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Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1986
Publisher: Vintage/Random House

A wide-ranging, solid collection of material about South Africa, noteworthy for its inclusion of speeches and other documents by a variety of participants. Most contributors to this volume hope against hope for constructive change in South Africa, yet they agree that time is short and that disaster is at hand. Calling for talks between representatives of ""each community,"" Bishop Desmend Tutu writes, ""South Africa is a great country. . .We must work for our liberation, blacks and whites together."" And still he states, ""We are on the verge of a catastrophe of tragic proportions unless a miracle intervenes."" Novelist and publisher Mothobi Mutloatse highlights the depth of black unrest by noting that his three-year-old daughter recently asked for a gun so she could ""shoot the hippos,"" slang for the government's armored riot-control vehicles. British Lord Nicholas Bethell interviews African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, imprisoned since the early 1960's, who says of the ruling Nationalist Party, ""They must legalize us, treat us like a political party and negotiate with us. Until they do, we will have to live with the armed struggle."" Novelist J.M. Coetzee writes that ""one of the bitterest consequences of the decades-long suppression of black dissent [is] that ordinary whites now not only have no one with whom to imagine negotiating their future but have not the vaguest idea of what blacks might be prepared to settle for."" State President P.W. Beths stubbornly insists that the principle of one-man, one-vote ""would lead to domination by one over the others and chaos."" Uhlig has also included essays on South Africa's economic situation, on US policy toward South Africa and on South Africa's relations with its neighboring black states. ""Like a brittle tree that cannot bend in the winds, ""he writes,"" the internal rigidities of white South African politics make the current regime more, not less, susceptible to destruction."" A chilling collection.