This is Deneys Reitz’s classic account of his experiences during the Anglo-Boer War, and it is widely believed to have sold more copies than all other books on the war combined. Thomas Packenham said of Commando: ‘Reitz had the uncanny knack of living through the war as though leafing through the pages of an adventure story’.
Jan Smuts writes in his introduction: ‘He passed through as varied a record of exciting experiences as have ever fallen to the lot of a young man. Indeed much of what is written in this book with such boyish simplicity may appear to the reader well-nigh incredible. But it is a true story, and the facts are often understated rather than exaggerated.’ Indeed, the brilliance of Deneys Reitz’s storytelling lies exactly in its simplicity, directness and understatement.
The subtitle Of Horses and Men was the author’s first title of his book before it was changed to Commando. It also signifies the inclusion in this edition of two chapters from Trekking On, styled (in Reitz’s own words) The Aftermath of War, which describes the author’s post-war exile in Madagascar and his difficult return to South Africa in a poignant, but nevertheless humorous, account of hardship and struggle.
The following, written in a review of the first edition of Commando in 1929, remains as true today as it was then: ‘It is difficult to speak of this book in anything but a string of superlatives. The spirit of it is magnificent.’