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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Hitmen for Hire takes the reader into a world of hammermen, informers, rogue policeman, gang leaders and crooked businessmen

Hitmen for Hire
When you next sit down at your local coffee shop, look around you: there may just be a professional hitman sitting at the next table. As author Mark Shaw reveals in this highly original and informative book, the ‘upper world’ sails perilously close to the underworld.

Hitmen for Hire takes the reader on a journey like no other, navigating a world of hammermen (hitmen), informers, rogue policemen, taxi bosses, gang leaders and crooked businessmen. The book examines a system in which contract killings have become the norm, looking at who arranges hits, where to find a hitman, and even what it is like to be a hitman – or woman.

Since 1994, South Africa has witnessed some spectacular underworld killings associated with various industries and sectors. Drawing on over a thousand cases, from 2000 to 2016, Shaw reveals how these murders have an outsized impact on the evolution of both legal and illegal economic activity.

Mark Shaw is director of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime and senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s International Drug Policy Project. He was until recently National Research Foundation Professor of Justice and Security at the Centre of Criminology, University of Cape Town, where he is now an adjunct professor.

“Gripping, a must-read. This work is of immense value.”
– Vusi Pikoli, former head of the National Prosecuting Authority

“This is an extraordinary, enthralling read. With his unique insight, Mark Shaw has thrown a spotlight onto the underworld, exposing the commercialisation of murder in South Africa. I have interviewed a fair number of hitmen as a journalist, but this book still shocked me from cover to cover.”
- Mandy Weiner, author of Killing Kebble

“Mark Shaw takes a subject usually confined to the pages of pulp fiction and turns it into the stuff of serious analysis on the place that assassinations occupy in South Africa’s political, economic and social life.”
- Jonny Steinberg, author of A Man of Good Hope

Book details

A Michael Crichton thriller, a cross between The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Room, and the second novel of a Bailey’s award-winner: three international titles to read this July

Dragon Teeth
Michael Crichton

The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America’s western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. Against this backdrop two paleontologists pillage the Wild West for dinosaur fossils, while deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.

Into this treacherous territory plunges William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition. But Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edwin Drinker Cope, and abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice.

Soon William joins forces with Cope and stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions.

The struggle to protect this extraordinary treasure, however, will test William’s newfound resilience and pit him against some of the West’s most dangerous and notorious characters..

Ginny Moon
Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up…

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her. Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…
 
 
The Lesser Bohemian
Eimear McBride

The second novel from Eimear McBride, author of the Baileys Prize winning novel, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing.

From the writer of one of the most memorable debuts of recent years.

An eighteen-year-old Irish girl arrives in London to study drama and falls violently in love with an older actor. This older man has a disturbing past that the young girl is unprepared for.

The young girl has a troubling past of her own. This is her story and their story.

The Lesser Bohemians is about sexual passion. It is about innocence and the loss of it. At once epic and exquisitely intimate, it is a celebration of the dark and the light in love.
 

Book details

Also available in eBook format 9780008173081

Also available in eBook format 9781474055499

Also available in eBook format 9780571327867

“I injected myself in the muscle with morphine to cut off the pain” – an excerpt from Cuito Cuanavale

It is September 1987. The Angolan Army – with the support of Cuban troops and Soviet advisors – has built up a massive force on the Lomba River near Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola. Their goal? To capture Jamba, the headquarters of the rebel group Unita, supported by the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the so-called Border War.

In the battles that followed, and shortly thereafter centred around the small town of Cuito Cuanavale, 3 000 SADF soldiers and 8 000 Unita fighters were up against a much bigger Angolan and Cuban force of over 50 000 men.

Thousands of soldiers died in the vicious fighting that is described in vivid detail in this book. Bridgland pieced together this account through scores of interviews with SADF men who were on the front line. This dramatic retelling takes the reader to the heart of the action.

The final battles of the war in 1987 and 1988 had an impact far beyond the borders of Namibia and Angola. They not only spelled the end of the last great neo-colonial attempts at African conquest by Cuba and the former Soviet Union, but also made possible the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.

Fred Bridgland is a veteran British foreign correspondent and author who covered the Angolan civil war and the Border War for Reuters as an Africa correspondent in the 1970s and then for the Sunday Telegraph and The Scotsman in the 1980s. In 1975 his discovery of South Africa’s secret US-engineered invasion of Angola uncovered the CIA’s involvement in the Angolan civil war, and was a world scoop. Bridgland has written a number of books and has just completed a biography of Winnie Mandela.

