A moving and eloquent reminder of the law’s power to do good, from a South African attorney (now living in Australia) who helped defend the so-called “Upington 25” in South Africa's largest murder trial.
Born in 1957, Durbach grew up during a time when apartheid seemed invincible and the likelihood of ending it peacefully seemed equally impossible. A daughter of affluent white liberals, Durbach was actively involved in protest politics from high school on, and after graduation from law school she joined one of the few white law firms in Cape Town committed to political work. In 1985, as protests in the black townships escalated, a crowd assembled one day to discuss grievances in the remote rural town of Upington and was attacked by the police. In retaliation, some marched to the home of a black policeman, dragged him outside, and set him on fire. In the first trial that ensued, 25 were found guilty of murder, which under the prevailing legal system automatically carried the death penalty. In 1988, Durbach was asked by charismatic attorney Anton Lubowski to help with the appeal. She accepted readily, although she knew it would be emotionally draining work, a “period of enduring discovery.” She and her colleagues on the defense team fought for extensions and called in experts who evoked the defense of “deindividuation” (a psychological theory that explains individual criminal behavior in crowd situations). During the trial she also got to know the defendants, who included an illiterate grandmother, a boxer, and an artist. When their efforts failed and 14 of the defendants were sentenced to death (with the remainder receiving long jail sentences), an exhausted Durbach headed to Australia on sabbatical. But Mandela’s release changed everything: eventually, 21 of the 25 murder convictions were overturned, and the remaining 4 served brief prison terms.
A memorable dispatch from the frontlines of those who fought for justice in the beleaguered end days of apartheid.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)