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A fascinating story with a tight focus, though the writing is closer to a comic book than a journalistic piece.

A concise graphic narrative of secret negotiations that helped keep the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa from becoming even more of a bloodbath.

The heroism of Nelson Mandela has earned him international renown and respect. Veteran British journalist Carlin (Chase Your Shadow: The Trials of Oscar Pistorius, 2014, etc.), who served as South African correspondent through the era depicted here, tells the story from the perspective of the other protagonist, Constand Viljoen, the general who had formerly been Mandela’s chief antagonist. Viljoen was the military chief of apartheid South Africa; in his retirement, he continued to view Mandela as a communist and the enemy of white South Africa. Yet times were changing, and the general’s brother was changing with them, advancing the argument that patriotism required serving the best interests of all South Africans, black and white. Amid the democratic reforms and Mandela’s release from prison, it was clear that the black citizens had the numbers on their side while the armed white forces retained the firepower. Viljoen had entered his retirement feeling “powerless to stop my country descending into darkness and despair.” As the struggle between black and white intensified, white nationalists implored the general to unite their factional divisions: “You are a legend in the South African military; you are the only leader capable of uniting us into one force capable of stopping Mandela.” The general believed in this mission, but his brother served as an intermediary from Mandela to arrange a meeting, where the two felt mutual respect and forged a common goal, a peaceful resolution with a government that would provide representation for both black and white. When they went public with their views, both were denounced by radicals who wanted total victory for their side, but that cost in human life would have been devastating. The general served his president and called him “the greatest of men.” Though dialogue drives the narrative, the most striking art has the fewest words, as illustrator Malet provides some historical context for the negotiations.

A fascinating story with a tight focus, though the writing is closer to a comic book than a journalistic piece.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-87486-820-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Plough

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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