Books: The Hearts of Darkness

THE BOER WAR by Thomas Pakenham; Random House; 718 pages; $20

The Boer War was the British Empire's Viet Nam. Before it began in 1899, London had been asked for a mere 10,000 new troops to contain the Boer threat. Before it ended 32 months later, it had involved 450,000 imperial and colonial troops, of whom 22,000 lay dead on African soil. At least 25,000 Boers perished. And in this misnamed "white man's war," more than 12,000 blacks died on both sides. Its consequences still fuel hate in the Third World and guilt in the...

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