- Ladysmith by Giles Foden
Faber, 366 pp, £9.99, September 1999, ISBN 0 571 19733 7
- Manly Pursuits by Ann Harries
Bloomsbury, 340 pp, £15.99, March 1999, ISBN 0 7474 4293 2
The Anglo-Boer War broke out on 11 October 1899. Two and three-quarter years later, at a conservative estimate, 22,000 Britons, 25,000 Boers and at least 12,000 Africans were dead: Anglo-Boer relations would not recover for a century. The centenary, one gathers, has been celebrated in the new South Africa with a certain diffidence. What could Nelson Mandela or his successor really contribute to the occasion? The English South Africans had been triumphant for a time, and had the wit to extend the hand of friendship to their enemies in the Union of 1910. The Boers took revenge in 1948 and we all know the unhappy story since then. Both sides are now bypassed for ever.