The Defenders of the Myth are back!

My newly released Boer War Atlas has been very well-received so far, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before a few Defenders of the Myth crawled out of the woodwork to fight the good fight, frantically trying to maintain their cosy comfort blanket of fiction.

Apparently a ‘review’ (ahem) of the book popped up on Facebook, which essentially sought to rubbish it:

Hard to understand what this fellow is taking exception to… is he really trying to pretend that the Transvaal was a long-established nation, with healthy traditions of stability, democracy and the rule of Law? If so, he is sorely mistaken. And if he is trying to pretend that the Transvaal did not have a penchant for violent expansion, he clearly knows nothing whatsoever about South African history.

Next, he attempts to support the tired, old ‘defensive invasion’ rubbish… simply by saying it must be true because I am ‘non-historian’, apparently. Perhaps he – or one of the professors he so admires – can point out where these mythical defensive positions were? Or why they all, apparently, just happened to be (deep) in British territory? And, while he’s at it, he can perhaps explain why the invading Boers felt the need to annex the land, and loot / rename the towns they took on their way to these undefined / made-up defensive positions? Answers on a postcard…

Such is his outrage at someone daring to challenge the Apartheid-era myths, that he fails to grasp that the quote used on p.94 is exactly that: a quote. ie. not something I wrote.
And as for his claim that the modern perception is that ‘there was considerable commissariat available, but not of a sustainable nature etc’, well that is the definition of dancing on the head of the pin.
But hey – what ever helps him sleep at night, I guess.

Now we are treated to a bit of sycophantic hero-worship of De Wet. Apparently when De Wet runs away, abandoning his men to their fate (see Brandwater Basin, Bothaville and his crackpot invasion of Cape, for examples), that is actually him being an amazing guerrilla fighter.

Reminding me rather of a toddler sticking his fingers in his ears, and screaming “I can’t hear you!”, my favourite of the lot is his claim that ‘All one can say to that is as long as the Boers thought different, Ash’s view don’t count’. What a brilliantly argued point! Hilarious. So as long as members of Al-Qaeda or the IRA don’t consider themselves terrorists, then no one else’s view matters?

Another classic is that (and even by his own admission), though many of the Boers who attacked the 17th Lancers’ camp at Modderfontein were wearing British khaki, this is all perfectly fine in his eyes, as apparently they weren’t doing it to deceive that Lancers… that that’s exactly what happened is presumably just a happy coincidence, so all is OK. Maybe they just thought it looked good and, well – who cares about the rules of war anyway?

And in a final flourish of nonsense, and without actually giving any evidence, he tries to deny that the more hot-headed of De la Rey’s men did indeed want to murder Lord Methuen. As I mention in the book, De la Rey prevented them doing this (but didn’t bother prevent his men murdering the couple of dozen non-white prisoners they took that day).

To be honest, I am delighted to get this sort of ‘review’: if ever I release a book of which the Defenders of the Myth do indeed approve, then I know I’ve gone wrong somewhere.


  • Damian O’Connor Posted December 14, 2020 10:18 pm

    Boy…are those people bitter. Hit a raw nerve, eh?

    • Bulldog Posted December 15, 2020 5:58 am

      One can always rely on the Defenders of the Myth to provide entertainment!

  • AM Posted December 16, 2020 3:52 pm

    I wonder why these types get so agitated by a contrary opinion of a war that ended 120 years ago? I wonder if on some psychological level identifying as a victim of the British Empire helps them deal with some lingering guilt over the oppression of black South Africans that culminated in Apartheid? That might explain the defensiveness.

    • Bulldog Posted December 17, 2020 7:19 am

      Yup. There’s definitely some serious / frantic mental gymnastics going in the muddled brains of such fellows. They positively thrive on playing the poor, innocent, helpless victim, yet at the same time, love to pretend the Boers were an unbeatable race of Titans, who won every battle etc.
      Anything that challenges their myths is to be rejected and denied at all costs: even something like pointing out that De Wet fled, leaving his men to their fate on numerous occasions. Why throw a tantrum over that? It is simple historical fact.
      I especially like his claim ‘we don’t like bullies’… no, sure: I mean Kruger’s regime only denied the vote and basic human rights to all but the Chosen People, practised slavery in all but name, then attacked their neighbours, looting and pillaging their way through Natal… then men of a similar ilk set up Apartheid… but hey ‘we don’t like bullies’!

      • Chris Posted December 18, 2020 9:21 am

        Read this

        “Interfering in Politics: A Biography of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick”

        Prof Andrew Duminy & Prof Bill Guest

        Fitzpatrick also wrote — “The Transvaal from Within”

  • Chris Posted December 18, 2020 9:15 am

    NOW ;
    To be a miserable humbug
    Did Peter Greef purchase his own copy
    Who is the raconteur that borrowed said copy ?
    Lets not be churlish recognition should be granted where justified

    When are you — exposers of the myths — going to step up to the parapet
    Especially Chris and Damian
    These “myths” started long before the ABW !

    I am standing man alone fighting the good fight
    I may manage on my own — you may however wish to — claim some glory for yourselves.

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