No Rules: Inspired by a true story of love and courage during the Anglo-Boer War

Reports From The Boer War
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I hope to live to see the achievement of that ideal. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die," he shouted. With hindsight, Mandela used the fiery address to take up a negotiating position and convince the black majority that he had not made a secret pact with the authorities.

De Klerk had his moment of truth nine days earlier, in an address to the all-white parliament that coined the phrase "a new South Africa". There were gasps then and, from the far-right party, protests and boos.

Why you should care

De Klerk speaks slowly and clearly — and charmlessly. He is a lawyer from a strict, Calvinist tradition in which displays of emotion are a seen as a sign of weakness. His one quirk seems to be the incessant chewing of gum. He has lived in this modern house in Fresnaye for 18 months, having moved into Cape Town with his second wife, Elita, from his farm in Paarl. He points out that, from his garden, he has a view of Robben Island, where Mandela spent 18 years in prison. It is a fact. He does not reveal whether it leaves him hot or cold. But radical change requires steely nerves.

De Klerk had become president in September , the son of a National party cabinet minister and the nephew of a prime minister. He grew up with Afrikaner fear in his DNA — the dread that after years on the tip of Africa and the struggle against British colonial rule, his Huguenot descendants would be chased into the sea by the black majority.

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That fear contributed to policies that built his nation — forced removals to create racially segregated areas and blacks being deprived of their citizenship. It led to "passbooks", introduced to restrict black people's movements beyond those that were necessary to the economy, and separate beaches, buses, hospitals, schools, universities and lavatories for blacks, whites, mixed-race "coloureds" and Indians.

As he prepared his 2 February speech at his holiday home in Hermanus in the Western Cape, De Klerk claims he had no confidant. I preferred decisions to evolve out of cabinet discussions. That way we achieved real co-ownership of our policies. He says his consultative style was a break with National party culture. But he also claims — in a line of argument that allows him to avoid condemning apartheid outright — that the system unravelled through a gradual process.

Even today, he admits only that international sanctions against South Africa "from time to time kept us on our toes". In prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd's government divided black South Africans into eight ethnic groups and allocated them "homelands" — nations within the nation. The move was a cornerstone of an Afrikaner nationalist dream to create a republic, but it led to international isolation. De Klerk was a vigorous supporter.

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We learn what has happened to their men but to tell would be a spoiler…. The Undesirables is a book that had several profound effects on me — first, the obvious one of learning how the British army behaved just over years ago. It is not a period of which we should be proud.

Second, the quiet dignity and faith of the Boers particularly Moeder and Lettie in the face of such adversity.

The Lost History of Stars

And thirdly I marvel at how Dave Boling, a Chicago native now working as a journalist in Seattle, could have got so far under the skin of both Boers and British in such a far off war and location. I had presumed he was either British, Boer, or Dutch — but then discovered he was not.

He is a very impressive writer. That said, I really look forward to his third book — wherever it may be set. Quality historical fiction makes you seek out more information on the topic at hand, and this book did exactly that for me.

"Scorched Earth" (Anglo-Boer War) documentary (2000, South Africa)

I had only ever heard mention of the term "Boer" and did not truly have an understanding of the word, much less have any knowledge of the war that this book is based on or the history of Dutch and English colonization of South Africa beyond what I read in Trevor Noah's "Born a Crime". This book has a helpful introduction that explains Boling's impetus for writing this boo Quality historical fiction makes you seek out more information on the topic at hand, and this book did exactly that for me. This book has a helpful introduction that explains Boling's impetus for writing this book and a brief history of the war that frames the story for readers like me, but of course after reading Lettie's story, I was and am eager to seek out more factual content.

Boling did an outstanding job of writing from a young teenage girl's point of view, and held nothing back in his description of the horrors of war and the concentration camps and the proclaimed "war against women and children". I was concerned at first about reading from the God-fearing colonists' POV, since we now are quite aware of how they came to claim the land from the people who originally lived there. However, Boling does include a scene in which an English soldier puts Lettie straight about how the English did the exact same thing to the Boers as the Boers did to the Zulus - slashed and burned and killed and took the land for their own.

It's interesting to ponder such an issue, given that writing from Lettie's POV and the colonist's POV IS a valid POV - not necessarily an accurate portrayal of the original events of the colonization, but Lettie and the Boers of her time were not the original colonists. This is the information she had been fed from birth.

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This is the same discussion being had now about portrayal of the colonization of the US and American Indians Can we read Laura Ingalls Wilder and understand that this truly is how western settlers thought? Is it historically accurate describing things as Lettie does in this book because that is how she truly felt and understood her history, right or wrong? Should there have been parts of the story more accurately describing how Bina came to live with their family?

When we read of American slavery, reading from a plantation owner's perspective feels horrible to us, but if that is the way a person in that position felt and acted, is it a valid POV to write from? Should all fiction be written from the POV of the marginalized? All excellent points to ponder after reading this book, and certainly something that I will be following up on in additional reading on the Second Anglo-Boer War from the perspective of South Africans.

