David Katz,Evert Kleynhans

20 Battles

Favouring manoeuvre over attrition and often punching above their weight, South African soldiers have become known for their tenacity, dash and ability to defy the odds. Their unique directive command style has also helped them to excel in defining battles and operations, from the campaign in German South West Africa in 1915 to the cross-border operations in Angola during the Border War.
In 20 Battles, military historians Evert Kleynhans and David Brock Katz investigate the evolution of South Africa's armed forces over a century from 1913 to 2013. They track the evolution of the doctrine and structure of the defence force, uncovering historical continuity and the lessons learned from past battles and operations.
What is clear is that when South African soldiers have the freedom to operate according to their manoeuvre doctrine, as they had in East Africa in 1916 and southern Ethiopia in 1941, they can achieve stunning results. But when hemmed in by rigid doctrine and a top-down command style, as at Delville Wood in 1916 and Tobruk in 1942, the results can be tragic.
20 Battles combines both battlefield drama and crisp analysis and in the process provides a much-needed perspective on the South African way of war.
463 printed pages
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Original publication
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Jonathan Ball
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