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Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa Paperback – September 22, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (September 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586486411
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586486419
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Despite the depth of scholarly research it contains, this book reads not as dry history but as a vivid and thrilling account of the forging of southern Africa into its present distinctive shape and character. Martin Meredith captures the colours and textures of the land and brings to life the extraordinary figures who peopled it and whose influence lingers on. His descriptions of Rhodes and Kruger, of Robinson and Barnato and all the other actors, rogues and heroes of this epic drama played out upon the scorched African veldt are filled with fascinating insights and rich with anecdotes which bring them bursting from these pages. This is a book that will take a prominent place upon my bookshelf and which I know I will re-read time and again over the years ahead." -- Wilbur Smith, author of The Quest and River God

"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 Spectator, October 31, 2007

"Meredith offers an unvarnished portrait of what might be called 'Britain's worst hour... Diamonds, Gold, and War is a fine history of the formation of the most powerful country in Africa. It will certainly make uncomfortable reading for Rhodes' scholars, who may be shocked to learn of the bloodshed caused by the man whose name they wear with pride." -- The American, October 26, 2007

"No stone is left unturned in this dynamic analysis of an intriguing period in African history." -- Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007

"[an] astute history... Meredith expertly shows how the exigencies of the diamond (and then gold) rush laid the foundation for apartheid." -- New Yorker, October 8, 2007

"engrossing...Anyone interested in African history and the British Empire will find this book fascinating." -- Winnipeg Free Press, October 7, 2007

"A many-faceted, sensibly incisive overview of events that could easily be oversimplified, and have been in earlier accounts." -- New York Times, November 29, 2007 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About 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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Customer Reviews

History at its best in fact.
Seth J. Frantzman
The book mainly centers on the diamond, gold magnates such as Rhodes, Beit etc.
Salvador Stadthagen
Great history about the early days of South Africa.
carrot

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on December 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best histories of Africa written in modern times from one of Africa's greatest chroniclers. A vast history of Southern Africa from 1871 to 1911 this is an epic tale of greed, settlement and war set amongst some fo the most colorful peoples and characters of the period. Mostly the book examines the personalities of Cecil Rhodes and Paul Kruger and the clash of the English and the Afrikaners. But it is bigger in scope than that. Blending history covered elsewhere(The Great Anglo-Boer War and The Scramble for Africa: White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876-1912, The Washing of the Spears: A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation Under Shaka and Its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879) it also has an incisive and balanced view of the history, without judgement, this is more a tale of tragedy, in the Greek form, than mere history.

History at its best in fact. The book moves from the discovery of diamonds near Kimberly in 1871, to the battle for the control of the 'road north' to modern day Zambia and the final destruction of Afrikaner freedom in the Boer War. All the while in the background is the developing race issues and multitude of diversity that would chance Africa forever in the 20th century.

For students of African history this will be a rivetting read and for those looking for an introduction to the history of Southern Africa they will be pleasently suprised.

Seth J. Frantzman
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Woollard on March 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have read several books (though certainly not enough) about South Africa: 'The Great Boer War,' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; 'The Corner House,' by A.P. Cartwright; 'The Randlords,' by Geoffrey Wheatcroft; 'White Tribe Dreaming,' by Marq de Villiers; 'The Boer War,' by Thomas Pakenham; and 'The Covenant,' by James A. Michener, but until I got into my latest purchase, 'Diamonds, Gold and War,' by Martin Meredith, I was not entirely sure why I had become more than sympathetic to the old Boers and to Afrikanerdom.

Mr Meredith has given me all of the necessary reasons and, as a life-time admirer of the British Empire and its works, I was made more firmly angry and ashamed at what some of those ostensibly promoting the Empire had done to those to whom the British people should have been attached and who should not have been antagonised and attacked.

Cecil Rhodes's dream of colonising from The Cape to Cairo had great merit, especially if one recalls to what depths much of Africa has descended since Rhodes's day, but it was clearly a gross mistake and an unforgivable deed to betray his Cape Boer friend, Jan Hofmeyr, and his potential friends, President Paul Kruger of The Transvaal and President Marthinus Steyn of The Orange Free State. Rhodes comes out of the book badly, as do his co-conspirator, Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, and, worst of all, the British High Commissioner and Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Alfred Milner.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Journalist, biographer, and historian Martin Meredith presents Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa, a thorough history of the Cape Colony in southern Africa from when the British took possession of it in 1806 to the founding of modern South Africa in 1910. The chronicle heats up in 1871, when diamonds were discovered in southern Africa - in tremendous quantities. A massive struggle between the British and the Boers for control of the region erupted. Meredith's narrative is heavily researched yet comes alive with colorful portrayals of personalities ranging from rakish prospector Cecil Rhodes (founder of the DeBeers company) who absconded with a fortune manipulating diamond and gold markets, to nationalists like Paul Kruger who fought tirelessly for their land and people, to native kings like Lobengula who were trapped amid the Europeans' struggle. A gripping chronicle of greed and destruction unleashed, and the repercussions for the nation of South Africa for the century to come, highly recommended for world history shelves.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. Sidique on February 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Martin Meredith's aptly named book recounts the events leading up to the formation of the Union of South Africa. The introduction provides a quick background about the coming of the Dutch and then the British to the Cape, the Great Trek, the formation of the Boer Republics, and the colonization of Natal. The story begins in earnest with the discovery of diamonds north of the Cape. It continues with tales of fortunes made and lost, of the coming of the mining magnates and the rise of Cecil Rhodes, of the subsequent discovery of gold in the Transvaal. We learn about the wars against the Zulus, the Tswana, the Basotho, the Ndebele, the taking of their land, the formation of the British South Africa Company, and the making of Rhodesia. We find out about Rhodes' thirst for power and the hubris that led to the Jameson Raid. Then came the scheming and deception that led to the Anglo-Boer War--a war that wrought terrible suffering, particularly upon the Boers. The British won the war only to give self-government to the Boer territories five years later. This was shortly followed by the formation of the Union of South Africa, essentially a union of the whites of South Africa. The `native' policies stipulated by this union would lead to increasingly devastating laws against non-whites, and particularly against blacks. The period covered by the book is filled with interesting events and interesting people. And because Meredith writes beautifully, the book reads almost like a novel.
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