Book Review: Silence of the Guns: The History of the Long Toms of the Anglo-Boer War


by Louis Changuion

Pretoria: Protea Boekhuis/Dulles, Va.: International Publishers Marketing, 2012. Pp. iv, 188. Illus., maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $39.00. ISBN: 1919825509

In Britain and the U.S., accounts of the Anglo-Boer Wars are largely written from the “Anglo” side, but in South Africa, there is a plentiful literature from the “Boer” perspective.

Silence of the Guns, by retired history professor historian Changuion, who has written extensively on the Anglo-Boer War, gives us one of the better examples of South Africa literature on the subject. While focused on the “adventures” of the four 155mm “Long Toms” of the South African Artillery, Changuion actually gives a fairly good overview of the 1899–1902 war from the Boer perspective.  This includes military policy and organization, which in both Boer republics involved a very small professional artillery corps supplemented by a mass militia. Changuion covers planning and logistics, and, of course, operations, from the initial Boer offensives and sieges at Mafeking, Ladysmith, and other places, to their stunning victories over the British during “Black Week”, which were followed by a massive British counter-offensive, and then a protracted guerrilla campaign.  Along the way Changuion touches upon military improvisations and innovations, the impact of the war on civilians (mostly whites, blacks generally being overlooked in most accounts of the war), battlefield archaeology, and much else. 

Profously illustrated and very well mapped, Silence of the Guns will be useful reading for those interested in late nineteenth century military innovation, colonial warfare, and the South African War.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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