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My Traitors Heart


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Written with smoldering moral outrage, this odyssey offers a firsthand glimpse of South African apartheid and its practitioners' rationalizations. The author grew up in a white Johannesburg suburb; his great-uncle Daniel Malan was the first Afrikaner nationalist prime minister and an architect of today's racist system. The author, a youthful leftist, then a crime reporter, left his homeland in 1977 to become a Los Angeles rock 'n' roll critic, returning to South Africa in 1985. His blistering book combines autobiography, reportage, coming to terms with his ancestral roots and loosely-stitched-together tales of murder and violence committed predominantly by whites. He claims that, for fear of being branded racists, white liberals avoid discussing certain topics, such as atrocities committed by blacks in the name of the anti-apartheid struggle and blacks' involvement in animistic religions. He sees no ready solutions in the fight to change an oppressive system. Author tour. (Jan.)

This soul-searching account of an Afrikaner's life in apartheid South Africa joins a growing body of publications by South Africans of every ethnic group. Malan, the grand nephew of a major definer of the doctrine of apartheid, Daniel Malan, left South Africa in 1977, in part to avoid military service, and returned eight years later. This book reports his observations of violent death in the land. He details instances of whites killing blacks, blacks killing blacks, blacks killing whites, politically motivated murder, and economically motivated murder. Well written, gripping, and disturbing, the descriptions leave one with a sense of despair which makes Malan's final note of hope all the more remarkable. Recommended for adult general readers as well as those with a special interest in South Africa.-- Maidel Cason, Univ. of Delaware Lib., Newark

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