Kruger’s Gold – Book Review| South Africa Boers

(description)
Boer War – South Africa – 1902

Canadian Lt. Harry Lanyard, British Army, leads a mounted patrol of hard-bitten Colonial troopers into the veld to recover $10-million worth of gold bullion hidden by President Paul Kruger during the Second Anglo-Boer War.

To do it, Lanyard must battle tough burgher commandos, murderous bandits, hostile civilians, and an enemy spy sworn to kill him, while his own men have turned mutinous. He also strives to regain the love of his Boer-American ex-sweetheart who now is allied with a ruthless Czarist secret agent.

Based on many actual events, KRUGER’S GOLD is meticulously researched in historical details. It reveals the horrors of concentration camps and ruthless guerrilla fighting, while innocent civilians and black Africans suffer during the “last of the gentlemens’ wars”.

Cover illustration, “Saving the guns at Liliefontein”, by Peter Archer, courtesy of the Regimental Trust, Royal Canadian Dragoons.

Krugers Gold

BOOK REVIEW:

“Kruger’s Gold: A novel of the Anglo-Boer War” by Sidney Allinson.

Quite simply a wonderful book

Reviewer: R. Cox, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Sidney Allinson’s books are surprises. They can start off unassumingly and build up to rip snorting sagas of ceaseless adventure. In his finest work yet, Allinson doesn’t even start off slowly. “Kruger’s Gold” grips the reader at once and the pace never slows. As I read this action tale of the struggle a century ago between South Africa’s Boers, and England and her “colonials,” I was repeatedly struck with the idea this would be and should be a wonderful movie. Allinson’s experience as a television producer may have given him that hot-shot cameraman’s “eye” or it could simply be that any good yarn so stirringly told lends itself to theatre in the best sense. Well delineated male and female characters live out their intertwined destinies, amid authentic combat descriptions galore, balanced by gentle interludes, and lyrical descriptions of Southern Africa.

On these pages, a segment of history that was soon obscured by two ensuing, bloodier world wars leaps to life. It is really the twilight of an era, with Europeans jostling for power and position and, in this case in particular, South African gold Allinson fills in the historical perspective while following a Canadian soldier and his colonial troops who, late in the war, have been assigned to find the legendary government cache of gold that departing Prime Minister Paul Kruger was said to have stashed before leaving in 1900 for virtual exile in Europe.

Allinson writes sympathetically of the brilliant Boer commandos fighting to retain their homeland and their way of life. His story is not overly revisionist: the Boers have seized this land from the native tribes, after all, and even the most principled among them want to keep the blacks and “coloureds” in their place, lest their vast numbers overwhelm the white settlers. Even through the more politically-correct prism of today, we must admire the self reliance of these men whose surprise tactics and talented marksmanship enabled them to strike at the enemy, melt away into the bush, and return to attack another day. Many if not most of the men have lost wives and children to the war; yet, while they can be ruthless, they treat surrendered prisoners with a decency and respect that arouses a sense of nostalgia in the reader. Their English counterparts do as well with their own prisoners.

The book reveals unpalatable facts about both sides, including the racism of Boers, and an unblinking description of the British concentration camps where stranded Boer families and prisoners were placed to wait out the war. Allinson paints a grim picture of these horrors where women and children and some men languished in filthy conditions with poor diets and disease and death dogging every step. A few selfless medical workers do their best, but there are no facilities and their supplies are woefully inadequate.

No less than four romances in the book provide a lusty and pleasing counterpoint to military derring-do . Even the horses get to play a heart-warming role. And throughout the book, Allinson has peppered the story with fascinating historical minutiae, such as the Boer heroine not being allowed to play ragtime music, then the rage, because it was produced by black performers.

Read this book. It is a treat. — R. Cox.

About the Author

Sidney Allinson is a Canadian novelist and military historian, author of six books, film scripts, and numerous magazine articles. His military history, “The Bantams: The Untold Story of World War I,” was highly acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic. He wrote “Jeremy Kane” a Canadian historical adventure novel of the 1837 Mackenzie Rebellion and its brutal aftermath in the Australian penal colonies. Sidney Allinson served overseas with the Royal Air Force, was creative director of two international advertising agencies, and communications policy advisor to the Ontario Government. He is a past director of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, and received the Boulter Award for outstanding writing. Born in England, a long-time resident of Toronto, he now lives in Victoria, British Columbia, working on a novel about the 1942 Dieppe Raid. E-mail:   allsid [@] shaw.ca

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Sidney Allinson’s books are surprises. They can start off unassumingly and build up to rip snorting sagas of ceaseless adventure. In his finest work yet, Allinson doesn’t even start off slowly. “Kruger’s Gold” grips the reader at once and the pace never slows. As I read this action tale of the struggle a century ago between South Africa’s Boers, and England and her “colonials,” I was repeatedly struck with the idea this would be and should be a wonderful movie. Allinson’s experience as a television producer may have given him that hot-shot cameraman’s “eye” or it could simply be that any good yarn so stirringly told lends itself to theatre in the best sense. Well delineated male and female characters live out their intertwined destinies, amid authentic combat descriptions galore, balanced by gentle interludes, and lyrical descriptions of Southern Africa.

On these pages, a segment of history that was soon obscured by two ensuing, bloodier world wars leaps to life. It is really the twilight of an era, with Europeans jostling for power and position and, in this case in particular, South African gold Allinson fills in the historical perspective while following a Canadian soldier and his colonial troops who, late in the war, have been assigned to find the legendary government cache of gold that departing Prime Minister Paul Kruger was said to have stashed before leaving in 1900 for virtual exile in Europe.

Allinson writes sympathetically of the brilliant Boer commandos fighting to retain their homeland and their way of life. His story is not overly revisionist: the Boers have seized this land from the native tribes, after all, and even the most principled among them want to keep the blacks and “coloureds” in their place, lest their vast numbers overwhelm the white settlers. Even through the more politically-correct prism of today, we must admire the self reliance of these men whose surprise tactics and talented marksmanship enabled them to strike at the enemy, melt away into the bush, and return to attack another day. Many if not most of the men have lost wives and children to the war; yet, while they can be ruthless, they treat surrendered prisoners with a decency and respect that arouses a sense of nostalgia in the reader. Their English counterparts do as well with their own prisoners.

The book reveals unpalatable facts about both sides, including the racism of Boers, and an unblinking description of the British concentration camps where stranded Boer families and prisoners were placed to wait out the war. Allinson paints a grim picture of these horrors where women and children and some men languished in filthy conditions with poor diets and disease and death dogging every step. A few selfless medical workers do their best, but there are no facilities and their supplies are woefully inadequate.

No less than four romances in the book provide a lusty and pleasing counterpoint to military derring-do . Even the horses get to play a heart-warming role. And throughout the book, Allinson has peppered the story with fascinating historical minutiae, such as the Boer heroine not being allowed to play ragtime music, then the rage, because it was produced by black performers.

Read this book. It is a treat.         — R. Cox.

 

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