Books by Helen Suzman

Released: Nov. 8, 1993

The autobiography of renowned anti-apartheid politician Suzman—who kept the faith and fought the good fight in South Africa's long dark night of shame—that not only ``relives a magnificent battle against apartheid'' but reminds us how daunting that fight was. Following a foreword by Nelson Mandela that acknowledges her ``forthrightness and political astuteness,'' Suzman details just how those qualities shaped her long years in South African politics as a fierce opponent of the Nationalist government and as an equally fierce supporter of justice. In a memoir that's more political than personal, she describes only briefly her childhood as the younger daughter of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe; her marriage to a local physician; and her return to college after the birth of her two daughters, where she lectured in economics until her work in local politics led her in 1953 to become a member of Parliament—a position she held until 1989, when she retired. It was from the beginning an uphill fight, as the Nationalists moved to entrench apartheid, the then-opposition party split, and, in 1961, Suzman became the sole representative of the Progressive Party in Parliament—which she remained until 1974. The author had to fight not only male chauvinism and anti-Semitism but also a relentless legislative assault on justice and human rights—an assault that she valiantly opposed through legislation, speeches, and a tireless commitment to helping those most affected by it. Suzman visited prisons, including the notorious Robben Island; intervened personally wherever she could—though disliking her politics, many Nationalists admired her spunk—and was a crucial player in all the great political issues of those years. Today, she's not as optimistic as she used to be about the future, ``but we have to try democracy to show that it will work.'' An inspiring record of courage and principle modestly recalled—and a distinguished contribution to the history of both apartheid and women in politics. Read full book review >