History lies heavily on South Africa, and Adam Hochschild brings to bear a lifetime's familiarity with the country in an eye-opening work that blends history and reportage. Hochschild looks at the tensions of modern South Africa through a dramatic prism: the pivotal nineteenth-century Battle of Blood River -- which determined whether the Boers or the Zulus would control that part of the world -- and its contentious commemoration by rival groups 150 years later. This incisive book offers an unusual window onto a society that remains divided. In his epilogue, Hochschild extends his view to the astonishing political changes that have occurred in the country in recent years -- and the changes yet to be made.
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"Adam Hochschild is the most astute yet disarming of travelers. Through the prism of a strangely special personal relationship with South Africa, his is far more than an outsider's perception of the drama of our country. Read him, in particular, to understand the rise of white extremism which is threatening the democratic vision of the African National Congress and its allied progressive constituency among people of all colors. One of his own observations serves best to sum up what he captures so graphically throughout his book: this is 'South Africa caught naked.'" --Nadine Gordimer
"When I saw The Mirror at Midnight I groaned and said, 'Oh dear, not another instant "American expert" on South Africa'; but I was happily disabused of my disillusionment, be- cause this is a good book for anyone who wants a succinct and precise account of how this fascinating country has got where it is. Adam Hochschild has a perceptive insight into the workings of the minds of black, white, coloured and Indian South Africans and has woven contemporary and historical events skillfully. This is a book I recommend warmly." --Archbishop Desmond TutuAbout the Author:
Adam Hochschild was born in New York City in 1942. His first book, 'Half the Way Home: a Memoir of Father and Son,' was published in 1986. "By turns nostalgic and regretful, lyrical and melancholy," wrote Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times, "Half the Way Home creates . . . an extraordinarily moving portrait of the complexities and confusions of familial love . . . conjuring them up with Proustian detail and affection." It was followed by 'The Mirror at Midnight: a South African Journey,' and 'The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin.' 'The Unquiet Ghost' won prizes from the Overseas Press Club of America and the Society of American Travel Writers.
Hochschild's 'Finding the Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels,' won the PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award for the Art of the Essay. 'King Leopold's Ghost: a Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa' was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. It also won a J. Anthony Lukas Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize in Great Britain and the Lionel Gelber Prize in Canada. His books have been translated into ten languages.
Besides his books, Hochschild has also written for The New Yorker, Harper's, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement, The London Review of Books and many other newspapers and magazines. He is a former commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."
Hochschild was a co-founder of Mother Jones magazine, and was an editor and writer there for some years. He now teaches writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, and has been a guest teacher at other campuses in the U.S. and abroad. He spent five months as a Fulbright Lecturer in India. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Arlie, the sociologist and author. They have two sons.
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