Now that I've got that out of the way I'll tell you about the latest book that I've read. It's called The Breaker and is about Harry Harbord "Breaker" Morant. A talented poet, horseman, womaniser and military man. He seemed to have led a just life but doing things mainly for himself and not for others. He ran away from his problems in Britain, the reason why was never given, and made a life for himself in Australia as a cattle/sheep drover, horse breaker, jockey, fighter, drinker and poet. One could almost say that he was quintessentially Australian.
The book started off in a very difficult manner to read. Maybe that had something to do with me having watched the movie when I was a younger but I thought that the author was trying too hard. Later in the book the writing style suited the story perfectly. It outlines his life and the important characters that he spent his life with in Australia. He had crossed over from a privileged life in Britain to one of hard, honest work in Australia. And then he made the transitition back again effortlessly. One could almost feel proud of the way he crossed the social divide.
When the time came to fight for the mother country against the Boers he did so eagerly. And he did his job well. So well that he was promoted and it appears that he was an accomplished leader of men. From what I read I understand that he was made to be to be a scapegoat for the British military following the murder of a German missionary, to appease the Kaiser, who, incidentally, had been supplying the Boers!
The Breaker is a great read. But I'm starting to consider that it has been written in just such a way. A great read. There's no way that all of the material written about Morant's life could have been documented so well. The story is too well written to be based entirely on fact and appears to be a brilliant piece of fiction.
Having just read Wikipedia's article on Breaker Morant I feel that too much has been made up. Of the three charges the book mentions that he was found not guilty on two counts and guilty on the third. Wikipedia has the findings opposite to the book. The name of the German missionary, Hesse in the book, and Heese online, is interesting that such a difference should exist. Morant, and Peter Handcock, were shot by firing squad for the crime/s that they had been found guilty of. Much to the chagrin of Australians. And the details of the court martial have remained shrouded in secrecy since.
Whatever the truth, it is completely understandable that no Australian (Morant was a British soldier at the time) has been tried by a foreign power since. And quite rightly so.
|The Breaker by Kit Denton|
P.S. - Some news on the case possibly being reopened - it won't be.