A Battlement of Spears: Based on Countless True Stories
A century ago, one of the five most recognizable names in the world was arguably that of Paul Krüger, president of the Transvaal Republic-a small Southern African country inhabited by a white tribe-who took on the overwhelming superiority of the mighty British Empire in defense of his people's sovereign independence. It was a David and Goliath story. As most of the world-including the US-cheered the Boers on, they fought a desperate war to the bitter end (1899-1902) against colonialism, until their country lay smoldering in ruins and an estimated 27, 929 Boer women and children, as well as an untold number of blacks, had died in British concentration camps.
Yet within little more than half a century, those same Afrikaners had squandered their political capital and gone from being the world's favorite underdog to one of the most reviled names in history. Their subsequent social engineering project known as apartheid became an abhorrent concept in the eyes of the international community.
Bernard Botes Krüger is a fifth-generation descendant of the wartime president, Paul Krüger. He is an Afrikaner who lived most of his life in the turmoil and conflict that has dominated his country's history. His new historical novel, A Battlement of Spears, tells the remarkable story of how not only the Afrikaners, but also the many other former sovereign nations within the redrawn borders of the postwar South Africa struggled to come to terms with a common identity, often with devastating consequences. "What cruel twist of tectonic irony caused the deepest scar on the earth's surface across the face of that continent that would also suffer the most appalling of human tragedies?" the author asks.
Set against the backdrop of the timeless mountain called in Zulu uKhahlamba (Barrier of Spears), a dramatic geographic boundary that divided nations throughout history, A Battlement of Spears is an epic story spanning twenty-four years and two continents, of two young men with similar interests but vastly different cultural backgrounds who become unlikely friends. In a tragic series of events they will discover what sacrifices are exacted from those who would dwell in the symbolic no man's land of the summit, where fog often obscures the vision and deprivation dulls the senses, until it becomes all too easy to drift into hostile territory or stumble into the jaws of the precipice. In the process they will become separated, spending a lifetime before finding each other again a world away, on a different continent. But in the course of their respective journeys, they will also learn that barriers are not always what they seem, and that choices are sometimes inevitable, with far-reaching consequences. In that hauntingly beautiful land it is never merely about survival, but about the things that make it truly worthwhile, such as loyalty, friendship and honor, regardless of the price.
Do not go into this story expecting to encounter the usual themes of race. To consider South Africa synonymous with racial hatred would be an oversimplification. This story is not about race. In fact, despite the elaborately drawn details highlighting many of the customs of traditional cultures-Portuguese, Zulus, KhoiSan, Afrikaners, rural and urban, conservative and revolutionary-the story is not even uniquely South African. It is not about apartheid, or about Blacks, or Whites. Rather, it is about the countless 'gray' people of many different cultures, ordinary individuals simply looking to survive, who become trapped in the consummation of historical inevitabilities that are neither of their doing, nor of their choosing.
Written in a style that endeavors to entertain while enlightening the uninformed about South A
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