The Book of War

      James Whyle

The Book of War

The Book of War tells the story of a boy who comes to manhood in a war. An illiterate European child is stranded on the southern tip of Africa. The British and the Xhosa have been spilling each other's blood for eighty years and the young man signs up for the conflict in the hope of steady meals and a few shillings a month. His new commander, The Captain, is hardly more than a boy himself, but he has money and education behind him. His goal is to prove that the revolutionary Minié Rifle is the most effective killing machine available to the British Empire. His instruments are an assortment of convicts, sailors and drunkards culled from the port at the Cape of Good Hope; his adversary, a strategically brilliant Xhosa general with little left to lose. The Captain and the irregulars depart on a journey towards a grotesque dénouement around a copper vat on the slopes of Mount Misery. They move through a landscape prowled by wild beasts, a landscape so savage that the...

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