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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Judge Chris Nicholson Weighs In on Death of an Idealist by Beverley Naidoo

Death of an IdealistOn his blog, Viva Afrika, Brian Sandberg has reproduced Judge Chris Nicholson’s speech at the Durban launch of Death of an Idealist: In Search of Neil Aggett by Beverley Naidoo. Nicholson said the biography is compelling in that it invests in “the avoidance of polemics and sentiment”, making Naidoo’s account of Aggett’s death in custody of apartheid’s security police all the more powerful.

It is indeed a great privilege and honour to be asked to speak at the Durban launch of Beverley Naidoo’s book on Neil Aggett. It is also somewhat eerie to realize that Neil was born on my elder brother’s birthday and died on mine. Not being into astrology, I will leave that as coincidence.

I intend to be brief and understand my mandate to be an assessment of the book. I will leave the details of the life of Neil to the author and my assessment of the quality of her work means that you are in very good hands.

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