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My Traitor's Heart: Blood and Bad Dreams: A South African Explores the Madness in His Country, His Tribe and Himself Paperback – 17 Jan 1991


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (17 Jan. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780099749004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099749004
  • ASIN: 0099749009
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Rian Malan has written a tragic masterpiece and a classic of our time" (Time Out)

"My Traitor's Heart is a tremendous book about candour, honour and race, a witness-bearing act of the rarest courage. No one who reads it could ever forget it" (Michael Herr)

"A tortured, mesmerising attempt to capture exactly the conflicts of [Malan’s] upbringing, conflicts that went to the soul of the emerging nation." (Guardian)

"The remorseless exercise of a reporter's anguished conscience gives us a South Africa we thought we knew all about: but we knew nothing" (John Le Carre)

"A great swirling devil of a book and it is equal in every way to its vast subject - the black and white country of the heart" (Don DeLillo)

Book Description

Hailed as a masterpiece around the world, this exploration of apartheid’s legacy is horrifying yet beautiful, harrowing yet hopeful.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 July 1999
Format: Paperback
I could not put this book down for a moment. This book was a truly shocking-at-times portrayal of the atrocities that occurred in South Africa in the '80s. It made me very emotional and some parts of it were very, very difficult to read because they were graphic, intense and very real. It made me feel so sad for the brutal history that has touched all South Africans, but this book also made me hopeful for their future. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know both sides of the sadness in SA.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Sept. 2000
Format: Paperback
At times too heartbreaking to read, at times full of hope, but all the way through powerful and fascinating. Malan's honesty and bravery in portraying the political situation in South Africa under Apartheid is an eye-opener . I have never read such a moving story.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Alison Julie Bond on 3 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Firstly, I am a English speaking South African raised in a home that was fairly liberal with the exception that our mantelpiece had a bust of Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener with a portrait of Jun Smuts on the wall, something I never had the chance to discuss with my father. My mother and father separated when I was 5 and I was raised by my Zulu nanny who I loved and respected as I would my own mother.
I left South Africa my home 15 years ago and now live in France.
Reading this book has opened many wounds and also, find myself asking a few questions. I was unable to put the book down and going through it, I looked back on what I was so a part of. I was there.
I feel that the author has been unnecessarily brutal in the way he has portrayed the Afrikaners, even attacking the language. Let's make no marbles about it, apartheid was the most evil system of oppression one could imagine, but, it was not the start of the oppression of the black man. We have colonialism to thank for that. Like so many dictatorships, many were led and influenced by the few. Not all of us were in the position to pack our bags and draft dodge for 8 years.
Do not be fooled into believing that the west had no part through out those years in upholding the Nationalist Government whilst it suited their policies and pockets. Colonialism has raped and plundered Africa and the Aid we now give them is a pittance of what they deserve. In my opinion the Afrikaner is as much an African as the Zulu, Xhosa or Shangaan. At this moment I would not want to find my self being an Afrikaner in South Africa.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Maxine Morris on 2 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
As an avid follower of all things South African I have a shelf full of literature by the countrys' best known novelists..some being booker and Nobel peace prize winners.Rian Malan is undoubtedly a genius..His journey through the turbulent and striking era of apartheid is told with breathtaking splendidness. His thought processes are totally unique and he automatically encourages the reader to consider how it must feel to be an Afikaaner in post apartheid South Africa. He has a lesson to teach everyone and I urge anyone,even those with little interest in racism and race oppression to give this book a go...He is quite simply one of the best Afrikaans literarys in the 21 st century.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover
A lesser writer would not have been able to keep dishing up such appalling facts without driving his readers away. Malan's genetic legacy, his recognition of the conflicts in his own mind and his clear and genuine love of a country whose peoples (all of them) have such violent and confused histories enable him to offer an astounding perspective on his homeland.
His ability to put forth horrific story after horrific story and put them into some sort of context in which he tries to make sense of things is spell binding. This is a difficult read but a rewarding one. Although one's comfortable liberal mind always realised there was more to the South Africa story than a simple good/bad divide it takes an incisive mind to start to lay bare some of the underlying facts which are still relevent in the "new" South Africa and go a long way to explaining why post apartheid governments still have an uphill struggle in trying to unite the many nations of which it is comprised.
The only question is, when can we hope for a similarly reasoned and insightful "take" on events today - more or less 20 years on - please Mr Malan, where is your afterword because I am sure I am not alone in wanting to know where your thoughts have taken you since completing "My Traitor's Heart"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By daisyrock on 4 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's hard to imagine that someone can write a fairly long, factually dense history of South Africa in such an engaging, page-turning way. Considering that the subject matter is about as heavyweight as it gets, Malan's deft writing style carries you along effortlessly and the going never gets tough - well, not in a literary sense, although the tales he tells certainly pack a visceral punch. It's the kind of book where I found myself reading bits out loud to anyone who would listen - it's jam-packed full of stories, facts and figures that are simply shocking and stunning. And for those of us who stood on the sidelines at tutted at the existence and subsequent demise of the repelent apartheid system, it makes uneasy reading. Certainly,it's a book that's had me researching more closely certain aspects of the history of South Africa. The way the Biko and Mandela factions waged war on one another was particularly interesting and something I knew nothing about. I would without doubt have given this fantastic book a maximum 5 stars but for the fact that I felt it loses its way a bit just before the end, where we find Malan philosophising just a little too much - his words carry more impact when they hit you right between the eyes.
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