From Canadian husband-and-wife sociologists Adam (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver) and Moodley (University of British Columbia): a nonpartisan and nuanced look at the ``various competing forces'' now shaping post-apartheid South Africa. Adam and Moodley also coauthored South Africa without Apartheid (1986). Much of the analysis here attempts to address the stereotypes of both left and right that failed to explain the ``miracle'' that led to South Africa's current multiparty negotiations—or to account for the continuing violence. The authors note that neither the revolutionary nor the reformist agenda anticipated that the country would be transformed by these negotiations—negotiations ``that grant all major forces a stake in a historic compromise, by which each party stands to gain more than it would lose by continuing the confrontation.'' The result will probably be an ANC government working with a strong multiracial Nationalist Party to create broad-based policies. But such a compromise, Adam and Moodley warn, may well exacerbate South Africa's increasing divide along economic rather than racial lines as these two urban-based political parties control the spoils. The authors contend that it's this divide between the haves and the have-nots—between the urban areas and the rural—that's basically responsible for the current escalating violence. Tribal identity, they say, isn't as important as economic disparities, enormous unemployment among unskilled migrant workers, and the pervasive feeling among this group that their situation has deteriorated rather than improved with the ending of apartheid. Adam and Moodley analyze the various parties; the Communist agenda; the role of the unions; and the potential for disruption by either the far right or the left. As to the future, they're somewhat sanguine: A Yugoslavia or Lebanon type of scenario seems unlikely if the present cautious cooperation and ``remarkable pragmatic rationalism'' continue. For South Africa watchers: a timely, informative, and thoughtful appraisal.

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-520-08199-4

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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