Book Review – A Military History Of Modern South Africa

A Military History Of Modern South Africa by Ian van der Waag (Jonathan Ball) ISBN: 9781868424184

A passing glance at the history section of the local book store will testify to the sustained interest in historical military conflicts. Whilst many books tend to focus on a specific period, there is often little by way of general overview, certainly in relation to South Africa. That is, until now. 

A Military History of Modern South Africa begins with the Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the 20th Century. The book provides a broad context to the time period, and then continues through the formation of the Union and South Africa’s involvement in both World Wars. Touching also on quieter periods between conflicts, he builds toward the regional struggle in Southern Africa, which he terms ‘the Hot War’. The book then concludes with the formation of the South African National Defence Force post-2000 and the new role for the armed forces in Southern Africa.

As an associate professor and head of the Department of Military History at Stellenbosch University, van Waag is certainly well qualified to fill the needed gap with this single volume. Those interested in this topic will enjoy an engaging overview, but perhaps almost textbook approach to South Africa’s colourful military past. 

Wayne Bouwer

Posted on: 14th April 2016