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The Undesirables Hardcover – 30 Jan 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Main Market Ed. edition (30 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447233239
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447233237
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 825,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A Chicago native, Dave Boling has been a journalist in the Pacific Northwest since 1980. Prior to that, he worked as a logger, iron-worker, boat-builder, bartender, bouncer, short-order cook, painter and college football coach. He lives on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. Guernica, his first novel, was voted Richard and Judy's best 'Summer Read' for 2009.

Product Description

Review

Another triumph from Dave Boling (Daily Mail)

This enthralling novel takes us straight to the nub of the second Boer War . . . it captures with raw vividness the emotions stirred by war and loss. The narrator's persona is sensitively crafted as a voice of defiance in the face of imprisonment, while struggling to comprehend the cultural clashes and contradictory personalities. (The Lady)

A heart-warming and eye-opening tale of one girl's struggle against the oppressors and how she copes as she comes of age . . . a real gem of a novel (thebookboy)

From the Inside Flap

While the vastly outnumbered Boer commandos fight in the field, half a million British soldiers torch a flaming path across the South African veld. As they go, the British imprison thousands of displaced Boer families, including Aletta Venter's, and cast them into newly devised 'concentration camps'.

In a crowded tent with her mother and siblings, Aletta finds ways to cope with the confinement, deprivation and loss, but searches for the rarest of comforts - a bit of adolescent normalcy, perhaps even the spark of forbidden romance. Her weapon of choice in this personal battle: A young girl's powerful sense of hope.

A deeply moving, intimate portrait of family, friendship and love, set against the backdrop?of the Second Boer War at the turn of the twentieth century, The Undesirables (the British term for those who refused to surrender) is the heart-rending yet life-affirming new novel from the top ten bestselling author of Guernica, winner of the Richard & Judy Summer Read.


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. M. Stamp VINE VOICE on 21 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dave Boling has used letters and articles written at the time of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War to write a moving story of life in the Prison Camps in South Africa. The Undesirables are the wives and children of the Dutch rebels fighting the British, who were sweeping across the Transvaal and Orange County burning farmsteads and killing tens of thousands of Boers and native South Africans.
The British had recently discovered the enormous mineral wealth in this area and decided it was ours for the taking.

It may seem a merciful act to spare innocents and take them to Prison Camps but this book shows what dreadful places they were. Hundreds of thousands died slowly of malnutrition and disease in filthy, primitive conditions--with an estimated 10 times more fatalities than on the battlefields.

As with his previous book, Guernica, Boling shows how resilient and brave people can be under the most extreme adversity. Strong faith, family bonds and self-discipline help to keep morale high. (Remember that, younger readers.)
The narrator is an intelligent teenager called Aletta Ventner and she contrasts tales of the pre-War idyllic life the family had on their farm with the harshness and sadness of the Prison Camp.

Boling obviously feels very strongly about the futility of war and how ordinary people are the ones who suffer and lose so much. Soldiers enlist for excitement or kudos or for a sense of duty but the horror of what war entails often makes them losers, too.

Beliefs are tested. How can you forgive your fellow man when he is so cruel? How can you trust when there is so much betrayal? And how can you allow yourself to love when you might lose them?

The Undesirables is not as detailed as Guernica and therefore probably not such a great read, but it is an eye-opener for anyone unfamiliar with a part of British History of which we should not be proud.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Terry L. Forward on 2 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Totally unable to wait for the US publication, I pre-ordered The Undesirables from Amazon.UK
Dave Boling's second novel runs the gamut from heartwarming to heart-wrenching. This brutally honest account of South Africa's second Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902, was an eye-opener for this American. Little recognition is given in our global history anthologies to this relatively brief war, yet it marked the start of such horrors as the scorched-earth policy, and worst of all, concentration camps. Boling presents a 5-star tale of friendship, love, and reconciliation amidst the unrelenting trials of war.

The tale is told in flashback by Aletta Venter, an adolescent farm girl, who was taken to a concentration camp along with her mother and siblings after their home and farmland were burned and livestock slaughtered by British soldiers. Chapters alternate between Aletta's years growing up in the Orange Free State and her years maturing in the concentration camp.

The author relies on the Venter's servant Bina to impart the "native" wisdom: "deeds live"; "words can be stone." The weight of the words "Letty" writes in her journal help her sort through what is real or hallucinatory, and to tell the true tale. The aunt Tante Hannah, as teacher to the Venter children, provides the historical background of their Dutch ancestors, and their descendants valiantly struggling to find a land in which to live in peace and to practice their religion. The British guard, Tommy Maples, provides the historical facts from the British side of the story, as well as a glimpse of how the war can affect the aggressor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 50 REVIEWER on 27 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
We meet Aletta Venter who is a young girl living on a remote farm in Boer country at the time of the Second Boer War. Her Grandfather, Father, Uncle and elder brother have all gone off on `commando' to take a guerrilla fight to the invading British. The women and children are left behind to face the music. The war was dragging on and Britain's army, being led by Haig, decided on a scorched earth policy to starve to Boers into submission.

So the `Tommie's turn up and burn the farms, kill the livestock, loot anything of value and lead the women and children into concentration camps. Aletta likes to write and she tells her story partly at the camp and partly in retrospect as to what her life had been. We get to hear how god- fearing they all are and as tough as old boots and don't accept that they nicked the land from the resident tribes in the first place. There is a good mix of characters here and everyone should be able to find a kindred spirit to identify with. A story like this needs to build up an empathy bank and this one tries its level best, but most of the qualities of the Boer made it very hard to fall in love with them.

I think it also helps if you did not know much about the history of this period - I did and so the `shock' value was completely lost on me. It was nice to include the works of Emily Hobhouse in her efforts to bring the plight of the camps to the general public. We don't meet too many Brits either but we do have a sympathetic guard - called Tommy who acts as a barometer for the conscience that most would have felt. Dave Boling has researched this very well and is more than a competent writer but don't think this is a Boer Anne Frank - though it is based on actual events. However, if you are a lover of historically based fiction then I think you will find much here to keep you interested - recommended.
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