A History of South Africa

 
9780002555616: A History of South Africa

An accessible, lively and authoritative one-volume history of one of the world’s most troubled, controversial and important nations by the author of the widely acclaimed A History of Hong Kong.

Despite the optimism and euphoria which greeted the election as President of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s history, racial mix and rapid recent political changes suggest it will not easily free itself from the legacy of its tumultuous past.
South Africa is by far the most powerful country on the African continent. Whatever happens there will have an impact far beyond its borders. Yet prejudice and ignorance on the subject of South Africa are widespread. Some incidents, especially those of the nineteenth century, are well known: the Great Trek, the Jameson Raid, the Boer War. But how many people in the outside world are clear about the differences between Bantus, Zulu and Bushmen? Is it widely known that while the forebears of F.W. de Klerk lived in what is now South Africa three hundred years ago, those of Nelson Mandela did not? And what lies behind the development of the apartheid system, and the Boers’ forceful character and powerful sense of destiny?
Frank Welsh’s vividly written and incisive one-volume history will surely, like his A History of Hong Kong, come to be regarded as definitive.

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Review:

From the reviews of Frank Welsh’s A History of Hong Kong:

‘Magnificent, compendious and much-needed’
Jonathan Mirsky, The Times

‘Masterly’
The Economist

‘Richly detailed, informative and entertaining’
Asiaweek

‘Narrative history in the best sense’
Richard Tames, Times Educational Supplement

From the Back Cover:

Throughout its turbulent history, and particularly in the past fifty years, South Africa has frequently been the focus of worldwide attention – usually hostile. Yet prejudice and ignorance about the country are widespread. Some incidents, especially those of the nineteenth century, are well known: the Great Trek, the Jameson Raid, the Boer War. The twentieth century too has provided familiar, or notorious, landmarks: Soweto, Sharpeville, Robben Island. But few in the outside world appreciate how Khoikhoi, Xhosa and Zulu both fought against and co-operated with European colonisers; or how Swazi, Sotho and Tswana contrived to retain their independent identity; or that in the nineteenth century the inhabitants of the Cape Colony, of all races, had votes on equal terms, and how many came to lose them; or that while the forebears of F.W. de Klerk lived in what is now South Africa three hundred years ago, those of Nelson Mandela did not.

The evolution of present day South Africa has taken place under conditions of sometimes extreme pressure. Since long before the arrival of the first European settlers in the seventeenth century, the country has been home to a complex and uneasily co-existing blend of races and cultures, and successive waves of immigrants have added to the already volatile mixture. Change has been rapid, often violent and always bringing with it considerable stress. Despite the optimism and euphoria which greeted the final dismantling of the apartheid system and the election as President of Nelson Mandela in April 1994, South Africa’s history, racial mix and recent political upheavals suggest it will not easily free itself from the legacy of its tumultuous past.

Frank Welsh’s vividly written, even-handed and authoritative one-volume history of South Africa casts new light on many of the nations most cherished myths. Like his 'A History of Hong Kong', it will surely come to be regarded as definitive.

ACCLAIM FOR FRANK WELSH’S 'A HISTORY OF HONG KONG':

“Magnificent, compendious and much-needed”
JONATHAN MIRSKY, 'The Times'

“Masterly”
THE ECONOMIST

“As a scholarly, perceptive and entertaining guide… Welsh has no peer.”
JONATHAN DIMBLEBY, 'The Last Governor'

“Not long from now, archaeologists traversing China’s Pearl River delta will stumble on to the ruins of what was once one of man’s most glorious civilisations. ‘How could this have been allowed to happen?’ one will certainly ask. Frank Welsh’s 'History of Hong Kong' is the complete answer to that question in our time.”
FRED C. SHAPIRO, 'New Yorker'

“There is no account of the colony as comprehensive, detailed and up-to-date as this… The best survey I have read of the gradual transformation of British rule as its inevitable end came into sight.”
MICHAEL FRY, 'Scotland on Sunday'

“Narrative History in the best sense… a book from which I have learned a great deal.”
RICHARD TAMES, 'Times Educational Supplement'

“Impressive clarity and a sharp sense of ironic humour… Welsh’s book is not merely a history of Hong Kong; it is a vast tapestry that traces the trajectory of the Western Colonial adventure in Asia.”
JONATHAN KIRSCH, 'Los Angeles Times'

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