Read an excerpt from Cuito Cuanavale:

Sergeant Mac da Trinidada, the black Angolan recce group leader, had continued to enjoy an exciting life after the decisive 3 October battle with 47 Brigade on the Lomba.

‘My team was sent north after that to track Fapla’s 59 Brigade on the western side of the Cunzumbia River and 21 Brigade on the eastern side,’ said Da Trinidada. ‘We were there for something like three weeks with our artillery bombarding their positions, and their artillery bombarding the SADF positions. With other recce teams and small infantry groups we were hitting their logistics routes from behind with mines, hit-and-run guerrilla ambushes and automatic ambushes.

Commander of 20 SA Brigade. Colonel P. S. Fouché with two M-46 Russian artillery pieces taken by the SADF during the Operation Hooper attack on 21 Brigade.

 

‘We reconnoitred possible crossing points on the Cuito River, scouted for Commandant Hartslief on the Mianei, and then after a short leave back at Fort Buffalo we were assigned to Mike Muller’s Combat Group Bravo. On 11 November we led Commandant Muller’s 61 Mech units into positions south of the Vimpulo while Combat Group Charlie tried to stop 21 and 25 Brigades crossing the river. There were lots of enemy patrols in the area because 21/25 Brigades were retreating fast from the Mianei towards the Vimpulo.

South African 155-mm G-5 artillery on the outskirts of Cuito Cuanavale pounding Cuban and Angolan positions. The guns were carefully camouflaged against enemy air attacks.

 

I went out with Corporal Branco on 12 November to try to locate the enemy concentrations, but we couldn’t get to close quarters because of the heavy patrolling. The next day we got near and we brought in our Mirages to bomb them and then brought in G-5 fire.

Branco and I followed 21/25 Brigades as they retreated, trying to bring 61 Mech in on their tracks from behind to complement the big Combat Group Charlie ambush on the Vimpulo.

Captain John Mortimer in a Casspir attached to an SADF/UNITA liaison team; he stood in for Les Rudman’s team during their home leave.

 

‘On 14 November 21/25 Brigades began another sprint towards the Vimpulo at about 4 pm. Branco and I followed their tank tracks for about four kilometres before I radioed to 61 Mech that they should get ready to attack. What I hadn’t realised at first was that the 21 Brigade had left some of their tanks behind at their old position to the south. We moved towards it and they shot at us with 12.7 mm guns mounted on top of the tanks. We were only two guys, so we aren’t an easy target.

Bushmen of the SADF’s 201 Battalion played an important role in the war. Although they operated as machinegunners, drivers, signallers, medics and mortarmen, their most remarkable skill was tracking, following nigh-on invisible spoor at great speed.

 
‘We radioed Mike Muller to tell him not to come in after all, and then Branco and I started working our way eastwards with the eventual intention of moving northwards to link up with another recce team. We were wearing Fapla uniforms, and as we withdrew on the eastern side in the early hours (on 15 November) we ran into UNITA. Two hundred men were setting up an ambush there and we hadn’t been warned about it. They opened fire on us. I felt my AK-47 fall down from my right hand as I was on the radio to my people telling them I was pinned down in a UNITA ambush and somebody had better order them to stop shooting. Then there was heavy shooting again all around me. Branco and I “bombshelled” away from each other and started running. I had to drop my heavy kit, including my radio. I stopped after I’d run about two kilometres. It was only then that I became aware of the pain. A UNITA bullet had gone through my forearm and shattered one of the bones. There was a lot of blood and several nerves had been cut, although I didn’t know it at the time. I decided to treat myself from the medicine in the small emergency survival kit we carry in a special pocket in case you lose everything else. It ensures you can last for two days.

South African missile crew with French-designed Crotale missile battery. It is known as the Cactus missile in South Africa. One of the missiles had been fired at an attacking Mig-23 without success.

 
‘I injected myself in the muscle with morphine to cut off the pain. I bandaged it and then assessed my position. All I had was my big pocket knife, my survival food, a small compass and my maps. So I knew where I was, but without the radio I couldn’t communicate my situation to base. I ran south all day towards a 32 Battalion post 17 km from where I had had the contact with UNITA. All the way I was losing a lot of blood. I had to keep stopping to strip bark from chimwanje trees to use as rope to renew the tourniquet I had tied at the top of my arm. I wasn’t too worried at first about the wound, but I didn’t want to look at it. Later I began to get dizzy and I started thinking: when am I going to find people to help me?

