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At times staggers under the weight of its liberal pieties
on 5 May 2010
This is an interesting book. But it's also a rather simplistic book. It serves up too many lazy stereotypes. It seems that Carlin has yet to meet an Afrikaner who doesn't warrant the prefix "brutish". Nor has he yet met an Afrikaner who doesn't sport an enormous beer belly and wear a safari suit. They all drink brandy and coke and munch on boerewors. The typical Afrikaner childhood, we are told, involves children "whacking each other over the head with chairs".
The treatment of the ANC, on the other hand, is entirely uncritical. Carlin's portrayal of the IFP-ANC turf wars in the early 1990s is especially one-sided. There is no attempt to point out the dark side of the ANC, the vicious internal power struggles or the outright corruption. We don't learn that over a million whites have fled the country since the end of Apartheid. Instead, we are merely served up Saint Nelson who beguiles everyone with his almost mystical powers.
Now, it probably suited Carlin's Hollywood ambitions to make the tale saccharine and simple, with Baddies and Goodies clearly marked out for you, but that doesn't make it any less irritating. This book is well worth reading but do so with a healthy dose of scepticism.