Jan Smuts: A Biography

Jan Smuts: A Biography

Jan Smuts: A Biography

Jan Smuts: A Biography

Excerpt

Neither the attacks of slanderers nor the empty praise of sycophants can do irreparable injury to the reputation of Field Marshal the Right Honorable Jan Christiaan Smuts, but both constitute a temporary menace to the good name of the South African Premier.

It is clearly the biographer's duty to be neither swayed by the former group nor influenced by the latter, but objectively to seek the truth and set it down without bias. This I have endeavoured to do; I trust that my efforts have succeeded in furnishing a balanced and comprehensive account and that from this book will emerge the picture of a great and powerful man who is a "human being and not a plaster saint."

To an artist who was about to paint his portrait, Oliver Cromwell said, "Paint me warts and all!" No craftsman, whatever his medium, can do justice to his subject, unless he gives heed to these words. "The biographer," says Mr. Hesketh Pearson, "who overlooks defects is not only dishonest to himself but a detractor of the man he is trying to white-wash; for the greatness of a man can only be measured by the quantity and quality of his defects which help to mould his character and act as a brake on his efforts." I have tried constantly to bear this advice in mind. Nevertheless, wherever I have "debunked," I have striven to do so with fairness and to avoid all traces of partisanship.

Here, then, is an unbiased picture of Smuts--soldier, statesman, scientist, and philosopher (the world's leading holist). Quite recently, General Sir Thomas Blamey described him as "the Empire's greatest asset." That he may be. It is a moot point. But it is not too much to say, in the light of past events, that the future happiness and prosperity of the peoples of this world and a lasting peace among the nations might be affected--to a not inconsiderable extent--by the thoughts that are burgeoning today in the dynamic mind of Jan Smuts, aged seventy-

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