Troops clamber over an Angolan Air Force, Russianbuilt Mi-8 assault helicopter shot down during the battles. This helicopter is codenamed Hip by NATO.

 

‘I reached the 32 Battalion post at about 5 pm. Captain Jako Potgieter (an artillery officer) was in command and I asked him for a cigarette. He had to hold it for me because I couldn’t keep it steady. At first, the captain thought I was shot in the body because there was blood everywhere and my trousers were soaked with it. Then there was an argument between the captain and the doctor. Potgieter wanted me to tell him what had happened, but the doctor wanted to start work on me. The captain said: “Let me have a quick word with him before you put him under the anaesthetic.” All I remember telling him was to change the radio codes because I’d lost my code booklet and that I’d left a flask of whisky in my kit. I always carried it to put it in my coffee when it was cold.

‘In fact, Potgieter already knew it was UNITA who had fired on us.  UNITA had reported they were involved in a contact with a whole battalion of Fapla, although it was only Branco and me. UNITA had  picked  up my kit, weapon and webbing and then realised we weren’t Fapla.

‘The doctor put me under at about 7 pm and I woke up just before 6 pm the next day [Monday 16 November] with my right arm and hand entirely encased in plaster. I was in the military hospital at Rundu. They had flown me there by helicopter at about three o’clock that morning.

The next day I was joined by the Lieutenant [de Villiers Vos] who had been wounded in his shoulder in the battle against 21/25 Brigades on the Hube. I was on a drip, but the Lieutenant sat talking to me.

He said Sergeant Mendes [of the 32 Battalion recces] had got my kit back from UNITA but had drunk all of the whisky in my flask.’

Cuito Canavale

Book details

Cuito Cuanavale is also available as an eBook.

Jonathan Ball Publishers Top 20 Local eBooks: April – June

1. How Long Will South Africa Survive?, RW Johnson

2. Brave Lotus Flower Rides the Dragon, Tracy Todd

3. Scarred, Kim McCusker

4. Glory Game, Joost van der Westhuizen & Odette Schwegler

5. Jan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness, Richard Steyn

6. Krejcir, Anelique Serrao

7. Rogue: The Inside Story of SARS’s Elite Crime-Busting Unit, Johann van Loggerenberg & Adrian Lackay

8. Heart of a Game Ranger, Mario Cesare

9. The Runaway Horses, Joyce Kotzè

10. Afrikaner Odyssey, Martin Meredith

11. We Have Now Begun Our Descent, Justice Malala

12. Agent 407, Olivia Forsyth

13. Between Two Fires, John Kane-Berman

14. The Sword and the Pen, Allister Sparks

15. A Game Ranger Remembers, Bruce Bryden

16. Around Africa on my Bicycle, Riaan Manser

17. The Number, Jonny Steinberg

18. Into a Raging Sea, Tony Weaver & André Ingram

19. Dragons & Butterflies: A Memoir, Shani Krebs

20. Jan Smuts: Afrikaner Sonder Grense, Richard Steyn

Leopold Scholtz’s Ratels on the Lomba places the reader in the midst of the squadron of young conscripts who were taken off to the Border War to fight in this battle

Charlie Squadron – the iron fist of 61 Mechanised Battalion Group (61 Mech) – led the way on 3 October 1987 during the climactic battle between the South African Defence Force and the Angolan forces on the Lomba River in southern Angola. Ratels on the Lomba places the reader in the midst of the squadron of young conscripts who were taken off to the Border War to fight in this battle.

Not only were they up against a vastly superior Angolan force in terms of numbers and weaponry, but they also had to deal with a terrain so dense that their sight was severely impaired and their movement restricted. Also, even though SADF tactical doctrine clearly stated that tanks had to be countered by tanks, these conscripts had to take on the Angolan tanks in armoured cars with inferior low-velocity guns and thin armour, designed to keep out nothing more than small-arms fire.

Yet, during the battle on the Lomba the 47 Brigade of the Angolan forces was nearly wiped out. This blow-by-blow account of a David vs. Goliath battle takes the reader to the heart of the action.

It is honestly told and vividly described, thanks to interviews with veterans and diary entries that help to recreate the drama of the battle. It is also an intensely human story of how individuals react in the face of death and how the war never left them, even when they returned home.

