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Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country Hardcover – 17 Feb 1997


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st edition (17 Feb 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316639982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316639989
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 977,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 April 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gillian Slovo, 1997: Every Little Thing; my family, my country London: Abacus.
By any standard, this is an exceptional political memoir about the meaning of commitment to the cause of a multi-racial South Africa. Gillian, the daughter of Ruth First and Joe Slovo, has given us a profound insight into the tensions between the public and private lives of her parents, two of the ANC's best-known figures. Starting with the murder of her mother in Maputo in 1982, the author moves by a series of flashbacks from her childhood recollections of the verdant suburbs of Johannesburg in the early 1960s to years in exile and ultimately, the triumph of the ANC, the new South Africa and Joe's untimely death from cancer in 1995. But this is no simple memoir: it is a search to piece together the private identities of two exceptional political figures whose children perceived them only in fleeting glimpses during the turbulent years of confinement, exile and separation. Against Joe's wishes, his journalist daughter has pieced together the private lives behind the politics. This is a book about the emotional price paid by the Ruth, Joe and their children for 30 years of political struggle, a story told with an exceptional lucidity and compassion. It is essential reading for anybody who seeks to understand how grim was the struggle against apartheid.
G W Irvin
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Douglas on 4 Dec 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this when it was first published in 1997 after a wonderful conversation with the author at a book reading in Belfast, and read it again this year. She writes with exquisite fluidity and delicate touch about her upbringing, her country (South Africa) and its politics, and most of all about the ongoing tension between herself and her parents (the iconic anti-apartheid activists Joe Slovo and Ruth First). She documents with genuine feeling and emotion the consequences of her parents' political commitment both for them (murder, death and imprisonment, but also revolutionary political change) and herself (parental abandonment, but also deep and ever growing personal understanding, gratitude and pride in what they did). The issue of the conflict between the political and the personal has never been written about in such an illuminating and touching manner. This is the best book I've read in many, many years.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. H. Dewey on 6 Jan 2001
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this sensitive account of the author's relationship with her parents. It works on so many levels. It gives insights into South African politics and society from an unusual perspective. The description of Joe Slovo's funeral from the daughter's perspective is particularly strong. It discusses the tension between public and private duties - again from the perspective of a daughter who is honest enough to admit to some resentment towards the time spent by her parents in political struggle.It also deals with the story of the daughter's search for the "truth", and her doubts as to the word's meaning.This is a common enough theme in many post-modern novels; rarely has the theme been rooted in such rich soil. The scene in which the author meets one of the men responsible for her mother's murder is emotionally moving and intellectually challenging.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jane Moysey on 16 Dec 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was expecting a dry account of the struggles in south africa. Instead, it was a beautifully written account of growing up as a white south african whose parents are in the vanguard of the struggle facing danger and death.

People in my reading group who didn'y like it felt it was too personal and did not give enough detail about life for black south africans. I felt it gave a vivd portrait of a time and place but also dealt with more general themes of how families work
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