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Sacrifice and Modern War LiteratureThe Battle of Waterloo to the War on Terror$
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Alex Houen and Jan-Melissa Schramm

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198806516

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198806516.001.0001

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Character, Sacrifice, and Scapegoats

Character, Sacrifice, and Scapegoats

Boer War Fiction

(p.77) 5 Character, Sacrifice, and Scapegoats
Sacrifice and Modern War Literature

Steve Attridge

Oxford University Press

While Lord Kitchener was lauded at home for his self-sacrificial qualities, in the field he implemented scorched-earth policies and pioneered the use of concentration camps. Writers including Rudyard Kipling exposed the cruel practices on which the British Army depended in the course of the Boer Wars (1899–1902), critiquing the military leadership. A space then opened in fictional narrative for the representation of a new type of protagonist—the rebel, the self-reliant adventurer or irregular who could make personal sacrifices through individual ethical choice rather than as a consequence of military expediency: in response, the regular Army sought to maintain a monopoly on the representation of heroism (occasionally scapegoating irregulars). Arguably, this period sees the high watermark of the popularity of tropes of military sacrifice in the nineteenth century, but also points towards later changes, where large armies face guerrilla bands fighting in their own homelands.

Keywords:   Boer Wars (1899–1902), South Africa, Empire, sacrifice, Rudyard Kipling, Rider Haggard

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