Dr. Leopold Scholtz is a former journalist and the author of seven books, including the popular The SADF in the Border War (also translated into Afrikaans). He was deputy editor of Die Burger until 2007 where after he headed Media24’s European office in the Netherlands. He retired in 2013, but still regularly contributes analyses on international politics and current affairs to a variety of publications. In 1997 Scholtz was recruited in the Reserve Force of the South African National Defence Force where he served as staff officer (captain) at several head quarters. He was also extraordinary professor at Stellenbosch University between 1997 and 2009.

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Cuito Cuanavale: Fred Bridgland’s dramatic retelling of the war that transformed the continent

Cuito Canavale“As we advanced the tanks began firing ahead speculatively. It was an amazing sight. After an Olifant [tank] unleashed a 105 mm shell you saw a path opening up through the forest just like the Red Sea divided for Moses.”

It is September 1987. The Angolan Army – with the support of Cuban troops and Soviet advisors – has built up a massive force on the Lomba River near Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola. Their goal? To capture Jamba, the headquarters of the rebel group Unita, supported by the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the so-called Border War.

In the battles that followed, and shortly thereafter centred around the small town of Cuito Cuanavale, 3 000 SADF soldiers and 8 000 Unita fighters were up against a much bigger Angolan and Cuban force of over 50 000 men.

Thousands of soldiers died in the vicious fighting that is described in vivid detail in this book. Bridgland pieced together this account through scores of interviews with SADF men who were on the front line. This dramatic retelling takes the reader to the heart of the action.
 
 
The final battles of the war in 1987 and 1988 had an impact far beyond the borders of Namibia and Angola. They not only spelled the end of the last great neo-colonial attempts at African conquest by Cuba and the former Soviet Union, but also made possible the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.

Fred Bridgland is a veteran British foreign correspondent and author who covered the Angolan civil war and the Border War for Reuters as an Africa correspondent in the 1970s and then for the Sunday Telegraph and The Scotsman in the 1980s. In 1975 his discovery of South Africa’s secret US-engineered invasion of Angola uncovered the CIA’s involvement in the Angolan civil war, and was a world scoop. Bridgland has written a number of books and has just completed a biography of Winnie Mandela.

Book details

The Guardian reviews Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent

The Guardian recently reviewed Sarah Perry’s acclaimed and best-selling novel, The Essex Serpent. When Cora Seaborne’s controlling husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness. Along with her son Francis – a curious, obsessive boy – she leaves town for Essex, in the hope that fresh air and open space will provide refuge.

On arrival, rumours reach them that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter.

Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for superstition, is enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a yet-undiscovered species.

As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter’s vicar, who is also deeply suspicious of the rumours, but thinks they are a distraction from true faith. As he tries to calm his parishioners, Will and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves at once drawn together and torn apart, affecting each other in ways that surprise them both.

The Essex Serpent is a celebration of love, and the many different shapes it can take.

In Sarah Perry’s second novel, 1890s London is mad about the sciences, especially palaeontology.

Every six months someone publishes a paper “setting out ways and places extinct animals might live on”, while smart women collect ammonites or wear necklaces of fossil teeth set in silver. New widow Cora Seagrave is patently relieved by the death of her unpleasant husband, a civil servant with “twice the power of a politician and none of the responsibility”; accompanied by her socialist companion Martha and her autistic son Francis, she leaves the capital for the wilds of Essex.

There, “never sure of the difference between thinking and believing”, she hears of the Essex Serpent, a folktale apparently come to life and terrorising the Blackwater estuary; and meets its spiritual adversary, the rector of Aldwinter, William Ransome, with whom she is soon entangled in a relationship of voluble opposition and unspoken attraction.

Perry’s excellent debut, After Me Comes the Flood, was short and strange, narrated out of a sensibility difficult to define or place, from a distance that seemed both alienated and intimate. Scenes shifted filmily across one another, characters slipped in and out of view, the effect being of something not fully told, yet fully present; not quite visible, yet producing a troubled enchantment. The Essex Serpent, by contrast, is fully acted out. Fertile, open, vocal about its own origins and passions, crammed with incident, characters and plot, it weighs in at a sturdy 441 pages. It is a novel of ideas, though its sensibility is firmly, consciously, even a little cheekily, gothic. The dreamy delivery of the previous book becomes, in this one, outright story. Narrative and voice coil together until it is very difficult to stop reading, very difficult to avoid being dragged into Aldwinter’s dark and sometimes darkly comic waters.

