Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Summer Savings Up to 25% Off Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Oasis Listen in Prime Shop now Learn more

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 2 July 1999
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.
0Comment|13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 September 2000
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.
0Comment|14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 November 2010
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.
I found that the Author was a self romantic who overplayed the positions he found himself in and was rather annoyed at the fact that he portrayed Neil Alcock as the first white man to live and be a truly white man accepted as an African. The Catholic Church has many, not a few, as Rian Malan states, of Fathers, Sisters, Brothers and teachers who have given their lives to this cause, living with and being part of communities.
I personally think Neil Alcock was a wonderful man, however, I feel he was obsessed and this was not always conducive to what he wanted to achieve. In some cases it caused more pain and suffering to those he tried t help.
After reading the book, I asked myself as to what the author was actually trying to achieve other that highlight the brutal crime committed by whites and blacks alike and having a go at Afrikaners in general.
You are foolish if you can believe that all crimes where born of the reason of apartheid. Tugs, or Tsotsies, as Rian calls them were brutal, sadistic criminals and in most cases committed crimes against there own kind far worse than any black was subjected to by whites.
I witnessed these crimes as I was in Soweto in 1976 and was deployed into the townships in 1984/5 and still can't get over what I was witness to and was part of.
I served on the Border in 1977 / 1981/2 and would rather have been in SWA or Angola than be in the townships.
To use the term `Saint' anywhere near the name of Simon Mpungose is disrespect to those he murdered. He was nothing more that a sadistic murderer, why is it justified that Rian find a reason for his horrific crimes, yet not extent the same courtesy to the Afrikaner.
I would love to see a follow up book by Rian and what reason he would now give for the crimes committed in South Africa, the murder and rape capital of the world. The people commining these crimes now are in majority of the same character and of those who used UDF, Azapo, ANC to justify there horrific crimes.
I do not have the answers and know that the whole picture is rather more complex than portrayed in this book. It is a good read, but, slightly misleading if you are uninformed and were not there to witness the truth
66 comments|25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 June 2004
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.
0Comment|16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 January 2006
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"
0Comment|8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 October 2008
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.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Rian Malan begins 'My Traitor's Heart' as an exploration of his French Hugenot ancestors' journey into the heart of South Africa, from the land owner who ran off with a coloured slave girl to the founder member of a Right-Wing 'Gentleman's Club'. It becomes a journey for him, as he is forced to face the guilt and fear of White South Africa during the mid-1980's. He takes the reader frankly and honestly through a potted history of a country being torn apart. At times the detail is gruesome, tragic and horrifying, but Malan weaves it so masterfully with stories of love and compassion that the tone never becomes morbid. He is an honest narrator, conscious of his failings and weaknesses, and never attempting to do anything other than tell his own story. The reader cannot help but be disarmed by his matter-of-fact approach. To those of you wanting a brief, articulate history of South Africa prior to Democracy, you can't do much better than this.
0Comment|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 May 2001
Rian Malan is a wordsmith of such creativity that even if you have no interest in this part of the world - you should read this for the beauty of his prose.
If you have any interest, atrraction or have ever visited South Africa you cannot be without this book. Malan has no axes to grind other that where he sees his own failings. A balanced work that brings home the enormity of the issues facing those that have to govern this diverse group of cultures that may not sit together comfortably for more than one generation to come.
0Comment|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 September 2003
Here is a narrative whose author has not bought into the huge amount of propoganda surrounding all the different groups involved in recent South African history, and is courageous enough to tell the truth about his experiences. A thoroughly good read, leading to much introspective thought.
0Comment|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 May 2010
I can recommend this book to anyone interested in the terrible human cost of Apartheid. Written at the time Mandela was released from prison it describes the last years of Apartheid as seen by a young Afrikaaner who, at an early age, turned against enforced segregation. As I was born in South Africa the description of life in the white suburbs of Johannesburg rang very true for me as did the attempts by liberal whites to bridge the black/white gap.
The author eventually left for a period of exile but felt he had to return to the country of his birth (and his ancestors). I found the list of apartheid atrocities too much after this and skipped to the last chapters. The basic message for black/white reconciliation is bleak though there are glimmers of hope for the future.
An important book still relevant to a South Africa struggling to come to terms with its past.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)