, or the understanding that I am deeply invested in this text and know it quite well. Also, I would really appreciate it if you would purchase this book, since it would benefit Open Letter directly.
Margot Uys
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Chilling account of the effect of war - in this book the Anglo Boer war - on people and relationships. It is a gem, I read it in English but would love to read it in Afrikaans as well. I grew up with many stories of heroism from the war, this one markedly different.
Regardt Van
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the book. One of the best descriptions of the futility of war and the transience of life I've read.
Mariana Celliers
Mar 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The atmoshpere that the author devised is quite remarkable as well as the sub-text.
Dec 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
It took me a while to warm to this novel, but I'm glad I read it, even if it is written (the translation anyway) in the present tense, which I can't stand in fiction.
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Also wrote as Lettie Viljoen.

Ingrid Winterbach is a South African author who primarily writes in Afrikaans. She is married to Andries Gouws and has two daughters. She lives in Durban.

She was born in Johannesburg in 1948. She studied Afrikaans, Dutch and Fine Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand. Lettie Viljoen's first novel was entitled Klaaglied vir Koos ("Lament for Koos"), and was

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