[Review] Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw (2003) The lion and the springbok: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War

Lester, Alan (2005) [Review] Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw (2003) The lion and the springbok: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War. Journal of Modern History, 77 (4). pp. 1092-1094. ISSN 0022-2801

Full text not available from this repository.


Although most of its chapters have previously been published, The Lion and the Springbok contains much that is useful, and also much that is controversial, for scholars and students interested in governmental relations between Britain and South Africa over the past hundred years. The book’s most prominent theme—one that links the two authors’ otherwise quite distinctive approaches and styles—is a broadly sympathetic interpretation of British government policy toward South Africa through much of the twentieth century. Some could go further and describe the book largely as an apologia for this policy. For instance, the book’s introduction concludes that the British government’s strategy of not antagonizing the National Party government “to no good purpose or real effect” during the apartheid years was “sound advice, and the return of the new South Africa to the Commonwealth in 1994 … surely vindicates the essential rightness of this British strategy” (36). The authors are critical of the British jingoism surrounding the South African War, which is the starting point for their narrative, but criticism thereafter is reserved almost exclusively for the Afrikaner nationalists who first challenged the “loyal Afrikaner” Jan Smuts and then came to assume power in their own right. Much of what follows is an account of British officials’ uneasy balancing act during the cold war, as they sought to retain South Africa as an important strategic and economic ally within the commonwealth while remonstrating against the extremes of apartheid. There is a particular emphasis on British politicians’ and civil servants’ paternalistic defense of Africans in the High Commission Territories against the apparently insistent northward expansion of “Afrikanerdom” and apartheid.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa > DT1701 South Africa
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General) > G0001 Geography (General)
Depositing User: Alan Lester
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:15
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2012 09:19
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/11348
📧 Request an update