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Archive for July, 2017

Launch: The Fifth Mrs Brink (2 August)

Karina M. Szczurek’s soul-baring memoirs of her life before, with and after her marriage to André P. Brink details a year of widowhood and a love to last a lifetime. This is the book which shows decisively that Karina is a writer in her own right, still coming in to her full creative powers, and simultaneously silences any gossips who might still have disbelieved Karina and André Brink’s love for one another.

A homage to a marriage cut tragically short by Brink’s death, in 2015 at 79 years old, and a diary of creative dissolution and knitting back together, The Fifth Mrs Brink combines enough literary skinner, salacious detail and moving romantic description of dealing with the death of a loved one to satisfy fans of her and her husband, both old and new.

Event Details


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Seven non-fiction eBook releases to look forward to this winter

A Short History of South Africa A Short History of South Africa
Gail Nattrass

In A Short History of South Africa, Gail Nattrass, historian and educator, presents the reader with a brief, general account of South Africa’s history, from the very beginning to the present day, from the first evidence of hominid existence, early settlement pre- and post-European arrival and the warfare through the 18th and 19th centuries that lead to the eventual establishment of modern South Africa.

This readable and thorough account, illustrated with maps and photographs, is a culmination of a lifetime of researching and teaching the broad spectrum of South African history, collecting
stories, taking students on tours around the country, and working with distinguished historians.

Nattrass’s passion for her subject shines through, whether she is elucidating the reader on early humans in the cradle of humankind, or the tumultuous twentieth-century processes that shaped the democracy that is South Africa today.

A must for all those interested in South Africa, within the country and abroad.

Gail Nattrass lectured in the history department at the School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, for 20 years. She is the author of The Rooiberg Story (1983), the co-editor with S. B. Spies of Jan Smuts: Memoirs of the Boer War (1994) and a contributor to They Shaped Our Century (1999) and Leaders of the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (2001).

Cuito Canavale Cuito Cuanavale: 12 Months of War that Transformed a Continent
Fred Bridgland

“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.

Fate of the Nation
Jakkie Cilliers

What does our future hold? Will the ANC split within the next five years? Could the DA rule the country in 2024? Will the EFF form an alliance with the ANC? What should we do to make our economy grow at levels that will impact on poverty and inequality? Will we become a more tolerant or a more violent society?

In Fate of the Nation scenario expert Jakkie Cilliers answers all these and many other questions. He has developed three detailed scenarios for our immediate future and beyond -Bafana Bafana, Nation Divided and Mandela Magic.

According to Cilliers the ANC is in many ways paralysed by the power struggle between what he calls the Traditionalists (supporters of Jacob Zuma) and the Reformers (led by Cyril Ramaphosa and others). This power struggle leads to policy confusion, poor leadership and general ineptitude in the civil service.

Key to which scenario will become our reality is who will be elected to the ANC’s top leadership at their national conference in December 2017. Whichever group wins will determine what our future holds. We could also see a compromise grouping being selected, Cilliers says, in which case the Bafana Bafana scenario – where we simply muddle along as a country – is the strongest possibility.

A book for all concerned South Africans.

Jakkie Cilliers is a well-known political and Africa analyst and commentator. He was the executive director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) for many years and currently serves as chairman of the board of trustees. Cilliers has written and published several dozen books, monographs and papers. He is an Extraordinary Professor at the Centre of Human Rights and the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria. His current interests relate to issues around South Africa and Africa’s long-term future.

Hitmen for Hire: Exposing South Africa’s Underworld
Mark Shaw

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

Oor Berge en Dale
Jackie Grobler

Daar is nie ’n grondpad te rof, plaasdraad te hoog of aanwysings te gebrekkig om Jackie Grobler te keer nie. As hy eers ’n monument in sy visier het, sal hy dit vind. In hierdie boek reis hy oor berge en dale van Lichtenburg in Noordwes tot die heuwels van Tabankulu in die Oos-Kaap.

Grobler reis onder meer op die spoor van Voortrekker Carel Trichardt deur Mpumalanga en in KwaZulu-Natal gaan hy na die slagvelde van die Anglo-Zoeloeoorlog.

