on 30 January 2005
I picked up this book fascinated to know more of the country for which all I really knew of was apartheid and the Boer War. The history of South Africa is indeed a huge subject and well worth the 500 page read of this book. Welsh describes the initial settlements in South Africa, both British and Dutch and how control of the various colonies changed hands frequently before the Boer War. He then describes (not in a huge amount of detail I was pleased to note) the Boer War itself and the politics that took place after it. This then leads into the apartheid system and finally to the racially free elections which Nelson Mandela won.
What I found fascinating about this book was the racist views which were ingrained into the settlers of 19th century South Africa. I had never appreciated how far back the beliefs of separating black people from white people went. I had also never appreciated how many wars took place in South Africa during that time.
As a book to read cover to cover, this isn't that easy a book to follow with enough people to warrant a reference at the back. However, other than this Welsh does a fine job of keeping the reader intrigued. His writing is somewhat colloquial at times (giving his opinion on people which really shouldn't find its place in a history book) but his in depth research on the subject shines through. Definitely recommended.
on 30 April 2002
Biased, unobjective, sneering, superior, too politically correct. Filled with an author's bitchy comments (which should not be present in a history book - eg "fat and pathetic...")But crafted with considerable effort and research. Still the only compact, almost readable book for a first time visitor to the beautiful and maligned land of South Africa.
on 19 March 2015
A very good book, well-written, and containing a lot of really interesting information about South Africa, including pre-colonial times. Lovely to read, fascinating to learn from.