The concentration camps of the Anglo-Boer War caused thousands of deaths and much suffering. But should the women and children in the camps only be seen as victims, or is there another story to be told? The War at Home tries to do just that. Firstly, it explores the unique strength of Boer women, who were often more vehemently anti-British than the men, and their role in supporting the Boer guerrilla fighters. There is also a chapter on the extraordinary Nonnie de la Rey (wife of General Koos de la Rey) who lived in the veld with her six children for nearly two years to avoid capture. A chapter on everyday life in the camps again points out how some camps were run more effectively than others and how for many women the biggest challenge was keeping boredom at bay. In an effort to stay busy, many young Boer women for instance received valuable training as nurse's assistants. Another chapter on the clash of cultures between British doctors and Boer women explains why camp doctors started to blame the personal hygiene and mothering abilities of Boer women when they could not find ways to cure the dying children.
The book also takes the suffering of black civilians in the black camps into account with a special focus on black children. As in the white camps, the majority of the 20 000 deaths in the black camps were children. Lastly, in the year in which the Women's Monument in Bloemfontein celebrates its centenary, The War at Home looks critically at the meaning of the monument then and now.
Publisher: Tafelberg Publishers Ltd