The Border War was one of the more controversial clashes of the 1970s and 1980s, a mix of an independence struggle in Namibia, a civil war in Angola and a proxy war in the Cold War. This study focuses on the South Africa Defence Force's role in the war,
In the introduction the author states that the book won't be balanced, because of the limited amount of trustworthy sources from the Angola, SWAPO or Cuban sides, and suggests that it should be seen as just one part of the story. However for most of the time he does a decent job of trying to reflect both sides of the conflict.
Two areas where a certain amount of bias can be seen creeping in are his tendency to describe most hostile reporting on the activities of the SADF as coming from 'left wing' or 'far left' journalists or academics, or as from sources hostile to the National Party government, as if that automatically discredits their writing, and a tendency to pick out those aspects of the SWAPO or ANC aims that weren't achieved, and present them as their main aims - in particular the desire of SWAPO for a single party state in Namibia. Having said that, the analysis of who, if anyone, actually won the war, comes across as fairly well balanced.
This is largely a military history of the war, focusing on the series of named operations that dominated the SADF's activities in Angola. Each one is analysed in some detail, looking at the objectives, planning and implementation. The eyewitness accounts are overwhelmingly from the South African side, but overall the accounts seem convincing, suggesting that this is a reliable analysis of the South African side of the war. The author is also willing to criticise South African operations and leadership when events didn't go as planned. As a result this is a useful study of the SADF's role in the Border War.
1 - The origins of the Border War
2 - The first years and Operation Savannah
3 - The SADF reinvents itself
4 - A new strategy
5 - Into Angola: Reindeer
6 - The pattern evolves: Sceptic
7 - The SADF shifts gear: Protea and Daisy
8 - No end in sight: Askari
9 - Counterinsurgency in South West Africa
10 - SWAPO: the seeds of failure
11 - Cuba, the USSR and UNITA in Angola
12 - Operation Modular: clash of the titans
13 - The SADF's problematic choices
14 - The road to stalemate: Operation Hooper
15 - Stalematae at Tumpo
16 - Endgame
17 - The air war, 1987-1988
18 - Peace
19 - Who won the Border War?
Author: Leopold Scholtz