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Surrounded by South Africa lies the small, independent kingdom of Lesotho, and this book explores how the Basotho people came to preserve this autonomy from powerful neighbors in the Gun War of 1880?81. One of several wars in southern Africa at the time, the Gun War was different in one, all-important respect: the whites were humiliatingly defeated, or at least decisively held at bay. Presenting oral traditions and archival sources with meticulous care, this history lays bare the narrower interests and conflicting perspectives among the Basotho chiefs and the local officials as well as the larger forces at work in the region. Compelling and absorbing, this study of the Gun War will interest historians and academics alike.