In Gauteng vind hy monumente ter ere van twee van Suid-Afrika se grootste leiers: Nelson Mandela en Jan Smuts. In die Vrystaat soek hy na oorblyfsels van twee konsentrasiekampe en in Limpopo kom hy af op monumente van ’n Anglo-Boereoorlogkanon (die Long Tom). Sy reise na die Oos-Kaap neem hom na gedenkplekke vir Steve Biko en in die Wes-Kaap gaan hy op die spoor van die Portugese ontdekkingsreisigers. Elke provinsie sal ’n kaart hê wat die monumente aandui.

Ratels on the Lomba
Leopold Scholtz

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.

Ook beskikbaar in Afrikaans as Ratels aan die Lomba.

The Fifth Mrs Brink
Karina M. Szczurek

Karina M. Szczurek’s soul-baring memoirs of her life before, with and after her marriage to André P. Brink details a year of widowhood and a love to last a lifetime. This is the book which shows decisively that Karina is a writer in her own right, still coming in to her full creative powers, and simultaneously silences any gossips who might still have disbelieved Karina and André Brink’s love for one another.

A homage to a marriage cut tragically short by Brink’s death, in 2015 at 79 years old, and a diary of creative dissolution and knitting back together, The Fifth Mrs Brink combines enough literary skinner, salacious detail and moving romantic description of dealing with the death of a loved one to satisfy fans of her and her husband, both old and new.

An extract from Karina’s poignant blog entry about her process of writing and publishing The Fifth Mrs Brink:

I finished the first draft of The Fifth Mrs Brink in July. In September, I asked for the rights to my book back. I had to leave; I had no way of staying. If I wanted to truly take care of my and André’s stories, I had to find a home for them elsewhere. I submitted my memoir to another publishing house. They made me an offer. My new publisher gave me a book she thought might interest me: Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich, an account of how people survive, and make sense of, tyranny and massacres – by weaving tapestries of stories to keep us safe at night. The words of Second-Hand Time live in my bones.

In the evening of the 1st of November, someone asked me online which great writer I would like to have tea with. There is only one: The One. He liked his tea white with two sugars. And when he wanted to spoil me, he baked scones for us for breakfast.

I don’t know what I dreamt in the night of the 1st of November, but I know I slept through it. That in itself is a gift, a good omen. Uninterrupted sleep had become rare in the past few months, although I am mastering it again. In the morning of the 2nd, I had a scone at my favourite coffee shop. I drove to Woodstock in the little car that a friend lent me after my accident. I parked underneath the big red building, found my way upstairs to the 4th floor where kind people were waiting.

It is perhaps fitting that the publication of The Fifth Mrs Brink will be delayed by a few months next year to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first time I became a refugee when my family escaped the tyranny of Communist Poland and sought asylum in Austria.

Arriving on the doorstep of Jonathan Ball Publishers, I felt like a refugee who had sailed through treacherous waters in a derelict dinghy and found her way to the shores of a safe haven. With only my ancient fountain pen in the bag I carried, I was seeking asylum again. Massacres and tyranny can be intimate, private, go nearly unnoticed. I am not the only one who survives by telling stories. My stories are safe now.

Book details


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“Lots of muti to chew with an unrelenting, dangerous plot” -The Cape Argus reviews Dying to Live

Dying to LiveWhen the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident.

But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles … but where is the entry wound?

When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman?

As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow.

A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.

Alan Peter Simmonds recently reviewed the sixth title in Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu-series for the Cape Argus:

It has been suggested that Detective Kubu Bengu, hero of this series of detective thrillers set in Botswana, should be a contender for his own series like Alexander McCall Smith’s and I agree.

This sixth book in the series was my introduction to the African crime fighter; I look forward to reading all the books.

Real Africa, colloquial language, Botswana and the Kalahari unfold like the evening sky anywhere on the continent.

In this novel, already acclaimed by critics worldwide, the likeable, home-loving Bengu and his resilient young detective assistant Samantha Khama, plus a collection of savoury and non-savoury characters, tell a tale of death, deceit and intrigue in the sun, with conviction.

Continue reading Simmonds’ review here.

Book details


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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


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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


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“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.


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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


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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.

Book details


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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.

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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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