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Read a feature interview with Michael Stanley about Dying to Live

When 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.

J.H. Bográn recently interviewed authors Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip for The Big Thrill:

Reading novels is one way to learn about new cultures, new flavors, and faraway places. Take, for instance, the Detective Kubu adventures set in Africa. Of course, the murders are fiction, but all of the settings are based on reality. Michael Stanley is the pen name and combined forces of two authors who enjoy writing together; they make a point of visiting everywhere in Botswana that they write about. Even if the physical details of the location do not appear in the story, the flavor of the place does.

Michael Stanley: Stanley Trollip & Michael Sears

 

Their most recent book, Dying to Live, opens with the discovery of a bushman’s corpse near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The death is written off as an accident. An autopsy reveals that, although the man is clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles, but there is no entry wound. Detective 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 as the case widens and becomes more dangerous.

Keeping a character fresh is a challenge after six books, the first one dating back to 2008. Interestingly, in A Carrion Death, Detective Kubu appeared out of necessity to investigate a possible murder, but soon after took hold of the story.

“We try to have him develop from each book to the next so that he becomes deeper and rounder at each appearance. The latter is sometimes physical as well as intellectual!” say the authors. “One of the ways in which we do this is by putting him into different and challenging situations. For example, in the previous book, A Death in the Family, Kubu’s father is murdered. Not only does he have to face the emotional upheaval of his father’s death, but he’s prevented from taking part in the investigation of the case.”

In this new book, in addition to his professional commitments, Kubu faces a serious disruption in his family when his adopted daughter – who was HIV positive from birth – starts to develop an intolerance to her ARV medication. The theme of the book challenges Kubu and his wife, a challenge they negotiate with great difficulty.

The theme of Dying to Live is greed. This is set against the context of a hypothetical plant that can be used to prolong life. That makes it the ultimate source of greed, for who would not want that – and wouldn’t it be priceless? Another important aspect of the story is the bushmen themselves. “They have always fascinated us,” says Stanley. “We’ve read many books about them and visited places where they live. They have a tragic history, essentially having been driven into the semi-desert regions and then hunted like animals in colonial times.”

An important element of any culture is the food, and we see this reflected in the detective’s life. The authors contribute substantially to their character’s diet. “We think Kubu enjoys most of the things we like and rejects things we aren’t so fond of. Bobotie is a delicious South African dish with a Malay background. He loves it.”

The love for food goes beyond fiction as the authors produced a small recipe book covering some of their (and Kobu’s) favorite dishes – both traditional and more adventurous. A Taste of Africa is available at the usual online outlets. “Our readers enjoy trying out some of the food that gets a mention in the novel!” they say.

Continue reading Bográn’s feature here.

Dying to Live

Book details

Jonathan Franzen in conversation with Nick Mulgrew (3 November)

“Michael Stanley has written an excellent look at modern-day Botswana with a compelling cast of characters” – a review of Dying to Live

Dying to Live
When 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.

Doreen Sheridan recently reviewed the sixth title in Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu-series for criminalelement.com:

I’m a big fan of the police procedural, and I have a special place in my reader’s heart for books in the genre that are set outside of the United States. It is utterly fascinating to read about all the ways in which cultures differ, particularly in the policing methods and protocols that make up such a large part of these novels.

Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu series is one excellent example, showcasing the police force of Botswana. In this sixth book, the dead body of a Bushman has been found near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. It looks like he was the elderly victim of a scuffle gone wrong, but an autopsy reveals that despite his aged exterior and brittle bones, his internal organs are those of a much younger man.

Pathologist Ian MacGregor reports this puzzle to our hero, Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu of the Criminal Investigation Department, as a matter of interest even though the death is outside Kubu’s jurisdiction. However, when the body is stolen from the Gaborone Morgue and connections start to emerge with the case of a recently missing local witch doctor, Kubu and his team are drawn in to investigate.

Foremost of this team is Samantha Khama, the first female detective in the Botswana CID and Kubu’s protégé. She’s been assigned the witch doctor case, one she takes on reluctantly after Kubu convinces her that it’s a good opportunity to snoop around in the witch doctor’s life. What better way to gather evidence to support her suspicions of his complicity in illegal activities, after all?

Continue reading Sheridan’s review here.

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Seven local must-read non-fiction eBook titles

Churchill & Smuts: The Friendship
Richard Steyn

The remarkable, and often touching, friendship between Winston Churchill and Jan Smuts is a rich study in contrasts.

In youth they occupied very different worlds: Churchill, the rambunctious and thrusting young aristocrat; Smuts, the aesthetic, philosophical Cape farm boy who would go on to Cambridge. Brought together first as enemies in the Anglo-Boer War, and later as allies in the First World War, the men forged a friendship which spanned the first half of the twentieth century and endured until Smuts’s death in 1950.

Richard Steyn, author of Jan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness, examines this close friendship through two world wars and the intervening years, drawing on a maze of archival and secondary sources including letters, telegrams and the voluminous books written about both men.

This is a fascinating account of two remarkable men in war and peace: one the leader of the Empire, the other the leader of a small fractious member of that Empire who nevertheless rose to global prominence.

Richard Steyn, a graduate of Stellenbosch University, practised as a lawyer before switching to journalism. He edited the Natal Witness in Pietermaritzburg from 1975-90, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1985/86, and editor in chief of The Star from 1990-95. He served as Standard Bank’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications from 1996-2001, before returning to writing, book reviewing and publishing.

Ook beskikbaar in Afrikaans.

From Para to DakarFrom Para to Dakar
Joey Evans

‘I’ve realised that when things are really tough and there seems no hope for the future, it’s sometimes just Chapter One of a really cool story, and the ending is entirely up to you.’

Joey Evans has always loved bikes, from his first second-hand Raleigh Strika at the age of six to the powerful off-road machines that became his passion later on in his life. His dream was one day to ride the most gruelling off-road race in the world, the 9000km Dakar Rally.

In 2007 his dream was shattered when he broke his back in a racing accident. His spinal cord was crushed, leaving him paralysed from just below his chest. Doctors gave him a 10 percent chance of ever walking again. Many would have given up and become resigned to life in a wheelchair, but not Joey Evans. Not only would he get back on his feet and walk, but he would also keep his Dakar dream alive. It was a long and painful road to recovery, involving years of intensive rehabilitation and training, but he had the love and support of both family and friends and an incredible amount of determination.

Joey shares the many challenges he and his family faced, relating the setbacks, as well as successes, along the way to the Dakar start line. But the start line was only the first goal – his sights were set on reaching the finish line, which he did in 2017 – the only South African to do so.

From Para to Dakar is so much more than the story of one man reaching the Dakar finish line. It is a story of friendship and respect, compassion and kindness. It is about defying the odds to reach a dream, it is about grit, endurance and raw courage, and it is inspiring in its true heroism.

“I heard Joey’s story from my friend Darryl in the days before Dakar 2017 and I was in awe of what he was hoping to achieve. The thing that struck me most when I met Joey was that he didn’t mention a single word about his ‘problems’ – he was just another guy lining up to do the gnarliest race in the world. To me, that said more about him than anything else. Good job, legend!”
- SAM SUNDERLAND (overall motorbike winner, Dakar 2017)

“Joey Evans is one of the most phenomenal people I have met in three decades of Carte Blanche. His story is one of unbelievable courage, tenacity and belief, blended with a very close bond with his wife Meredith and their four daughters.”
- DEREK WATTS (anchor and presenter on Carte Blanche)

Khwezi: The Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo
Redi Tlhabi

In August 2016, following the announcement of the results of South Africa’s heated municipal election, four courageous young women interrupted Jacob Zuma’s victory address, bearing placards asking us to ‘Remember Khwezi’.

Before being dragged away by security guards, their powerful message had hit home and the public was reminded of the tragic events of 2006, when Zuma was on trial for the rape of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, better known as Khwezi. In the aftermath of the trial, which saw Zuma acquitted, Khwezi was vilified by his many supporters and forced to take refuge outside of South Africa.

Ten years later, just two months after this protest had put Khwezi’s struggle back into the minds and hearts of South Africans, Khwezi passed away … But not before she had slipped back into South Africa and started work with Redi Tlhabi on a book about her life.

How as a young girl living in ANC camps in exile she was raped by the very men who were supposed to protect her; how as an adult she was driven once again into exile, suffering not only at the hands of Zuma’s devotees but under the harsh eye of the media.

In sensitive and considered prose, journalist Redi Tlhabi breathes life into a woman for so long forced to live in the shadows. In giving agency back to Khwezi, Tlhabi is able to focus a broader lens on the sexual abuse that abounded during the ‘struggle’ years, abuse which continues to plague women and children in South Africa today.

