THE BOER WAR by James Barbary


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This has the aspect of a film that's been quixotically cut but what's missing is not only sense--it's also the essence of history. We see the vortrekkers setting out (in a fictionalized vignette of ten-year-old Paul Kruger), Potgeiter subduing the Matabele, the British taking the trekker settlement in Port Natal; then we switch to sixteen-year-old Cecil Rhodes arriving in Port Natal (now Durban) in 1870, the Kimberley diamond strike, Rhodes' fortune therefrom--unexplained except for his reputed ruthlessness. Without a word on Kruger in the intervening years except that he's become president of the Transvaal, without any mention of how Rhodes' activities affected the Boers, we get Kruger's diatribes against him. Then we skip to 1885 when Rhodes and Kruger first meet. Anyone familiar with South African history will notice the omission of strains within the Transvaal, British annexation (1877), armed revolt (1880-81), etc., etc. The Rhodes-Kruger confrontation is itself typical of incidents that fill space without filling out: Kruger is pictured as obdurate, then as capitulating, with no explanation in between. And there's Mr. Barbary's questionable identification of the Bushmen, Hottentots and Bantu as the area's ""three Negro races"" when many anthropologists do not designate the first two as Negro, do see them as linked to each other, and do not characterize the Bantu as a race. And the Cape Coloured are a mixture of European and African, not descendants of Hottentots. Shaky in detail and design.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1969
Publisher: Meredith