Four-War Boer: The Century and Life of Pieter Arnoldus Krueler.

Author:Zeybel, Henry
Position:Book review

Four-War Boer: The Century and Life of Pieter Arnoldus Krueler. By Colin D. Heaton and Anne-Marie Lewis. Havertown, Penn.: Casemate, 2014. Photographs. Appendix. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 274. $32.95 ISBN: 978-1-61200-175-3

In Four-War Boer, Heaton and Lewis strive to attain the highest level of historical truth with their approach to the biography of Pieter Amoldus Krueler. They spent six years in researching four twentieth-century wars and validated their findings through extensive interviews with Krueler who played significant roles in all of the wars. Although the book focuses on one man's experience mostly in Africa, its account of activities with international implications could stand alone as a history lesson.

The book makes it easy to see Krueler as a model for the ultimate warrior. He first engaged in combat at the age of fourteen, fighting the British in the Second Boer War. Initially, he was a messenger on horseback but became a rifleman during the Boer victory at Spion Kop. For the following two years, Boer commander Louis Botha recognized Krueler's courage and gave him ever-increasing responsibility and authority.

During the war, the British killed Krueler's father, older brother, and uncle; and they put his mother, sister, and younger brother into a concentration camp, from where they disappeared. After losing his family's land when the out-manned and out-gunned Boers were defeated, Krueler, too, spent time in a British-run concentration camp. On release, he received second-class citizen status. The British confiscated the South African gold and diamond mines, which was one of their war aims.

Krueler resumed his combat role in World War I. Rather than join the British, as many former-Boer soldiers such as Botha did, Krueler's bitterness toward the British made him choose to fight for the Germans. For three years, he led far-ranging commando raids against the British, mainly fighting small engagements and destroying convoys, trains, and railways. Krueler originated tactics that eventually became basic insurgent practices.

Occasionally, the book resembles a training manual. For example, when clarifying a point during an interview, Krueler explains how he and his men survived while operating self-sufficiently behind...

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