Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa [NOOK Book]

Overview

Southern Africa was once regarded as a worthless jumble of British colonies, Boer republics, and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. But then prospectors chanced upon the world’s richest deposits of diamonds and gold, setting off a titanic struggle between the British and the Boers for control of the land. The result was the costliest, bloodiest, and most humiliating war that Britain had waged in nearly a century, and the devastation of the Boer republics. The New ...
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Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa

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Overview

Southern Africa was once regarded as a worthless jumble of British colonies, Boer republics, and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. But then prospectors chanced upon the world’s richest deposits of diamonds and gold, setting off a titanic struggle between the British and the Boers for control of the land. The result was the costliest, bloodiest, and most humiliating war that Britain had waged in nearly a century, and the devastation of the Boer republics. The New Yorker calls this magisterial account of those years “[an] astute history.… Meredith expertly shows how the exigencies of the diamond (and then gold) rush laid the foundation for apartheid.”
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Editorial Reviews

Douglas Foster
"The buildup to this catastrophe [the Boer War] provides the narrative spine for Martin Meredith's accessible, nimble and moving account of the creation of pre-apartheid South Africa. It is complicated history, marked not only by the rivalries of European colonists but also by the varied fates of the indigenous groups the settlers overran. Without sacrificing nuance to story-line, Meredith manages to thread the tale through novelistic scenes and direct quotation."
—The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
Diamonds, Gold and War is the work of an author who knows African history intimately…Over time he has sifted through a century's worth of controversy over the context and causes of war between the British and the Boers to arrive at the version presented in these engrossing pages…Mr. Meredith's main accomplishment here is in providing a many-faceted, sensibly incisive overview of events that could easily be oversimplified, and have been in earlier accounts. Dismissing reductive ideas like the thesis that capitalism and imperialism collided to create a war that would benefit both, he shows how one misstep led to another, how fear yielded miscalculations, how national pride and arrogance created such poisonous conditions.
—The New York Times
The Spectator
Enthralling....Martin Meredith has made good use not only of recent scholarly work by also of contemporary sources... [Meredith] tells the story lucidly so that the reader can draw his own moral.
The New Yorker
[an] astute history . . . Meredith expertly shows how the exigencies of the diamond (and then gold) rush laid the foundation for apartheid.
Winnipeg Free Press
engrossing . . . Anyone interested in African history and the British Empire will find this book fascinating.
New York Times
A many-faceted, sensibly incisive overview of events that could easily be oversimplified, and have been in earlier accounts.
Kirkus Reviews
The unruly formation of South Africa, set to a backdrop of war over the country's invaluable resources. Meredith (The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair, 2005, etc.) plunders his expansive knowledge of the continent's history once again for this examination of the genesis of current-day South Africa. A ten-page introduction sketches Britain's contemptuous disinterest in the colony before the late 1800s; the main narrative opens in 1871, the year a fertile deposit of diamonds was discovered outside Cape Town. This triggered a hunt for further riches, and the region proved to be positively swimming in diamonds and gold. The author proceeds to take his readers on an epic journey into South African history stretching from 1871 to 1910 and revolving around the brutal, costly war that broke out between the British and the Boers, each side hungry for the riches springing from South African soil. Cecil Rhodes led the Brits, Paul Kruger the Boers; Meredith's vivid depictions of these men and their activities lie at the story's bloody heart. Rhodes is portrayed as a megalomaniac hell-bent on ruling over sizable portions of the globe. (His will contained instructions to extend British dominion throughout the world via a secret society he wished his successors to set up.) The author vibrantly captures the Brits' disastrous misjudgment of Kruger as "an uneducated, ill-mannered peasant." On the contrary, Meredith reveals, Kruger's oafish persona masked a keen intelligence far greater than he was given credit for; acknowledging this is key to understanding the strong resistance the Boers were able to stage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The author alsocovers a tremendous amount of ground beyond the battlefield before threading his various strands together to paint a fascinating picture of the Afrikaner nationalism that emerged from this turbulent period and eventually resulted in the formation of Apartheid. No stone is left unturned in this dynamic analysis of an intriguing period in African history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586486778
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 9/23/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 336,855
  • File size: 897 KB

Meet the Author

Martin Meredith is a journalist, biographer, and historian who has written extensively on Africa and its recent history. His previous books include Mugabe and The Fate of Africa. He lives near Oxford, England.
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Table of Contents


Map     xii
Author's Note     xv
Introduction     1
Part I
Diamond Fever     13
Blue Ground     22
Kimberley     33
The Diggers' Revolt     41
Enter the Magnates     50
Part II
The Imperial Factor     63
Oom Paul     74
The Washing of Spears     85
Majuba     95
Part III
The Diamond Bubble     107
The Stripping Clause     113
Dreams and Fantasies     125
The Road to the North     133
The German Spectre     143
The Most Powerful Company in the World     153
Part IV
A Chosen People     167
Johannesburg     176
The Corner House     186
A Marriage of Convenience     194
Part V
The Place of Slaughter     207
The Balance of Africa     214
To Ophir Direct     229
Kruger's Protectorate     238
Part VI
Groote Schuur     247
A Bill for Africa     259
Not for Posterity     270
The Loot Committee     279
Part VII
A Tale of Two Towns     291
The Randlords     302
The Rhodes Conspiracy     311
Jameson's Raid     323
Missing Telegrams     335
By Right of Conquest     354
Part VIII
The Richest Spot on Earth     365
Nemesis     378
The Great Game     386
The Drumbeat for War     403
Ultimatums     416
Part IX
The Fortunes of War     427
Marching to Pretoria     436
Scorched Earth     449
The Bitter End     462
Envoi     470
Part X
The Sunnyside Strategy     481
Vukani Bantu!     494
The Black Ordinance     504
The Sphinx Problem     511
Epilogue     520
Chapter Notes     527
Select Bibliography     539
Index     551
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 14, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Entertaining, and because of its logical organization, very easy

    Entertaining, and because of its logical organization, very easy to follow. A great first book for someone learning about South African history as well as an excellent perspective for those who have read much on the topic. Clearly explains--without being pedantic--the birth of the diamond industry, the Boer War, the uneasy cohabitation between the Dutch/Afrikaners and the British. An entertaining biography of the giants of the period, like Cecil Rhodes, Paul Krueger, and "the Randlords." Overall, an excellent book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 22, 2009

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