Good-Bye Dolly Gray

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Pickle Partners Publishing, Jun 28, 2017 - History - 500 pages
It was natural for the South African-born writer Rayne Kruger to choose the Boer War for a work of non-fiction. Settled in England, he returned to Johannesburg to interview survivors and consult written records, and Goodbye Dolly Gray, first published in 1959, went on to become the first modern one-volume distillation of existing knowledge on the South African War, concentrating on the campaigning while being mindful of the political consequences for all concerned.

Rayne Kruger brilliantly describes the background, the arms and armies, the campaigns and personalities of the war in which soldiers from across the British Empire marched to a succession of brave defeats at hands of sharpshooting farmers. Goodbye Dolly Gray places the glory and the savagery of the South African war into the perspective of modern Africa.

“His organization of his vast material is masterly”—TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

“At a time when South Africa and its racial crisis make daily news, this highly readable, lively history recreates the long, grim years of the Boer War [...] Th[is] book tells it all. Paul Kruger, Cecil Rhodes, Joseph Chamberlin, Winston Churchill, the Kaiser, General Kitchener, and many others appear as central or fascinating peripheral figures in the telling. And the great battles of Natal and Ladysmith come alive again with exciting, dust-boiling, brutal verisimilitude. Nor are the political forces behind these years of chaotic fighting neglected. The result is an entertaining, instructive historical work of the first order.”—KIRKUS REVIEW

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About the author (2017)

Charles Rayne Kruger (January 29, 1922 - December 21, 2002) was a South-African writer, born in Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape, to an unmarried 17-year-old daughter of a British officer who had served in the Boer War, Rayne’s father had disappeared and his mother married Victor Kruger, a Johannesburg estate agent.

Kruger attended Jeppe High School and Witwatersrand University. He became an articled clerk in a Johannesburg law firm and during WWII, unsuitable for joining the Army, worked as a steward on a merchant ship, which became the basis for his first novel, Tanker (1952).

After war end, he returned to qualify as a lawyer, and in his spare time joined a theatrical company led by the West End actress Nan Munro. Following Kruger’s marriage to Munro in England, he became a newsreader with the BBC World Service.

His play The Green Box, about a woman who disguised her sex to serve as a doctor in the Boer War, was briefly performed at the Chepstow Theatre in London, and it was then Kruger began to start writing in earnest: his first novel, Tanker, was followed by The Spectacle (1953), a gripping crime story; Young Villain With Wings, an account of forger poet Thomas Chatterton; My Name Is Celia, a romance set in post-war Berlin; and the thrillers An Even Keel and Ferguson. All were noted for their realistic use of material and skilful plotting.

His non-fiction work on the Boer War, Goodbye Dolly Gray (1959), would go on to become a bestseller and cement his reputation as a noted author.

Kruger was in the process of writing a one-volume history of China, All Under Heaven, when he died on December 21, 2002 at the age of 80.

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