The Great Boer War
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
784pp; size 242 X 168mm
16pp b/w photographs
Trade paperback; ISBN 1-919854-13-4.
Bar code 978191854137
Non fiction

This major work by a noted writer like Arthur Conan Doyle has long been recognised as one of the most important books written on the Anglo Boer War. While working as a surgeon with British forces he spent much of his free time questioning British and Boer wounded in the field hospitals gaining first hand account of the battles they had fought in. In addition he spoke to soldiers ranking from generals to cavalry troopers.

With a meticulous eye for detail he produced this stunningly balanced account that shows the viewpoints of both protagonists.

First published in October 1900 the book went to 19 impressions/editions between then and October 1903, all of which contained corrections. The 19th edition – some 300 pages longer than the first edition – is recognised as the final complete edition. It is from this final 19th edition that this first Galago edition has been reproduced as a facsimile reprint.



Media reviews:

As far as the subject matter is concerned, Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for his Sherlock Holmes stories, gives a rousing, altogether unabashedly jingoistic recounting of the war between the British Empire and the Boer Republics . Conan Doyle writes very much as a man of his time and place; and was also a part of the events he describes, having volunteered for service as a doctor with the army in 1900. Still, at times it can be quite irritating to the modern reader to have to wade through paragraphs of patriotic chest-thumping to get to the actual meat of the information. However, when he gets over his nationalist sentiments, Conan Doyle provides a comprehensive and surprisingly thorough, even fair, account of the events leading up to and spiraling immediately out of the war. Pretty good for a book written almost as soon as the war ended when the hurt feelings were still fresh.

The Great Boer War
is worth a look for both fans of Conan Doyle and those with an interest in this tumultuous period in South African history. Read as a historical document, its sentiments can be questioned but not the information therein.
Galago Books are to be congratulated for reprinting this worthy addition to any collection.

Joshua Reynolds
: African Book Publishing Record

The Great Boer War
, the opening lines of this great work by Conan-Doyle gives one of the most impressive descriptions ever written about the Boers. This work is a worthwhile acquisition even if only to read this description.
Die Burger
Cape Town

This book earned the author a knighthood. It is packed with detail and — unlike many books on the Boer War — is well written. Every generation seems to produce a standard text on that war. Conan Doyle began the canon that includes Rayne Kruger and Thomas Packenham. This is probably the best of the many contemporary accounts but is this collector’s item still ‘good history’? Well, the answer to that question must be elementary, my dear reader!

Farmers Weekly

The Sherlock Holmes stories have never been out of print and now here comes a new edition of The Great Boer War. It seems only fair to let Doyle have the last word on the Boer: ‘Our history has largely consisted in our conflicts with France but Napoleon and all his veterans have never treated us so roughly as these hard-bitten farmers with their ancient theology and their inconveniently modern rifles.’

Witness — Natal

Given that Conan Doyle’s work is really a Victorian product, it’s remarkable un-jingoistic in style and content. His analysis of the causes of the war is accurate and he provides fascinating details of, for instance, events leading up to and at Spioenkop that are usually overlooked in other works that paint the scene on a broader historical canvas. The Great Boer War is essential reading for anybody interested in what happened in South Africa at the end of the Victoria era.

Mercury — Natal

The addition of a photographic section adds tremendous value to this book. This book together with Christiaan de Wet’s Three Years War (republished by the same publisher) are the best-written and most useful books on the conflict and are designed for the serious student as well as anyone with a passing interest in the war.

Beeld — Johannesburg

As to be expected of a surgeon, this book has been meticulously researched and provides an unbiased view of both protagonists of the conflict. Conan Doyle was such a stickler for detail that 19 revised editions of the original have appeared. This edition, the 19th and published in 1903, is 300 pages longer than the first and is recognised as the final complete edition. At 769 pages, Conan Doyle's studyhas long been recognised as one of the most important books written on the Boer War.
Herald Port Elizabeth


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