3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2011
For the serious student of the Boer War, who may already have worked his way through the half-dozen "essential" books about this conflict, this book by Lord Carver deserves attention. It could easily be added to that list of "essential" titles and, although shorter, could stand alongside Thomas Pakenham's The Boer War.
What makes Lord Carver's book so worthwhile is that he had access to soldiers' letters written at the time of the conflict. They give a vivid, fresh picture of the major events, and communicate the prevailing attitudes. A really interesting decision was to leave the letters as they were written, with grammatical mistakes, poor spelling and mistaken places names intact, although they have been re-set in type. The overall effect generates wonderful atmosphere; something which is often missing from learned studies of this period.
The maps at the back of the book are well drawn and show the Tugela/Ladysmith battles, and those around Kimberley and Paardekraal, in some detail. There are also many photographs, some of which this reviewer has not seen before. Overall, a work that is highly recommended.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2002
Not being either British or South African, I had a very limited knowledge of the Boer War when I picked up this book in a Banbury bookstore. As it turned out, this book gives a very confusing account of what happened during the war. It quotes extensively from letters sent home from the British soldiers but this approach fails to give the reader the big picture. It is undeniable that a battlefield is a very confusing place to be from the viewpoint of a single soldier and I would much rather have read more about the grand strategies and the tactics discussed at army headquarters. Also, the whole war is discussed from the British viewpoint and the Boers remain an anonymous mass.
Finally, I would have liked to see a more detailed account of the background to the war and what led Britain to send soldiers thousands of miles to fight a war in a distant corner of the world.