From my perspective as a non-South African, memories of the death throes of the apartheid regime have been somewhat blurred by the passing years. The major events remain in the memory (the states of emergency and civil unrest, Mandela's release, the 1994 elections) but many of the smaller episodes and dramas seem to have been either under-reported or never really achieved a lasting memory in international consciousness.
Such is the (true) story told here, and it is told with a novelist's style by one of the main protagonists uniquely placed to observe the unfolding events and the political twists and turns as they happened. We get a lot of fascinating (and at times disturbing) detail from both sides of the struggle as the personal histories of the ANC soldiers and the author are woven into the narrative, but as the timeline advances the wider story of the transition from minority rule becomes the main thread as political momentum gathers.
Suspense and pace is maintained to the end despite some outcomes being fairly predictable with the hindsight of history. However, the book makes it clear just how much uncertainty and apprehension pervaded the country in those years, which I had forgotten. The trial of the Delmas Four was a precursor to a more important one: in the dock next time was the will of the South African people to reconcile and arrive at a working democracy.
The author's clear prose and warm personality makes the reading a pleasure, despite the sometimes uncompromising subject matter. A great example of a Big Story focused through the lens of individuals' experiences. Highly recommended.