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Fuelling the empire

South Africa's gold and the road to war


"When payable gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand in 1886, it at first appeared to be an event of good fortune, not just for the many individuals who worked in the gold fields, but also for an area that had few resources and an ailing economy. Almost immediately, resourceful diggers from around the world started arriving in Africa, many of them veterans from Australian and American gold rushes. It was a bonanza for the struggling Boer State, but not many individuals made any real profit from these vast gold fields. It proved to be a playground for big capital with the mining magnates, dubbed 'Randlords' by a critical London press, manipulating the international financial markets. Perversely this apparent good fortune was to be one of the critical factors in the descent to a war that was to devastate the country and lead to massive loss of life, much through disease racing through ill-run concentration camps." "In Fuelling the Empire John J. Stephens explains how this tragedy came to happen and how it shaped the future of South Africa for many years to come."--Jacket.