A bullet in the back is a novel based on the 1914 Boer Rebellion, also known as the Maritz Rebellion.
The book centres around the defeat of the “Houdini of the Veld” (General Christiaan de Wet) and the hunt for him by General Louis Botha’s forces. He was eventually taken prisoner by Colonel Brits on 1 December 2015, sentenced to six years imprisonment and a fine of £2000.
To make sense of the book one must have an inkling (described in the book) of the feelings of the Boers after 1902 when they were defeated by what they (and many of their descendants) believed to be the dishonourable scorched earth policy of Lord Kitchener burning every Boer farm and incarcerating every Boer woman and child in inhumane Concentration Camps where they died like flies. Many Boers hated the English and the regime that followed under Smuts and Botha. Others had made their peace and were going on with their lives.
The book opens with a policeman shooting at what he believes to be the infamous Foster Gang, but which turned out to be General Koos de la Rey in 1914, just after war had broken out between Britain and Germany. Many Boers sympathised with the German cause, but South Africa officially supported the British Commonwealth cause and fought for the British. A people divided.
The major events of the book are historical fact, and the main characters are historically accurate, but this historical novel is written with such easy style that it makes for quick and entertaining education.
Told from the point of view of two characters on opposing sides, HD Saker, a Johannesburg based motor vehicle salesman and garage owner, and Harm Oost, De Wet’s assistant. It outlines the early use of motorised warfare, even before this was adopted in Europe.
A Bullet in the Back is beautifully written and superbly researched with very plausible characters and it makes an excellent tale of what would otherwise be a dry historical account of a relatively minor facet of South African history.
- Title: A Bullet in the Back
- Sub-title: The 1914 Afrikaner Rebellion
- Author: Nigel Fox
- Publisher: Porcupine Press
- Date: 2014
- Paperback: 238 pages
- ISBN-10: 1920609776