Continue reading here.

The Essex Serpent is locally published by Jonathan Ball.

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Listen: Sisonke Msimang on multiculturalism in post-apartheid South Africa

“We are learning to scan the wreckage of our history and mine it for gold. To look for the connections between us, even as we walk with our eyes firmly fixed on the horizon. We are moving ever more sure-footed, towards making a South Africa in which we all belong”.

Listen to Sisonke Msimang discuss multiculturalism in post-apartheid South Africa on CBC Radio:

Sisonke’s memoir, Always Another Country, will be published by Jonathan Ball in October.

Win! Wen! Ukuwina!

Jonathan Ball Publishers are giving away four copies of the younger-reader edition of Michaela DePrince’s highly moving memoir, Hope in a Ballet Shoe. Beautifully and gently illustrated by Ella Okstad, the book is available in English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa. Visit our Facebook page to enter.

Ballerina DreamsBallerina Dreams

“One windy day, a magazine blew down the road. I reached out and caught it. A pretty picture of a woman was on the front cover of the magazine. She wore a short pink dress that stuck out around her in a circle. She looked very happy.”

At the age of three, Michaela DePrince found a photo of a ballerina that changed her life. She was living in an orphanage in Sierra Leone at the time, but was soon adopted by a family and brought to America. Michaela never forgot the photo of the dancer she once saw, and decided to make her dream of becoming a ballerina come true. She has been dancing ever since, and after a spell as a principal dancer in New York, now dances for the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam.

My Ballerina DroomMy Ballerina Droom

“Ek loer deur die verhooggordyn en sien die entoesiastiese gehoor. Hulle wag vir die ballerina om te verskyn. Die musiek begin. My hart klop vinnig van al die opwinding en dan vlieg ek op die verhoog. Die ballerina is ek!”

Michaela DePrince was ’n driejarige oorlogwesie in Sierra Leone toe sy op ’n dag ’n windverwaaide tydskrif optel met die foto van ’n glimlaggende ballerina op die voorblad. Daardie dag het haar obsessie met ballet begin. Sy het haarself daar en dan voorgeneem sy sou eendag ook so gelukkig soos die vrou op die foto wees.

Sy is kort daarna deur ’n Amerikaanse gesin aangeneem. Sy het egter nooit die foto van die ballerina vergeet nie. Toe haar nuwe ma bewus word van haar belangstelling in ballet het sy begin klasse neem.

Sedertdien het sy nog nooit ophou dans nie en vandag is sy ’n hoogs suksesvolle ballerina. ’n Storie wat enige jong meisie (of seun) sal inspireer om groot te droom.

* Die boek is die geïllustreerde kinderboekuitgawe van DePrince se roerende memoir, Hope in a Ballet Shoe. Die kleurvolle illustrasies is deur Ella Okstad.

Iphupho lomdansi we-BhaleyiIphupho lomdansi we-Bhaleyi

“Ngelinye ilanga elinomoya, iphepha likamagazini lapheshulwa ngumoya lehlisa umgwaqo phambi kwesango. Ngelula isandla ngalithatha. Isithombe esihle sowesifazane sasisoqwembeni lomagazini. Wayegqoke ilokwana elifishanyana elibukhwebezane elalivulekile lenza isiyingi esimzungezile. Wayebukeka ejabule kakhulu.”

Eneminyaka amithathu, uMichaela DePrince wathola isithombe somdansi we-bhaleyi esasizoguqula ukuphila kwakhe unomphelo. Ngaleyonkathi wayehlala endaweni ezintandaneni e-Sierra Leone, kodwa maduzane watholwa umndeni othile wayiswa eMelika.

Nakuba ekuqaleni wayengazi ukuthi i-bhaleyi iyini akasikhohlwanga isithombe somdansi we-bhaleyi ake wasibona. Wayefisa ukujabula njengalomdansi. Lapho umama owamtholayo ebona ukuzimisela kwakhe nge-bhaleyi, waqalisa ukumyisa ezifundweni ze-bhaleyi. Selokhu adansa kusuka lapho kuze kube manje.

UMichaela waqokwa njengomdansi osemqoka omncane kunabo bonke ku-Dance Theatre yase-Harlem. Manje udansa ne-Dutch National Ballet, inkampani ephezulu ye-bhaleyi yasemandulo.

