Title: A Military History of Modern South Africa
Author: Ian van der Waag
Genre: Military History
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers
Cape Town, South Africa 2015
ISBN 9781868424184 / ISBN 978-1-86842-418-4
Softcover, 16 x 23 cm, 408 pages, numerous b/w photos and imgages
Twentieth-century South Africa saw continuous, often rapid and fundamental socio-economic and political change. The century started with a brief but total war. Less than ten years later, a triumphant Britain, with beneficence not unmixed with self-interest, brought the conquered Boer republics and the Cape and Natal colonies together into the Union of South Africa. The Union Defence Force (UDF), from 1957 the South African Defence Force (SADF), was deployed during most of the major wars of the century as well as a number of internal and regional struggles: the two world wars, Korea, uprising and rebellion on the part of Afrikaner and black nationalists, and industrial unrest chiefly on the Witwatersrand. The century ended as it started, with another war. But this was a limited war, a flashpoint of the Cold War, which embraced more than just the subcontinent and lasted a long, thirty years. The outcome of this regional conflict included the final withdrawal of foreign troops from southern Africa, the withdrawal of South African forces from Angola and Namibia, and the transfer of political power in South Africa away from a white elite to a broad-based democracy. This period of about one hundred years is packed full of episode and personality. History, as we are so often vividly reminded, is a complex business and happens on a broad front. Writing, on the other hand, is a linear development and no historian can possibly get the whole of his history between the covers of a single book. 'Every history', Georg Iggers reminds us, 'can only present a partial reconstruction of the past.' However, while this book addresses the various wars and campaigns in which South Africa was involved, the narrative is more ranging than the utilitarian and antiquarian approaches of more traditional accounts. This book is not an encyclopaedia of South Africa's battles and military events, this has been attempted by others, or, at the other end of the spectrum, of how South Africa's wars have been commemorated and memorialised.