Redi Tlhabi is a Johannesburg talk show radio host, broadcast journalist, and author. Tlhabi was born in 1978. She graduated from college with degrees in Political Economy and English Literature. When she’s not studying, presenting radio or TV shows, she reads extensively and runs marathons. Tlhabi won the prestigious Sunday Times Alan Paton Award in 2013.

Oorkant Jou
Juliana Coetzer

Toe sê sy, terwyl sy skuins afkyk na die mat, asof sy met haarself praat: “Vir te lank in my lewe het ek ongedefinieerd geleef. Ek weet nie wie ek is nie.” Iets of iemand moet die katalisator wees wat ’n mens aan die dink sit oor jouself. Die vrou van Waterkloof was dit vir my, die een wat my oor myself laat wonder en bewus gemaak het: hier binne is ’n mens. Die vraag laat vra het: Wie is ek?

Oorkant jou is gevul met die stories van die uiteenlopende mense wat Juliana Coetzer se pad kruis as psigoterapeut. Deur hul verhale van swaarkry en herstel, neem Juliana die leser op ’n reis wat eintlik ons almal s’n is: Die pad van grootword en eienaarskap neem.

Sy vertel hoe sommige kliënte haar inspireer en uitdaag om haar eie vrese te konfronteer, maar ook watter uitwerking dit op terapeute het om aan die wreedheid van die mensdom blootgestel te word. Daar is die families wat uitmekaar geskeur is as gevolg van seksuele misbruik, die man wat sukkel met sy selfbeeld weens afknouery en ook die prostituut Venicia wat ’n tragiese symbool van verwaarlosing word.

Juliana se aardse humorsin maak dat sy egter ook die komiese oomblikke raaksien – totdat die volgende storie oor die menslike toestand jou wind uitslaan.

Juliana Coetzer woon in Pretoria en beplan om binnekort weer terug te keer na die Wes-Kaap, maar Namakwaland, waar sy grootgeword het, is steeds haar hinterland. Daar, tussen die gousblomme en klipkoppies, het haar liefde vir woorde sy ontstaan gehad wat uiteindelik gelei het tot die publikasie van haar eerste boek, Bloedvreemd, in 2015. Bedags werk sy as psigoterapeut in haar eie praktyk. Haar gesin is haar gunsteling mense en die Sondag laat-middag braai, die lekkerste tyd van die week.

The Assassination of King Shaka: Zulu History’s Dramatic Moment
John Laband

In this riveting new book, John Laband, pre-eminent historian of the Zulu Kingdom, tackles some of the questions that swirl around the assassination in 1828 of King Shaka, the celebrated founder of the Zulu Kingdom and war leader of legendary brilliance: Why did prominent members of the royal house conspire to kill him?

Just how significant a part did the white hunter-traders settled at Port Natal play in their royal patron’s downfall?

Why were Shaka’s relations with the British Cape Colony key to his survival? And why did the powerful army he had created acquiesce so tamely in the usurpation of the throne by Dingane, his half-brother and assassin?

In his search for answers Laband turns to the Zulu voice heard through recorded oral testimony and praise-poems, and to the written accounts and reminiscences of the Port Natal trader-hunters and the despatches of Cape officials. In the course of probing and assessing this evidence the author vividly brings the early Zulu kingdom and its inhabitants to life.

He throws light on this elusive character of and his own unpredictable intentions, while illuminating the fears and ambitions of those attempting to prosper and survive in his hazardous kingdom: a kingdom that nevertheless endured in all its essential characteristics, particularly militarily, until its destruction fifty one years later in 1879 by the British; and whose fate, legend has it, Shaka predicted with his dying breath.

John Laband is the author of several highly regarded books on the Zulu Kingdom, including the seminal Rope of Sand: The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Kingdom in the Nineteenth Century. Laband is Professor Emeritus at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada; a Life Member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge; a Fellow of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a Research Associate in the Department of History at Stellenbosch University. He lives in Cape Town.

The Cowboy Capitalist: John Hays Hammond, the American West and the Jameson Raid
Charles van Onselen

“Charles van Onselen’s richly informative and gripping Cowboy Capitalist offers intrigue, betrayal and suspense worthy of a spy thriller in a deeply documented account of international entrepreneurial capitalism, labor exploitation, and political conspiracy in the age of imperialism.” – Robert E. May, Professor Emeritus of History, Purdue.

