The Boer War

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Review: "The Boer War" by Edgar Holt  (1959) 
by Robert Walker Davis

Review: The Boer War By Edgar Holt; Reviewed by Robert Walker Davis

In 1902, the year the Boer, or South African War came to an end, an eight year old boy by the name of Allen Welsh Dulles authored a thirty-one page book (and had it published) called, appropriately enough, The Boer War; a History. Since that time a rather extensive bibliography of books pertaining to the Boer War has come to pass, as it comes to pass, alas, for all wars, but of these books few are one volume surveys of the 1899-1902 war in South Africa. Conan Doyle and J. F. C. Fuller did creditable jobs of this type, but each author aimed for a different set of readers. Edgar Holt is the latest historian to do a creditable one volume survey on this war; he is a journalist with an interest in military history (The World at War, 1939-1945, 1956), and writes with a facile pen that possesses the backing of sound research and a mastery of the subject. Unlike the Spanish-American War, the Boer affair was neither splendid nor little. It was big, bloody, unhealthy (enteric fever), and lasted far too long. The third and final period of the war consisted of guerilla warfare; the second part saw the British reversal of the Boer victories of the first part; the latter ended with the relief of Lady-smith on 28 February 1900. All told nearly six thousand British and over four thousand Boers were killed, while the British suffered about twenty-three thousand losses in wounded soldiers. Edgar Holt begins his narrative with the British disaster at Majuba Hill in 1881, during the first Boer War. British soldiers who figured in that war and were to play some sort of a part in the second and greater Boer war were Redvers Buller, Ian Hamilton, Hector Macdonald, Frederick roberts and Carnet Wolseley; on the Boer side Joubert and de Wet were also active in both wars. British soldiers of prominence in World War I who played important roles in the second Boer War were Haig, Allenby, Ian Hamilton, Kitchener, Hohn French and Byng of Vimy Ridge. Winston Churchill was also there, and suffered the indignity of being captured by the Boers. On the South African side, Jan Christian Smuts, with a great future ahead of him, played an active part in the Boer campaigns. The British Army came out of the war an efficient machine, hardened and stirring with ideas of twentieth century military renown. It had gone into the war an efficient, hardened, "nineteenth" century machine. That sort of machine simply couldn't cope with Boer rifles, backed by the amazing Boer marksmanship. As the Cuban imbroglio put new life into the Army of the United States, the South African business rejuvenated, in every sense of the word, the British Army. The Spaniards and the Boers, therefore, at the turn of the century, played a great part in the defeat of the superb German Army of 1914-1918. At a time when the rash of books on the American Civil War has reached appalling proportions, Mr. Holt's excellent little reminder that some pretty important and serious fighting took place on the South African veldt thirty-five years after Appomattox is both welcome and informative. Robert Walker Davis Washington, D. C. Davis, Robert Walker ((Summer, 1959)), “Review: [untitled The Boer War]”, Military Affairs 23 (No. 2): pp. 111-111, <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1985516> 

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Works published in 1959 would have had to renew their copyright in either 1986 or 1987, i.e. at least 27 years after it was first published / registered but not later than 31 December(31 December) in the 28th year. As it was not renewed, it entered the public domain on 1 January 1988(1 January 1988).