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Diamonds, Gold and War: The Making of South Africa Paperback – 7 Jul 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (7 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416526374
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416526377
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Martin Meredith is the author of many acclaimed books on Africa including lives of Robert Mugabe and Nelson Mandela and, most recently, The State of Africa (Free Press, 2005). He lives near Oxford.

Product Description

About the Author

Martin Meredith is a journalist, biographer and historian who has written extensively on Africa and its recent history. He is the author of many books including The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence; Mugabe: Power, Plunder, and the Struggle for Zimbabwe, and Mandela: A Biography. He lives near Oxford.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Niel Black on 27 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Meredith, a prolific writer about African (mostly post-colonial) history, covers southern Africa from the discovery of diamonds through to 1910 and the Union of South Africa - and so packs in a fasinating chunk of events and people - diamond and gold rushes, Zulu and Boer wars, Cecil Rhodes and Paul Kruger. It focuses on what is now South Africa, but covers most of British-ruled southern Africa, including the founding of Rhodesia.

The books greatest strengths are a great topic and readability. I got through the 523 pages pretty fast, helped by plenty of quotes from contemporaries and lively detail - like the decoration of Rhodes Capetown mansion of Groote Schuur. I found him particularly good on Rhodes', and later Milner's, political manoeuvrings designed to expand British influence, against Bower opposition and scepticism in London - and to the great cost of the black population (don't buy it if you want to feel good about British colonialism). I bought the book about South African after a holiday in South Africa, feeling ignorant about its history. This book addressed that perfectly.

It's perhaps not ideal for someone who knows the subject well. Packing so much in means that each topic is covered pretty swiftly, and there is more narrative than analysis. But as an introduction it is great.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Pirlo on 18 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
The book covers South African history from the 1870s to 1910, a fascinating period of history involving the clash of British Imperialism, the Afrikaaner states of the Transvaal and Orange Free State, indiginous Zulu uprisings and the beginnings of the pass system. Central characters are Cecil Rhodes, Jameson, Kruger, De La Rey - and their roles in the ultimate disaster of the Anglo-Boer war.

For anyone interested in SA, late Victorian history or history generally, this is a superb book, well written and fascinating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darren O'Connell on 2 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
As a student of colonialism in all its forms, I knew relatively little about the evolution of South Africa from 1806 to the start of the Boer War. I recently read a harrowing history of the DeBeer's stranglehold on the diamond industry whose continued existence (or unfortunate persistence), in spite of global sanctions against monopolies and all of the economic evils they entail, has its antecedents in the "entreprenurialism" of Rhodes, Beit and company during the power struggles between the British and Boer over hegemony of southern Africa during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Histories on SA up to this point I felt were scant on the actual detail or origin of many of SA's recent history and current problems. Enter Mereidith's fine work on filling in the gaps.

Here we have a rapid, fast paced account of the development of southern Africa from the time the British annexed the Cape Colony during the Napoleonic Wars, and her troubles in reconciling the needs of two distinctly European settler types, despite successful precedent in other parts of the empire. The story is indeed one of self-determination (Boer) versus the needs of Pax Britanica. The fact that Britain was unable to stand residing side-by-side with a European derivative republic boils down to on-the-ground personalities, jealousies, greed and international insecurity- in short, the love of money dictated the evolution and destinies of entire civilisations, a hangover whose pain is even now still felt.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BookFiend on 12 April 2012
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Highly readable and engrossing, Martin Meredith tells the story of the complex, tortured history of the colonisation of the southern half of Africa, including the life of Cecil Rhodes, the Boer War and many less well known aspects vital to understanding the whole. Meredith teases out the tangle of events (many of which were covered in propaganda, lies and concealment at the time) and tries to sort fact from fiction and explain contemporary opinion as well as that of today. Highly recommended.
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By Jetzipops on 13 Jun. 2014
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I visited South Africa in March 2014 for the first time, I was on a trip to see the wildlife. The wildlife is amazing, but South Africa itself is a spectacular backdrop to it all. We visited Eshowe in KwaZulu Natal and stayed near the Fort Nongqayi Museum Village. The fort was built in 1883. My knowledge of the history of South Africa was around zero. When I returned I looked around for a book that would give me a good overview of the period from 1806 to 1905 and I picked Martin Meredith's. It's over 500 pages, but is a marvelous read. I finished it very quickly. It has a great bibliography and I'm using that as a pointer to other books about the Zulu and Boer wars.
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By Amazon Customer on 27 April 2013
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Excellent all round read -that provides a good background with the British, Boers , Europeans, Africans and tribes. The exploitation and development of the country is written well with key characters from start to end that makes it an easier read such Kruger and Cecil Rhodes.
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By Nico on 3 Jun. 2013
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Enjoyed reading "Diamonds Gold and War" thought it was a very good history of South Africa up till 1910. It was well researched and written and that made it interesting and a pleasure to read. In a nutshell very fine history writing, I would definitely recommend this book
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