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BOOK REVIEWS relative failure perhaps thus more marked. Nonetheless, it raises provoking questions, and its theoretical and critical buffet provides much material for rumination and eventual critical response. Philip Holden National University of Singapore Consent for the Boer War Paula M. Krebs. Gender, Race, and the Writing of Empire: Public Discourse and the Boer War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. xii + 205 pp. $59.95 IF YOU ASK educated Americans about the Boer War, some could tell you that it happened in South Africa, others might be able to identify the time period as Victorian and the combatants as the Afrikaners and the British, and a few might refer you to the Australian movie Breaker Morant for further information. However, as Paula Krebs demonstrates in her intriguing analysis of this "forgotten war," it was in many ways a pivotal military and cultural event which we would do well to reexamine . It was the first of the "sensation-mongers" wars, the first war to blur the lines between combatants and noncombatants with the use of concentration camps for Boer women and children, the first in which women's voices were prominent in war reporting and in debate about military policy, and it was the first time that a "manufactured consent "—as Noam Chomsky would later call the phenomenon—was necessary to support a military excursion required by the British imperialist project. Krebs asserts that this war, "which lost its place in public memory in Britain after the more sweeping tragedy of the Great War ... helped remake the public image of war itself." Perhaps it could be said that every major war waged in the twentieth century forced us to redefine war itself , each one making it harder to see anything noble or heroic in the business, but through Krebs's analysis this particular war, which straddled the nineteenth and twentieth centuries just as we currently straddle the twentieth and twenty-first, seems eerily contemporary. For example, Krebs asserts that "[t]he events that led to the 'spontaneous' riots of Mafeking Night show that the celebrations in fact say less about British support for imperialism than they do about the power of the press to tease the British public into a frenzy of anticipation and then to release that tension in a rush of carefully-directed enthusiasm." This 385 ELT 44 : 3 2001 could also, perhaps, be said of the American public's response to the Persian Gulf War. Another important point Krebs develops is that in discussing a nation 's response to a war, one must speak not of "the public" but of diverse "publics" with opposing opinions. The early chapters of the study identify several of these publics and describe the various newspapers that catered to them, explaining how the New Imperialism, the New Journalism , and the New Publics were related. This relationship is explored in relation to the concentration camps that were set up as the war dragged on—ostensibly to protect displaced Boer women and children but really to prevent the Boer women from participating in the war by feeding Boer guerrilla fighters and spying on the British. The camps, which were deemed necessary to hold the refugees of farms burnt by the British army, became controversial after a report by Emily Hobhouse exposed their disturbing mortality rates. At this, the façade of a unified public support of the war broke apart, changing from "a hegemonic concept intrinsic to British self-definition to a political controversy on which it was possible to hold opposing views." Krebs also explains how the controversy over the camps reflected "new anxieties and uncertainties about men's role in relation to women.... and the position of Africans in relation to Europeans." Part of the controversy arose over differing perceptions of the Boer women: the pro-war side wanted to present them as refugees sheltered from marauding blacks (all of them considered potential rapists), while the antiwar faction who admitted that the women were held to prevent their participation in the war felt that if the women were such unnatural creatures as their military activity implied, they did not deserve chivalric treatment. However, both factions were concerned about the unhealthy conditions in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 385-388
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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