UMichaela waba ngumlingisi oyinhloko ku-First Position, idokhumentari eyawina umklomelo. Usebonakale kaningi kuthelevishini kuhlanganise i-Dancing with the Stars ne-BBC News.
Ngo-2015, uhlelo lwethelevishini yase-Hollandi lwenza ukuthi uMichaela abonane okokuqala no-Magali Messac, umdansi we-bhaleyi owayesesithombeni.

AmaPhupha oMdanisi weBhaleyi

AmaPhupho oMdanisi weBhaleyi

“Ngenye imini eyayigqutha, kwawela imagazini endleleni phambi kwegeyithi. Ndayichola. Le magazini yayineqweqwe elinomfanekiso womama omhle. Wayenxibe ilokhwe epinki emfutshane. Wayekhangeleka onwabile.”

UMichaela DePrince wathi xa eneminyaka emithathu wachola ifoto yomdanisi webhaleyi. Loo foto yabutshintsha ubomi bakhe. Ngelo xesha wayehlala kwikhaya labantwana abangenabazali eSierra Leone. Kodwa wakhawuleza wathathwa lusapho oluthile lwamenza umntwana walo, lwaza waya kuhlala naye eMelika.

Nangona uMichaela wayeqale ngokungayazi ukuba yintoni ibhaleyi, zange ayilibale ifoto yomdanisi webhaleyi awayeyibone ebuncinaneni bakhe. Wayefuna ukonwaba njengaloo mdanisi. Umama wakhe wamsa kwizifundo zebhaleyi esakuqaphela indlela ayithanda ngayo. Yaba kukuqala kwakhe ukudanisa oko.

UMichaela wachongwa njengoyena mdanisi mncinane kwiDance Theatre of Harlem yaye ngoku udanisa neDutch National Ballet, eyona nkampani iphambili kwibhaleyi.

UMichaela uye wangumdanisi ophambili kwidotyhumentari eyaziwayo, iFirst Position. Ukhe wavela kwiTV amatyeli ngamatyeli, kuquka kwiDancing with the Stars, Good Morning America nakwiBBC News. Ngo-2014, iThe Times yamfaka kwi‘Top 25 Under 20’ uMichaela yaza iElle UK yamfaka kwi‘30 Under 30’.

Ngo-2015, inkqubo yeTV yesiDatshi iye yalungiselela ukuba uMichaela adibane okokuqala noMegali Messac, laa mdanisi webhaleyi wayembone efotweni.

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A ringing argument for the classic values of pragmatic liberalism – J Brooks Spector reviews Between Two Fires

Between Two Fires John Kane-Berman is uniquely qualified to look back over the enormous political and social changes that have taken place in his lifetime in this fractious country.

In his career as student leader, Rhodes Scholar, newspaperman, independent columnist, speech maker, commentator, and Chief Executive, for thirty years, of the South African Institute of Race Relations, Kane-Berman has been at the coal face of political change in South Africa.

The breadth and depth of ideas and events covered here are striking: the disintegration of apartheid, the chaos of the ‘people’s war’ and its contribution to the broader societal breakdown we see today, the liberal slide-away, the authoritarian ANC with its racial ideology and revolutionary goals, to mention only a few.

J Brooks Spector recently reviewed Kane-Berman’s autobiographical memoir for the Daily Maverick. An excerpt reads:

There is a theory that an autobiographer always gives his protagonist the best lines in every discussion; wins every argument he engages in; and always has the very best discussion-ending quip to lock down that win.

In John Kane-Berman’s polished political memoir from a particularly difficult contentious period in South African history, to his credit, he doesn’t win every debate. Nevertheless, he does maintain his arguments were always the better ones, even if they didn’t carry the day on any particular day …

John Kane-Berman’s memoir is a ringing argument for the classic values of pragmatic liberalism, as opposed to dogmatic ideologies – the two fires of the title.

Thus the question, not yet answered, is whether such a struggle over ideas will come down on the side of open politics and pragmatic decisions or – as some increasingly fear – unhappily on the side of dogmatic, doctrinaire solutions to social, political and economic issues.

Between Two Fires
is a fine read with a rich depth of detail about his struggle in waving that banner of liberalism in a very tough neighbourhood. But – necessarily, perhaps – it leaves open the pending question of what will happen next in South Africa’s evolution.

Read the full review here.
 
 

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