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After Mandela: The Battle for the Soul of South Africa Paperback – 6 May 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Windmill Books (6 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099534029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099534020
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 268,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Gripping, lively and immensely readable." (David Blair Daily Telegraph)

"An informative, nuanced, and provocative end-of-era report ... Layered with anecdote, historical background and close scrutiny of recent events ... After Mandela is a valuable contribution to the debate about the future of the rainbow nation. Alec Russell has looked at the country with a sympathetic and knowledgeable eye and he leaves his reader with a deep understanding of the challenges to come." (Gillian Slovo Financial Times)

"Insightful, sometimes humorous, sometimes bleak ... Alive with delicious vignettes across a range of humanity" (The Economist)

"This is the book we have all been waiting for - the book that takes us beyond the easy assumptions and lazy comfort of the Mandela era and into what Alec Russell calls the second struggle. Eloquently he shows how transforming the magic of freedom into a nuts-and-bolts change in the lives of ordinary people is turning out to be far more difficult than anyone could have imagined. The strength and power of Russell's book lies not just in the big - and often disturbing - conclusions he has reached but in the little details that have got him to that point. This is not a book written from afar . . . After Mandela could only have been written by a man who actually cares about what happens to the people he has met on his journey through South Africa's recent history" (George Alagiah)

"Russell does not pull punches in describing the widespread disillusionment ... but he does seek to put the ruling party's shortcomings in context" (Observer)

Review

'Gripping, lively and immensely readable' Daily Telegraph --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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As a South African who left South Africa nearly 10 years ago I was curious to see how my old country was getting on since Mandela left office. In this way I sought out a few books on the current political situation, and came across this one.

A summary of each chapter is as follows:

1. This chapter considers the rise of Mandela, and how difficult anyone would have taking over from him due to the reputation that the international community had conveyed on him. He was after all a man, with a man's problems, not a saint. It was inevitable that Mbeki would have a complex upon taking office, given that he was succeeding a great man but Mbeki was nevertheless a highly intelligent man.
2. This chapter really highlighted to me that there really are still whites who acutely act racist towards some blacks. However, it also highlights that there are an even higher number of whites who are actually trying to help their fell blacks have better lives. This chapter looks at how some communities have transformed since the end of apartheid. Most noticeably Soweto is considered and some farm districts are discussed.
3. This chapter considers the rise of the ANC and how noble their aims were at the beginning. However, like all liberation movements they quickly turn sour and have to go through periods of great transformation in order to reform themselves before they turn bad. This chapter assesses how the ANC itself is in some ways turning bad, most noticeably in terms of the "racist" rhetoric used to answer their problems. It also highlights the get rich mentality of some of the party members.
4. This chapter considers how the burden of delivering results in a post apartheid South Africa is fraught with problems.
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For me, this book has put my mind at rest, that I will not return to live in South Africa, which has been a huge obstacle for me settling overseas. I left after being violently attacked in my home by 2 hammer wielding thugs who beat my dogs to death and ransacked my home and stole all my valuables.I have never been unkind to a Black person in my life.I have given employment to over 50 Blacks, helped their children through schooling and university.
Until the ANC becomes a true democratic party, or until a worthy and strong opposition comes about to challenge the ANC, I see no hope for prosperity for normal law abiding citizens.
Brilliantly written book, I couldn't put it down.
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Well done to Alec Russell for writing this important and n fact timely book. I thought it was excellent shedding some real light on a number of important people and subjects. It gave me a far better understanding of what drove and motivated Thabo Mbeki's actions or in-action in the case of dealing with Robert Mugabe or the AIDS crisis. It provided equally good background and analysis on Jacob Zuma. Alec Russell clearly knows his subject well and writes with great conviction and insight on it. A must read for anyone who has an interest in contemporary South Africa.
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Going, going, gone. If Zuma is not jailed soon, you can say good-bye to South Africa and all those rotten racists of Apartheid will be proved right. MBeki was determined to prove that Blacks could govern. Zuma is doing his best to disprove it. Try reading 'The Oshadangwa Murders' for an insight into the Apartheid years.
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Written in 2010, this book is still highly-relevant as South Africa prepares for the up-coming general election in May, twenty years after Mandela became the first black, post-apartheid president. He was always going to be a near-impossible act to follow, as Alec Russell acknowledges, and this book is a devastatingly honest yet non-judgmental assessment of all three post-apartheid presidents, and of the victorious liberation movement which became the ruling party and somehow lost its way.
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The word "nuanced" crops up in a lot of the quotes from an impressive list of reviewers, and indeed the book is wonderfully so. A book on South African politics needs to be nuanced, too often things in SA are oversimplified by journalists with an inadequate grasp of the enormous complexity of the country and its history.

Alec Russell is clearly a very intelligent and highly-regarded journalist, and so has been able to obtain interviews with just about every politician of significance in SA over the past 17 years. He offers interesting and revealing quotes from several leaders and would-be leaders in the ANC. He also provides a lot of excellent anecdotal stories and interviews with everyday people.

To live in South Africa is to experience very high highs and very low lows with regard to how you feel about the state of the country, its politics and its people. This book captures a lot of that. Reading it, I often found myself weeping, usually with joy, but often with despair. That is exactly what South Africa is like (And why I absolutely love the place - MOST of the time! [For what it's worth, I have to live Australia because my Australian wife has read too many articles on SA by less-competent journos than Russell]).
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This book is really insightful, and even though i have read several books about South African history, there are still 'new', shocking things that i was unaware of. This book brings to light yet more controversial facts and theories. Very interesting and easy to read.
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