De La Rey: Lion of the West by Johannes Meintjies, 1st Edition [1966]
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De La Rey: Lion of the West by Johannes Meintjies (1966)

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De La Rey: Lion of the West by Johannes Meintjies (1st Edition). Published by Hugh Keartland, 1966. Hardcover. Used. Good condition. Fair DJ. 432 pp.

General De la Rey has variously been described as 'perhaps the only man of original genius to emerge on either side in the Anglo-Boer War', 'one of nature’s gentlemen', 'a remarkably fine fellow', 'the greatest natural soldier to come out of South Africa', 'with a face unequalled for antique patriarchal dignity', 'a warrior saint', 'a lion', 'a king' – these have been the assessments made by some famous names.

Although referred to in hundreds of books, this is the first biography of the great Boer General. Perhaps the subject was too vast, the material too scattered, the story of his life too close to men who were still living, and too strange and fantastic in its later phases to be satisfactorily dealt with. Johannes Meintjies, drawing on a vast mass of unpublished material, has tackled the whole De la Rey story from the pioneering days of his childhood in the Free State and the Transvaal , through the First War of Independence, and on to the Boer War. Meintjes takes us on a journey to the great battles of Modderrivier and Magersfontein, the campaign in the Western Transvaal up to Tweebosch and the Treaty of Vereeniging, the Convention at Durban and the First World War, ending with the tremendous climax of 15 September 1914, when De la Rey was shot dead on the eve of the Rebellion.

In this biography we are brought close to a man of power and passion, of warmth and humour, through whose life strange forces moved – such as the 'Prophet' Van Rensburg who passed, like a godly messenger in an ancient Greek tragedy, through the later phases of De la Rey’s life. Patriotism and humour, aggression, guilt and mystery feature in the story of the magnificent De la Rey, striding the South African landscape in a lonely dignity towards his ultimate destiny.

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