Chase Your Shadow: The Trials of Oscar Pistorius

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9780062297068: Chase Your Shadow: The Trials of Oscar Pistorius

The definitive account of the rise and fall of South African Olympic and Gold Medal-winning Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius, from his personal and athletic success to the murder charge that rocked the world and put both the man, and post-Apartheid South Africa, on trial.

Oscar Pistorius made history as the first amputee to compete against able-bodied runners at the 2012 London Olympics. A hero in his native South Africa, the “Blade Runner” as he is known for his futuristic prosthetic legs, became a global icon of resilience and determination.

But less than a year later, Pistorius rocked the world once again when he shot his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, through a closed bathroom door in the early hours of February14, 2013. Charged with murder, he claimed self-defense, contending that he had acted in a blind panic, imagining an intruder had broken in. But as the investigation moved to trial—during which the prosecution sought to prove that he killed her in a rage after an argument—a picture emerged of a traumatized individual fascinated with guns and assailed, behind the heroic facade, by anguish and self-doubt.

Acclaimed journalist John Carlin follows the trials of this fallen champion, detailing his fraught upbringing, his almost superhuman rise to athletic glory, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Steenkamp’s death. At the center of Pistorius’s story is South Africa—a young democracy stained by a history of racial disparity and levels of criminal violence that are among the highest in the world.

Thoughtful and probing, Chase Your Shadow offers a piercing look at this intriguing modern tragedy, bringing to life a complex figure and the troubled land that shaped him.

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From the Back Cover:

Oscar Pistorius was eleven months old when he had both legs amputated below the knee, due to congenital fibular disease. Despite this severe disability, Pistorious grew up to be an extraordinary athlete, inspirational role model, and global symbol of resilience. In 2012 he became the first amputee runner in history to compete in the Olympics and was hailed as a hero not only in his native South Africa but around the world.

Everything changed for Pistorius in the early morning hours of February 14, 2013—Valentine's Day—when he shot and killed his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, through a closed bathroom door, allegedly because he mistook her for an intruder intent on doing him harm. He was arrested and charged with premeditated murder, and overnight, the public's view of Pistorius turned on its head.

Not since the O. J. Simpson case has a courtroom drama riveted global attention on one man's fate. Acclaimed journalist John Carlin's vivid firsthand account of Pistorius's seven-month murder trial, broadcast worldwide from Johannesburg, details the wrenching emotional breakdowns and merciless interrogation of the accused on and off the stand, the fraught relationship between the Pistorius and Steenkamp families, and the highly controversial verdict of culpable homicide, for which Pistorius received a five-year sentence.

But Chase Your Shadow is far more than just a sensational crime story, as Carlin shows through meticulous reporting and extensive access to Pistorius and his family and friends. This courtroom confrontation between a white, privileged, twenty-seven-year-old male athlete on trial for murder and the black female judge who alone would decide his fate—held in a democratic country trying to exorcise its history of racial hatred and endemic violence against women—exposes the complex social and political realities of post-Apartheid South Africa.

About the Author:

John Carlin is an acclaimed journalist and author who was the Independent's South Africa correspondent from 1989 to 1995. He has also written for the Times, the Observer, the Sunday Times, and the New York Times, among other publications. His previous books include Knowing Mandela and Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, which is the basis for the film Invictus.

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