A South African Memoir
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 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.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-40985-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993