There have been two phases of writing on Australians and the Boer War. The first, which ran its course by 1912, saw a spate of memoirs of active service, some personal apologias, at least one account of an Australian suburb's contribution to the war, and an 'official record' of the service of Australian contingents. P L Murray's Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa (Government Printer, Melbourne, 1911) was unique in its use of official military sources, notably nominal rolls and officers' reports. The result was not an Australian official history despite earlier plans that one be written, but a 600-page condensation of readily available official sources. The value of the book today is in what it has preserved, especially where the original documents which Murray used have been lost or destroyed. The book's limitations, though, are severe. The nominal rolls give no more than name, rank and whether killed, wounded, died, injured or fallen sick. The extracts from officers' reports almost never include passages referring to routine patrol work, health, discipline or morale. Nothing useful is offered about British units and forces with which Australian units served, and there are no notes indicating the source of any material used in the book.
The second phase of writing on the subject, which included academic and non-academic strands, began in the 1960s. The academic strand at first was largely interested in whether Australians had been manipulated into war by the imperial government. This question informed the first chapters of L M Field's The Forgotten War: Australian Involvement in the South African Conflict of 1899–1902 (Melbourne University Press, 1979), which sought to treat events and attitudes in Australia during the war as well as the experience of active service. Field's book was the first, and to date the only, book-length academic synthesis of the subject. Field displayed great interest in the commitment and service of the first four waves of contingents, but regrettably squeezed the story of the other two waves into just one chapter. The non-academic strand had been most famously concerned with Breaker Morant, the subject of several books from F M Cutlack's Breaker Morant (Ure Smith, Sydney, 1962) to Kit Denton's Closed File (Rigby, Adelaide, 1983). The most productive non-academic writer on Australia and the war, R L Wallace, has published two books: The Australians at the Boer War (Australian War Memorial and Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1976), based largely on soldiers' letters, and The Circumstances Surrounding the Siege of Elands River Post (privately published, Sydney, 1992). Wallace consulted private records in South Africa for the first book and some War Office records in London for the case study, and has treated the experience of Australians in non-Australian units as well as those in the better-known Australian ones. In these respects he has shown more imagination and initiative than academic writers.
Below is a list of further useful writing: