The Boer War – Thomas Pakenham
The war declared by the Boers on 11 October 1899 gave the British, as Kipling said, ‘no end of a lesson’. The public expected it to be over by Christmas. It proved to be the longest (two and three-quarter years), the costliest (over 200 million pounds), the bloodiest (at least 22,000 British, 25,000 Boer and 12,000 African lives) and the most humiliating war that Britain fought between 1815 and 1914.
Thomas Pakenham has written the first full-scale documentary history of the war to be attempted since 1910. His narrative is based on first-hand and largely unpublished sources. He has combed the original British documents in the Public Record Office and the material in South African archives. He has traced the private papers of most of the protagonists. He found the letters of Sir Redvers Buller — the British Commander-in-Chief in 1899 — letters which had remained hidden under the billiard table at Buller’s house in Devon.
He has unearthed new material from the trunk-loads of Lord Roberts’s papers, discovered a massive secret journal of the war compiled by the War Office Intelligence Department, and found the private letters from the War Minister, Lord Lansdowne and other members of the Cabinet. And he has dug up several hundred sets of letters and diaries written by the men who fought in the war, among numerous other sources.