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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


FOURIE, Deon  and  WHITTLE, Marius. Where fact and memory meet: The amateur historian's contribution to military history. Historia [online]. 2013, vol.58, n.1, pp.143-166. ISSN 2309-8392.

Military history has an enthusiastic following that might astonish historians in other fields. Amateur military historians and readers often have experienced military life and became emotionally bound to it in a way unknown to readers of other history. The amateur military historians' facile writing enables readers - civilians and soldiers - to participate vicariously in warfare. The amateurs imagine there is only one true unqualified history, seldom check evidence thoroughly or consider alternative views. They forget that memories fade, the battlefield is confused, that the soldiers sees only a fragment of the fighting and that history cannot be tailored for the sake of friendship. Professional military history writing was always neglected in South Africa. Few regular officers wrote about their wars. Amateur writers have predominated in the field, journalists being the major contributors. However, a recent generation spent in military service has been producing numerous books, several by other ranks. Their contemporaries, the veterans of MK and APLA are writing about their military experiences. Digital publishing has dramatically affected the production of South African amateur military history.

Keywords : Amateur historian; battlefield archaeology; Border War; professional historian; military history.

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