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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars

on 23 August 2016
Informative and disturbing.
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on 22 October 2016
Excellent seller. Thank you. I enjoyed the book I learnt a lot from it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 August 2015
Persephone Books is to be congratulated for stepping outside the normal range of their reprints to republish this searing account of life under apartheid in South Africa during the late 1950s to 1967. It is told by a white, Jewish woman married to a South African, with four children, living in Johannesburg. She and her husband were political activists, vehemently against apartheid, living daily with its inhuman restrictions, fighting to stay alive spiritually, socially, psychologically, emotionally in an atmosphere or constant fear - fear of imprisonment, of violence against the self, fear for their friends, colleagues, their country. It is both an intimate memoir of a family struggling to survive, to preserve their integrity, to hold on to what they valued, told from the mother's point of view. It's a study of a country blighted by corruption of the most profound political kind, a chilling portrait of a police state that's as relevant now as it was then. Hilda Bernstein, a journalist and author, tells her story with a novelist's skill, insight and sense of drama, creating a page-turning memoir you can't put down.

The story falls into four parts: life in a city increasingly succumbing to political violence, a story of a family restricted, watched and bugged by the police; a family divided by the notorious ninety-day interment laws; the trial of ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela, whom the Bernsteins knew, and whom Rusty, Bernstein's husband, stood alongside in the dock; and then the flight from the police, when the Bernsteins had to flee the country, leaving their children behind, a flight that was fraught with nail-biting suspense. Such stories bring history alive, graphically showing the human cost of political persecution. They bear witness to crimes against humanity. It's a brilliant account, not to be missed.
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on 24 August 2009
A brilliant read and, although it's very different from other Persephone books, in my opinion it's absolutely the best one on their list.
The Rivonia trial of 1963/64 was the apartheid regime's attempt to break the leadership of the ANC; Hilda Bernstein's (white, Jewish) husband stood trial alongside Nelson Mandela and, although Bernstein was acquitted, Mandela and all the other defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment.
But what makes this book such a compelling read is the way Mrs Bernstein describes how the political struggle impacts on ordinary family life which must carry on even as her husband faces a possible death sentence; and the stress of living under constant surveillance. When she and her husband finally make the decision to flee the country, they have to leave the younger children in the care of a big sister. They escape through their garden as Special Branch police arrive at their door and even then Hilda Bernstein is trying to put on a final load of family washing! The tension of their illegal flight to Botswana is unbearable.
Impossible to put down and utterly gripping.
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