Nelson Mandela's inauguration as president of South Africa in 1994 seemed to usher in an age of peaceful, rational change. But R. W. Johnson's major new book explains how this was not to be. The profound damage of apartheid and the country's new leaders - in exile or prison for much of their adult lives - were a disastrous combination that poisoned everything from big business to education and AIDS policy to relations with Zimbabwe. At the heart of the book lies the figure of Thabo Mbeki, whose presidency led to catastrophic failure on almost every front. In South Africa's Brave New World Johnson reveals how Mbeki and those around him brought South Africa close to 'failed state' status - and explores the implications for its future.
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R.W. Johnson has spent much of his life thinking and writing about South Africa. An anti-apartheid activist since his teens, he is one of the few people alive who heard public speeches given by both Verwoerd and Mandela before the latter was imprisoned. An ANC supporter, he narrowly escaped jail before arriving in England as a Rhodes Scholar. He went on to become a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. In 1977 his seminal book How Long Will South Africa Survive? was published. Johnson's long exile left him with few illusions about the ANC and its Communist party allies, but with South Africa's liberation he returned to live in the new South Africa, and headed the Helen Suzman Foundation. R.W. Johnson is the South Africa correspondent for the Sunday Times.From Booklist:
Bound to cause intense controversy, this critical history of post-apartheid South Africa by a well-known author and Johannesburg correspondent for the Financial Times, details corruption, huge unemployment, violent crime, mismanagement, crony capitalism, AIDS denialism, and, especially, the negative effects of affirmative action (“the greatest single disaster to overtake the new South Africa”). Johnson names names, and it’s quite a catalog: Mandela (characterized as old and frail, just a figurehead); President Mbeki (his HIV/AIDS denial, his failed campaign to smear his successor, President Zuma); Archbishop Tutu and the acclaimed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“deeply flawed, heavily biased, sloppy”); and many more. All the detailed local politics will be too much for many U.S. readers, but Johnson speaks for a very influential opposition that is gathering strength. American readers with South African connections will be intensely interested in this account, but so will all readers who have followed the country’s progress. As always, critics of change represent both reactionaries, who, in this case, long for the good old apartheid days, and liberals disappointed that, for the majority, too little has changed. --Hazel Rochman
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Book Description Penguin, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 752 pages. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # __0141000325
Book Description Penguin UK, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110141000325