SOUTHERN AFRICA: The Critical Land by Clarke Newlon

SOUTHERN AFRICA: The Critical Land

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Diamonds are De Beers and De Beers is South Africa."" And, yes, ""diamonds are also the best friends of anyone who has them."" Unlike Murphy (above), Newlon is concerned with the importance of Southern Africa to the U.S. and other Western powers, and most particularly with its strategic importance--first, by its position athwart the major oil-transport route around the Cape of Good Hope, and, second, by its possession of mineral wealth. The most vital, you might think, being diamonds. A lengthy chapter summons up their allure, describes their physical formation, recaps the history of the diamond trade (not only in South Africa) and diamond mining, recounts the conflict between Cecil Rhodes and Jewish upstart Barney Barnato for their control, explains how they're priced and marketed. Not that gold is slighted; a briefer chapter takes ""everybody's favorite commodity"" over the same ground. Apropos of Africa, the titular subject, Newlon is equally undiscriminating in his strictures against white rule (equating, for instance, French and Belgian colonial policies) and his ostensible support for black aspirations (grievously misrepresenting Steve Bike as maintaining that blacks must first ""learn to respect themselves. . . before they could expect the respect of the rest of the world""). Despite passing reference to ""ancient great kingdoms,"" the book has recourse to ""the mist-shrouded shadows"" of African history; and, by contrast, tries so hard to be up-to-date--in the cases of Namibia, South Africa, and Rhodesia--as to be already out-of-date. But mostly it's out of whack, and no competition for Murphy's exacting, firmly grounded accounting.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Dodd, Mead