”When, in the Transvaal in 1880, Britain first tested the individual freedom and skill-at-arms of the hardy Boer farmer, the results, to the mightiest imperial power in the world, were deeply humiliating. The Boer’s ability to use the country to advantage was legendary, as was his marksmanship; to him, an enemy that crossed the veld in scarlet uniforms and white sun-helmets, weighed down with packs, and expecting to fight according to certain fixed rules, was merely an easy target. To the perplexed British, the disasters followed one upon the other – Bronkhorst Spruit, Laing’s Nek, Ingogo and, finally, and worst of all, Majuba Hill, where their commanding general was among the many killed. The First Boer War – the earliest of the nationalist struggles in Africa – was neither large nor a long war, yet it had both immediate and far-reaching effects, and demonstrated that even an empire at the height of its wealth and power could be confounded. Professor Lehmann’s is till the most dramatic and authoritative work on an imperial war that altered the entire course of South African history, and whose effects may still be seen.”
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