Wilbur Smith makes for great history reading

Historical novels can be strange things. Often you will notice an author’s personal biases come through, and it becomes a reader’s prerogative to acknowledge this and read through the stains of human paint. I certainly prefer this kind of history to the textbook kind, but perhaps I am just reading the wrong textbooks.
Wilbur Smith has a style of story-telling steeped with history that reminds me of great fantasy or sci-fi novels; he blends the fiction into the history as they would blend the fantasy with the real, with an ease that makes our experience of that time and period an immersive one that is truly delightful. Also, Smith’s bias is different in that it is on behalf of his characters, whether Smith himself agrees with them or not becomes irrelevant. Furthermore, Smith represents all characters as protagonists with equal gusto, showing both sides of a conflict from a very poignant and personal perspective, such that we can understand a little bit more of the “why” behind certain events.
I’m not going to spoil anything by going into specifics, but I will give anyone interested a couple starting points:
For South Africa, at the turn of the century and through the birth of apartheid, start with “The Power of the Sword“.
For the emergence of Rhodesia and the conflict of the Brits and the Matabele, start with “A Falcon Flies“.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
More later – joel

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Joel

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