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South Africa's Brave New World: The Beloved Country Since the End of Apartheid Paperback – 25 Mar 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (25 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141000325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141000329
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

A relentless and pulverising polemic against the ruling African National Congress and virtually all of its leading lights (Economist)

[A] ripping audit of the post-apartheid settlement ... especially good at skewering Mbeki's "Africanist" rhetoric (Stephen Robinson Sunday Times)

Offers glorious detail on the political infighting and Mbeki's vindictive style of government (Chris McGreal Observer)

Review

'Johnson names names and spells out amounts ... there are landmines scattered throughout ... not a comfortable wrap up'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
What has to be recognised at the outset is that nothing in this book provides (or seeks to provide) an apologia for Apartheid. The demise of whites only rule in South Africa remains an inspriring chapter in the annals of human social development. However, much less inspring and detailed here, is South Africa's decline into a land mediocrity, corruption, low expectations, criminality absurdist political posturing and in-fighting. The character of Thabo Mbeki takes centre stage in this sorry tale: a man with chips on both shoulders, a hugely inflated sense of his own intellect and a paranoia that would brook no political opposition. That the ANC have discarded him can only be seen as positive and we can only hope that Zuma's new dispensation sees some return to the optimistic dreams of ninety-four.
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Format: Paperback
I am one of those thousands of health professionals who left South Africa and headed for the " Bright Shores " of England. This does not make me happy. Reading this thoroughly researched volume , I cannot classify it as anything but a blistering indictment on past and present ANC governments . I fear the future appears even more bleak .
You can feel the pain of the author as he describes , sometimes in exhaustive detail , the widespread incompetance , indifference , self serving egotism permeating through the land we love . I would be very curious to find out the reaction to this book in SA.
I feel nothing but sadness reading this book . The Beloved Country is no more .
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Format: Paperback
It took me quite some time to read this book. The amount of detailed knowledge of the author relating to the recent developments in South Africa is absolutely amazing, I would say it just overwhelms you. I often found it hard going trying to digest it all, particularly remembering all the names of the leading African actors.

The book basically centers on the period in which Thabo Mbeki occupied the presidency of post-apartheid South Africa. It makes you sad reading how one tried to turn the clocks backward in trying to make South Africa look more African. All in all, one gains the impression that South African whites have no future there. The book also dwells heavily on corruption and governmental inefficiencies, the growing crime problem and health issues such as the HIV problem. The presidency of Jacob Zuma is only touched very briefly at the end of the book.
All in all, the book makes you sometimes feel very depressed, as little hope is offered for the future in South Africa.

I would recommend the book to anyone trying to be up to date on African developments, however, prepare yourselves for some depressing stories!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Johnson doesn't hold back in this book. It is the work of a sincere, anti-apartheid liberal who has grown profoundly frustrated at the mis-rule of the ANC. He analyses the ANC's failings in very great detail, at times perhaps too much detail for a non-South African reader unfamiliar with all the various actors. At times, the negativity can seem somewhat relentless and one occasionally wonders whether Johnson gives the ANC too little credit for South Africa's successes since 1994, most notably the relatively sensible economic policies of Trevor Manuel.

The book is most enlightening when analysing Thabo Mbeki's psychological make-up. Johnson outlines a disturbed, paranoid individual whose "colonial mindset" prevented him from confronting reality. Those puzzled by Mbeki's AIDS-denialism and refusal to confront Robert Mugabe will find their answers here.
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Format: Paperback
The book is a coherent, relentless, instant history- nothing new if you have read the newspapers, no Wikileaks here, but with many references in support. It is very aggressive and pointed. However even in some new editions over the last 2 years the author has not yet been taken to court, unlike the cartoonist Zapiro.
Read between the lines & then google about issues like the Nats' leader marrying the wife of an ANC arms deal broker, and in another context the bill to the taxpayer for Johnnie Walker Blue Label whilst surfing the internet about HIV/AIDS.
Essentially the message is that since 1994 (not to say if not before) corruption is endemic, and the ANC moral high ground is long gone.
The book disputes the old cliches about Nelson Mandela, and whether the Scorpions were some sort of angelic FBI clone.
There was always one view that South Africa was too big to succumb to African continent-type presidential pillage.
The real question is, by when will the South African piggy bank be emptied?
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Of the brace of new books available on the new South Africa, only two or three are remarkabe for their insights and penetrating political analysis. More recent biographies of ex-President Thabo Mbeki (Gumede and Gevisser), present President Jacob Zuma (Gordin) and former ANC MP 'Mac' Maharaj (O'Malley) provide a look into the inner workings of the ruling African National Congress.
I can recommend the following works. In his study of corruption in the ANC in government, 'Eye on the Money: One Man's Crusade against Corruption' (Umuzi, Johannesburg, 2007), the anti-apartheid banker Terry Crawford-Browne writes that the 'arms deal' is 'central to the succession crisis that dominates the ANC', while Andrew Feinstein's 'After the Party: A Personal and Political Journal Inside the ANC' (2007, 2009), is in fact an 'insider' expose of the wheeling n' dealing behind the 'arms deal', "which has poisoned the whole political system".

The latter quote is from R. W. ('Bill') Johnson's tour de force of 646 pages, 'South Africa's Brave New World - The Beloved Country since the End of Apartheid', on the last page in fact. The cover blurb says it all: "(this) new book tells the story of South Africa from the magic period from 1994 to the bitter disappointment of the present ... At the heart of the book lies the ruinous figure of Thabo Mbeki, whose over-reaching ambitions led to catastrophic failure on almost every front ... As Johnston makes clear ... Mbeki may have contributed more than anyone else to bringing South Africa to 'failed state' status, but he had plenty of help." Johnston, a Durban-born Rhodes scholar and Oxford tutor, he was a correspondent to the London Sunday Times and a prolific commentator on South Africa.
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