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In a Different Time: The Inside Story of the Delmas Four [Paperback]

Peter Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Umuzi (15 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1415200491
  • ISBN-13: 978-1415200490
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 734,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This title tells the story of four young South Africans who embark on a mission that will ultimately take them to Death Row. They are a highly trained and experienced assassination squad reporting directly to Chris Hani. The narrative details their infiltration into the country, their operations, arrest and subsequent trial. These men are the foot soldiers who sacrificed everything. As their trial unfolds with their attorney fighting to save them from the gallows, so too does the story of their own lives and the choices they make. The story is set in a South Africa gripped by unrest and political tension, when the ANC was in exile and repression at its height. It tells of the extraordinary lengths people go to in order to fight for what they believe, and the acts people will commit to preserve the status quo. The characters are linked by bizarre coincidence and tragedy in a true account narrated by their attorney. Woven through the narrative is the construction of a bomb and its journey towards its target, and the circumstances which enable that meeting.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindle readers are cost sensitive 23 Aug 2012
By Jules - Published on
I did not buy this book as I was incensed at the price, I put it in my wish list hoping it would come down over time, in fact the price ROSE 25% to $25. There is no justification for this. Above $10 I am happy to make the trip to my local library.
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Story that Reads like Fiction 28 May 2014
By Jaidev Maharaj - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was simply brilliant!
As a summary of a time in South Africa's history that we know about, yet understand so poorly, it is without peer. It reads like a taut thriller and yet is based on actual facts. I actually ended up reading parts of this book aloud to my family so my children (born frees), particularly, would appreciate the history of our beautiful country. I recommend this book to anybody who wants a greater understanding of the transition of South Africa from a brutal, oppressive regime to the democratic and peaceful (largely) country that it is today. More importantly, it highlights the contributions made by ordinary South Africans so that all our children may grow up as free citizens in the land of their birth.
5.0 out of 5 stars scary! 15 Mar 2014
By JL - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very well narrated, spell bounding!
Wow, that these events actually happened is so tragic
How many lives lost, and for what How many lives lost, and for what really?
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 16 Jan 2014
By Kate S Laing - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An intense and in some ways harrowing insight into the final years of Apartheid and the brave people who participated in the struggle against it. A human insight into a complicated time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, Powerful and utterly engrossing 18 Nov 2013
By NAB - Published on
Utterly thumping read with an ending that whacks the gut like nothing I have ever read before or since. Magnificent....very highly recommended.
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