Thank you to Algonquin for providing me with a paperback advance reading copy of this book for review - all opinions are my own.

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No Rules: Inspired by a true story of love and courage during the Anglo-Boer War eBook: James V. Byrom: Kindle Store. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. I worked in South Africa as a newspaper journalist and No Rules: Inspired by a true story of love and courage during the Anglo-Boer War - Kindle edition by James V. Byrom. Download it once Referring to the title, it appears there were NO RULES during this war! James has a 'way.

A child's first person perspective is the most unreliable narrator but, it is the kind of subjective narration that reaches the reader's heart and soul with laser beams of joy and sorrow. Lettie is a thirteen year old Dutch Afrikaner who is forced into a concentration camp with her mother and younger brother and sister after the British soldiers burn down their house.

Lettie's older brother, father, and grandfather are soldiers fighting the British. The farms were considered a source of support and supplies for the Dutch Afrikaner soldiers so a solution for the British troops was to burn their houses and kill their livestock.

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Women and children were herded together into a camp for 'support' which turned out to be a place of great suffering and loss. Lettie tells her story of living in a guarded camp without enough food, medicine, or hygienic living conditions. Lettie loves to read and write so we get glimpses into the things she writes in her journal and her impressions of reading about British culture from the book, David Copperfield. Lettie has big dreams for her life and we hope that she will achieve every one of them, especially when it comes to helping other people.

She has seen more than her share of evil at a young age. Unfortunately, these kinds of stories are being played out all over the world still, today.

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View all 3 comments. What a wonderful book this is. Lettie is a figure of abiding grace, and her story is richly drawn and impossible to forget. They depended on the pot, horse and rifle; they were also skilled stalkers and marksmen. R A new novel by Kopano Matlwa, which explores the relationship between a school principal, Mohumagadi, and a disgraced preacher, Father Bill, at an elite school for talented black children. But fiction has the power to disturb and inspire strong emotions, and this book, thoroughly argued and committed, is certainly a case in point.

Refugee camps are very often a misnomer and thus ignored by the world vision. If only lessons were learned from history.

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The Great Trek. This is not based on the great epic of the Boer War in South Africa, where the novel plays out.

A young girl lives her formative years in an internment camp where deprivation and starvation controls their lives where many are unable to survive. Her family will never be the same. But, she learns much about life and death during those awful years.

As a fellow journalist, I admire the research that went into this book and I found the story captivating. This is definitely a story that deserves to be told and the suffering that the Boers endured at the hand of the British in the concentration camps is one of our country's darkest hours. The characters of Lettie, the young protagonist, her brother Schalk, her stauch mother, younger brother Willem and her Oupa were all nuanced and believable.

I liked Maples, the British guard, but the climax l As a fellow journalist, I admire the research that went into this book and I found the story captivating. I liked Maples, the British guard, but the climax leaves you horrified at what the war has transformed him into. Likewise, in that same moment, you have such respect for Oom Sarel, previously branded a coward, who manages to redeem himself.

There were a few things that jarred for me which other South African readers also picked up on - for example, Lettie calling her aunt "Tante" instead of the informal, more commonly-used "Tannie". Also I found the aspects of Bina, Lettie's friend and the family servant, a bit odd, e.

Perhaps it would have been better to simply insert the Sotho word e. Another thing that bothered me was the reference to praying for somebody's soul, which is a Catholic belief, certainly not one practised in the Dutch Reformed Church, whose followers share a Protestant faith similar to Calvinism. The chapters that really stood out for me were the one in which Oupa whisks Lettie outside to gaze at the stars and indulge in a midnight feast of rusks and coffee and the harvesting of the oats which is beautifully described.

I couldn't work out if the Venter farm was in the Transvaal or the Free State, but I thought the milieu was well sketched and sprang to life, especially the description of the smells of the veld and what they meant.

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I found the structure of the book satisfying - how it ends at the beginning and you realise Lettie has crafted a story of her experiences of the war, tying in the night outdoors where she overcame her initial fear of the roaring lions. A great read - very ambitious and elucidating. Jul 10, Kristen rated it it was amazing Shelves: , book-challenge-by-erin , novel. Their African maid, Bina, tries to stay with the family, but is given no choice by the soldiers but to return to her people.

Driven to a concentration camp, Lettie and her family worry about her father, older brother, and grandfather who are out fighting the British with guerrilla tactics. Lettie also worries and wonders about Bina and her family. Often Lettie remembers the songs and wisdom Bina shared during her childhood and the history of stars that Oupa Grandpa shared with her at night under the sparkling sky. According to history, the Second Boer War, in which this story is set, lead to the death of nearly 28, Boers Dutch farm family members and just over 14, black Africans.

Of those nearly 28, Boers, just over 22, were children under 16 who mostly died of malnutrition and disease in the camps. I didn't know anything about the Boer Wars.

But I have read of war and man's inhumanity to man, and the horrors of captured people during war and civil unrest and been moved by it many times.