The Jameson Raid was a pivotal moment in the history of South Africa, linking events from the Anglo-Boer War to the declaration of the Union of South Africa in 1910. For over a century the failed revolution has been interpreted through the lens of British imperialism, with responsibility laid at the feet of Cecil John Rhodes. Yet the wild adventurism that characterised the raid resembles a cowboy expedition more than a serious attempt to overthrow a Boer government.

In The Cowboy Capitalist, Charles van Onselen challenges a historiography of over 120 years, locating the raid in American rather than British history and forcing us to rethink the histories of at least three nations. Through a close look at the little-remembered figure of John Hays Hammond, a confidant of both Rhodes and Jameson, he discovers the American Old West on the South African Highveld.

This radical reinterpretation challenges the commonly held belief that the Jameson Raid was quintessentially British and, in doing so, drives splinters into our understanding of events as far forward as South Africa’s critical 1948 general election, with which the foundations of Grand Apartheid were laid.

Charles van Onselen is the acclaimed author of several books including The Fox and the Flies, Masked Raiders, and The Seed is Mine, which won the Alan Paton in 1997 and was voted as one of the best books to emerge from Africa in the 20th century. His latest book, Showdown at the Red Lion, has been opted for a TV series. Van Onselen has been honoured with visiting fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and Oxford, and was the inaugural Oppenheimer Fellow at Harvard’s WEB Du Bois Institute. He is currently Research Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria.

Views From City Hall: Reflections on governing Cape Town
Patricia de Lille and Craig Kesson

“In this world of Metropolis, cities are where most people live and mayors emerge as the enablers of innovation and progress. They get things done. Patricia and Craig take us into the engine room of Cape Town, one of the most beautiful yet complex cities in the world and show us how it is done.” Mo Ebrahim, entrepreneur and billionaire.

“I’ve seen firsthand the progress Cape Town has made under Mayor De Lille. Successes in one city often spread to others, and this book provides a valuable guide for how, with a bit of motivated and dynamic leadership, cities can lead the way on the most important issues of our day.” Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P. and former mayor of New York City.
 

The City of Cape Town is a place of contrasts, the legacy of apartheid having left a distinct make-up. Yet the challenges confronting the contemporary city are notably aggravated by modern-day factors such as increasing unemployment and poverty.

In this timely work Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille and Craig Kesson, the city’s Director of Policy and Strategy, confront some of the issues of governance: how can the city help overcome social and physical segregation; how can the government live up to the promises made to South Africans; and how can the city function and heal within these limitations.

Patricia de Lille is a prominent South African politician and the current Mayor of Cape Town. She founded the Independent Democrats in 2003, which merged with South Africa’s long-time official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance in 2005.

Craig Kesson is the Director of Policy and Strategy in the City of Cape Town government. He has been responsible for designing the medium and long-term strategies for the City government and ensuring their delivery, as well as in leading delivery coordination efforts between the City and regional governments.

Book details

Listen: Sisonke Msimang discusses Always Another Country with Eusebius McKaiser

In her much anticipated memoir, Sisonke Msimang writes about her exile childhood in Zambia and Kenya, young adulthood and college years in North America, and returning to South Africa in the euphoric 1990s.

She reflects candidly on her discontent and disappointment with present-day South Africa but also on her experiences of family, romance, and motherhood, with the novelist’s talent for character and pathos. Militant young comrades dance off the pages of the 1970s Lusaka she invokes, and the heady and naive days of just-democratic South Africa in the 1990s are as vividly painted. Her memoir is at heart a chronicle of a coming-of-age, and while well-known South African political figures appear in these pages, it is an intimate story, a testament to family bonds and sisterhood.

Sisonke Msimang is one of the most assured and celebrated voices commenting on the South African present – often humorously; sometimes deeply movingly – and this book launches her to an even broader audience.

Sisonke recently was a guest on Eusebius McKaiser’s 702 show. Listen to their conversation here:

Book details

Launch: Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang (19 October)

In her much anticipated memoir, Sisonke Msimang writes about her exile childhood in Zambia and Kenya, young adulthood and college years in North America, and returning to South Africa in the euphoric 1990s.

