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Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country Paperback – 5 Feb 1998

8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New edition edition (5 Feb. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349108560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349108568
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 12.7 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,748,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A luminous achievement (OBSERVER)

Wonderfully moving ... anger, frustration, and the hunger for sharing wash her pages, though they never swamp the admiration for her parents (GUARDIAN)

Gillian Slovo has written a brave book, as unsparing of herself as it is of her parents ... a moving testimony (Christopher Hope, INDEPENDENT)

An extraordinary expression of the very nature of loving, which illuminates, with the anger and tenderness of deep emotion, that human territory we all occupy, and where we conceal so much from ourselves (Nadine Gordimer)

Book Description

*The deeply moving memoir of the Slovo family which also encompasses much of the story of the Apartheid years.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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 E. Braben on 7 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a wonderful read. It was very well written and the story was engaging in many ways. I have read many books written about Nelson Mandela so this story padded out my knowledge of the ANC in both a historical/political and a personal way. The description of Gillian Slovo's parents was of two complex and very alive people whose dedications to the cause left their parenting less than ideal. This was really a unique viewpoint of a very public time in the history of South Africa. I like this author so much that I have gone on to read other books she has written with equal enjoyment.
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