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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

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.

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