November 2015 - I have finally finished this book, 12 months after I bought it and a long rest. As I remarked the tone is forthright, rather like being assailed by the friendly drunk in the pub. Suitably restored I dived back in and on completing the book I would recommend it to everyone interested in the war.
You may not agree with Ash's conclusions and will questions some of his facts, but as a piece of critical writing this is a good example. Not enough medal collectors and researchers seem to display any critical faculties. Too much information whether from a book (contemporary or modern) or the internet is received without question. My research to build The Gazetteer has shown all sources to have errors and many to be superficial in facts and conclusions; all can be improved. Ash demonstrates, rightly or wrongly, what the other side of the coin looks like and what lies beneath when you scratch the surface.
Read this, be sceptical, be critical, research harder, learn more.
My current read which I bought on my trip to the International History Conference: From the Anglo-Boer War to the Great War at Talana Museum last October.
Written by Chris Ash (527 pages, 30O South Publishers, South Africa 2014) this book with its natty alliterative title aims to challenges the reader's understanding of the causes, conduct and subsequent interpretation of the war - the Second Anglo-Boer War that is. In the very first footnote Ash rubbishes the need to assign proper titles to events because "Boer War" is "the established name". Established it may be, but it is inaccurate and misleading - the Boers fought many wars - as Ash is keen to point out later, so which "Boer War" do we refer to; if you ask a Swazi, a Zulu, a Sotho, a Tswana and an Englishman you may get five different answers, all of them correct. A Boer of course will respond "Watter eeen - Eerste Vryheidsoorlog of Tweede Vryheidsoorlog?"
Page one and Ash has succeeded in making me shout at what I am reading. However, his argument that Kruger's Transvaal Republic was keen on expansion (thru "Boer wars", eh?), reactionary and Kruger himself misread the political situation does have merit. The fact the Boers delivered the ultimatum and then invaded British territory, with a well armed force are inescapable facts.
On the war itself Ash points out the failures in Boer military planning and execution - personality clashes and naivety hampered their efforts.
I've yet to finish reading this book, but so far Ash's arguments are interesting although his forthright style turns the tone of the book into a rant. One can't fault his enthusiasm for his own argument.