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Publisher's Summary

The Great Boer War (1899-1902) - more properly the Great Anglo-Boer War - was one of the last romantic wars, pitting a sturdy, stubborn pioneer people fighting to establish the independence of their tiny nation against the British Empire at its peak of power and self-confidence. It was fought in the barren vastness of the South African veldt, and it produced in almost equal measure extraordinary feats of personal heroism, unbelievable examples of folly and stupidity, and many incidents of humor and tragedy. 

Byron Farwell traces the war's origins, the slow mounting of the British efforts to overthrow the Afrikaners, the bungling and bickering of the British command, the remarkable series of bloody battles that almost consistently ended in victory for the Boers over the much more numerous British forces, political developments in London and Pretoria, the sieges of Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberley, the concentration camps into which Boer families were herded and the exhausting guerrilla warfare of the last few years when the Boer armies were finally driven from the field.  

This audiobook is a definitive history of a dramatic conflict by a master story teller and historian. Byron Farwell served as an officer in the North African and Italian campaigns in World War II and also in the Korean War. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1964, and is the author of Queen Victoria's Little Wars.

©2017 Byron Farwell (P)2019 Tantor

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More than a war, it was a human tragedy

The Anglo-Boer War is one of those [dirty little wars] that no one considers important enough to talk about. It is true that in terms of sheer scale WW1 and WW2 vastly over shadow it but the Boer War was it its heart the essence of what all wars are about "the use of violence to impose ones will upon another".

Both the Anglo South Africans (Boers) and the British had valid and also self-serving reasons for why the war was fought, the Boers wanted independence and to not be arbitrarily forced to bow the knee to a foreign power; the British wanted to end slavery in south Africa, prevent the Anglo South Africans from collapsing into Anarchy but also wanted power and the gold and diamond mines controlled by the Boers.

This book looks at the Boer War from both sides, it explains how each side saw themselves (both felt they had the moral high ground) and how they saw the other (greedy imperialists, stupid savages who needed to be made to kneel) and how they both fought in the War (Conventional vs unconventional) but it also shows something you don't oven see in war histories: The human aspect, the book recounts the bravery and cowardice, the triumphs and tragedies and most of all the cost exacted from both sides, it doesn't let you forget that both the Boers and the British were people, this was not the Rebel Alliance vs. the Evil Empire, this was two culturally and politically different people fighting and dying for what they believed to be right.

Even though the British won the Boer war it brought only poisoned fruit, it left thousands dead, many farms destroyed (some by the Boers others by the British) and in the end accomplished nothing of long term substance for either side. This is why I say that the Anglo Boer war was more than just a war it was a human tragedy and this book shows you how.

4 people found this helpful

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Exceptional account of little known war

This is an absolute must have and probably the one of the most definitive historical accounts of the Boer Wars in South Africa, and the narration of this audiobook is phenomenal.

As an American in the 21st century it was hard to find information, especially an audiobook detailing this little known, yet important war at the turn of the previous century. It will scratch your itch if you want to be familiar with the Boer Wars, and has made me entertain the idea of vacationing in South Africa to see the battlefields and museums(I just wish it was a safe country like it use to be).

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Gripping story of the Boer War, excellent narrator

As a South African I naturally had some knowledge of the Boer War (most of it probably gained while sitting bored in a history classroom at school), however I always felt I knew only a small fraction of the true story. Byron Farwell's book was the perfect antidote to my lack of knowledge.

The book is well written and well paced and never felt dull or stretched. He provides details of both the politics and the military side of the war (and pre-war), which go well together. He also addresses the more contentious elements of the war methodically and what seems to be reasonably fairly. He certainly displays considerable respect for both sides of the war and leaves you feeling that he too feels like this was a war which should never have been fought. Although I am South African, my grandparents on one side are British, so I have no preconceived views on who was in the right or wrong, however after finishing the book I couldn't help but feel sympathy for the Boers, who went through a terrible time and displayed incredible fortitude and courage. I would readily recommend the book to anyone with even the vaguest interest in the war or history in general.

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Excellent History of a Little Known War

I had read Packingham's book regarding the Anglo-Boer war and thought that to be the book to read to understand the war. I was wrong. This book not only discusses the war, but also the political situation during and after the war, which was very eye opening. Well worth the credit!

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Very dull and slow paced

I love reading history but this book spends way too much time on single events and is not entertaining at all.

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A truly balanced view.

I have always enjoyed the South African military history. this was one the most balanced and informative book that's paint an accurate and interesting point of view of the whole conflict. He really understands all the various parties and brings that forward.

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A must read piece of History!!

Well done piece of work by Byron Farwell bringing to light one of the Worlds most forgotten wars. Well presented by Nigel Patterson. Excellent piece of work.

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well done

I like the mix of story with detail and big picture. Gives a good historical perspective.

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An Engaging Perspective

I've read quite a few books about the Boer War but this is the first one that showed me a completely different and more objective perspective. It's an engaging historical narrative with lessons for our society today.

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Highly informative and relevant.

More of this history should be taught as one can see the patterns and threads that exist throughout history of man in the industrial ages.

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  • Lee Cobb
  • 02-12-19

Well Written Badly Narrated

The narrator’s pronunciation of certain words eventually got the better of me. I couldn’t carry on and stopped listening to the book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Panda
  • 04-30-20

Very Readable History

If you're into history you'll love this, Byron Farwell, brings all the separate strands of this history together in an very listenable way, the narration is excellent. Recommended!

1 person found this helpful

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  • tirnanog33
  • 05-17-19

super book.

l read this book some years ago. it was. worth listening to again in audio

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paul
  • 03-05-19

Excellent Book

Really enjoyed this extremely well researched book. it gives fascinating insight into the colonial days of Britain and the struggles of its subjects

1 person found this helpful

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  • Shuggie
  • 01-30-20

Enlightening and intriguing

A wonderful historic epic of a book, really enjoyed this shines a light on imperial thinking of the time.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-08-21

Absolutely brilliant

Extraordinary story telling, with drama and humour, capturing the age and idiocy of the war, in gloriously descriptive and entertaining language. Best war story l have ever read. A very detailed account, with out fear or favour. A must read. Hoping for more of his work, will be produced on Audible. Hats off to the Narator Nigel Patterson also. A wonderful voice, and timed the sentences beautifully. Well read indeed.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-21-21

Brilliant

Absolutely loved this. The story telling of the author, mixed with the voice of the narrator were so engaging I didn't want to put this down. Excellent part of history. Highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-28-21

Pure Excellence

Farwell’s masterly account of the 2nd Anglo-Boer war is richly packed with references from a wide and very deep pool of sources. Dense enough for the scholar to chew on yet written and narrated in a wonderful, personable style that takes a novice along for the ride without alienating them.
This volume is essential for anyone with a serious interest in one of the most fascinating and overlooked conflicts in recent history. The 2nd Anglo-Boer War was an enigmatic conflict, that was formative for both sides. Deeply engaging and important history.
I cannot recommend this highly enough.

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  • Kleinjan
  • 05-26-20

Epic in every sense. A truly great book.

Great resource for reconciliation. Every Afrikaner should read/listen this account. A great and Proud Heritage!