She reflects candidly on her discontent and disappointment with present-day South Africa but also on her experiences of family, romance, and motherhood, with the novelist’s talent for character and pathos. Militant young comrades dance off the pages of the 1970s Lusaka she invokes, and the heady and naive days of just-democratic South Africa in the 1990s are as vividly painted. Her memoir is at heart a chronicle of a coming-of-age, and while well-known South African political figures appear in these pages, it is an intimate story, a testament to family bonds and sisterhood.

Sisonke Msimang is one of the most assured and celebrated voices commenting on the South African present – often humorously; sometimes deeply movingly – and this book launches her to an even broader audience.

Event Details

Launch: Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang (17 October)

In her much anticipated memoir, Sisonke Msimang writes about her exile childhood in Zambia and Kenya, young adulthood and college years in North America, and returning to South Africa in the euphoric 1990s.

She reflects candidly on her discontent and disappointment with present-day South Africa but also on her experiences of family, romance, and motherhood, with the novelist’s talent for character and pathos. Militant young comrades dance off the pages of the 1970s Lusaka she invokes, and the heady and naive days of just-democratic South Africa in the 1990s are as vividly painted. Her memoir is at heart a chronicle of a coming-of-age, and while well-known South African political figures appear in these pages, it is an intimate story, a testament to family bonds and sisterhood.

Sisonke Msimang is one of the most assured and celebrated voices commenting on the South African present – often humorously; sometimes deeply movingly – and this book launches her to an even broader audience.

Book details

Read an excerpt from Charles van Onselen’s The Cowboy Capitalist

“Charles van Onselen’s richly informative and gripping Cowboy Capitalist offers intrigue, betrayal and suspense worthy of a spy thriller in a deeply documented account of international entrepreneurial capitalism, labor exploitation, and political conspiracy in the age of imperialism.” – Robert E. May, Professor Emeritus of History, Purdue.

The Jameson Raid was a pivotal moment in the history of South Africa, linking events from the Anglo-Boer War to the declaration of the Union of South Africa in 1910. For over a century the failed revolution has been interpreted through the lens of British imperialism, with responsibility laid at the feet of Cecil John Rhodes. Yet the wild adventurism that characterised the raid resembles a cowboy expedition more than a serious attempt to overthrow a Boer government.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In The Cowboy Capitalist, Charles van Onselen challenges a historiography of over 120 years, locating the raid in American rather than British history and forcing us to rethink the histories of at least three nations. Through a close look at the little-remembered figure of John Hays Hammond, a confidant of both Rhodes and Jameson, he discovers the American Old West on the South African Highveld.

This radical reinterpretation challenges the commonly held belief that the Jameson Raid was quintessentially British and, in doing so, drives splinters into our understanding of events as far forward as South Africa’s critical 1948 general election, with which the foundations of Grand Apartheid were laid.

Charles van Onselen is the acclaimed author of several books including The Fox and the Flies, Masked Raiders, and The Seed is Mine, which won the Alan Paton in 1997 and was voted as one of the best books to emerge from Africa in the 20th century. His latest book, Showdown at the Red Lion, has been opted for a TV series. Van Onselen has been honoured with visiting fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and Oxford, and was the inaugural Oppenheimer Fellow at Harvard’s WEB Du Bois Institute. He is currently Research Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria.

An excerpt (pp. 118-123):

Hammond returned from the Matabeleland mining safari, in 1894, charged with precisely the assignment that he had hoped for from the Big Man, the one that he had failed to persuade Barnato to buy into. His task was to sell off Rhodes’s existing holdings in gold mines without causing panic in the market, and then systematically to reassemble a portfolio of properties capable of producing long-term dividends from the new, deeper-level properties. It was a project ‘more commercial and financial than technical’ that combined the need for personal and professional intrigue of exactly the sort that came naturally to him:

Part of my task was to see that secrecy was maintained. Had even a whisper of our intentions been spread abroad, the price would have gone rocketing. Working independently through several brokers pledged to silence, I was able to secure most of the desirable land on favourable terms.12

It all helped ensure that 1895 was a year of spectacular success for Rhodes, Gold Fields and, of course, John Hays Hammond. Towards the end of the year, before the Raid, the engineer admitted to Ernest Rhodes that ‘this has been an extraordinary year for money making’.13

It was during the covert switch from outcrop mines to deep-level properties, in late 1894, that Hammond was drawn into close contact with two men who were to play important parts not only in the immediate success of the Gold Fields project but also in the plotting of the Jameson Raid over the following year. One was Fred Hamilton, who he already knew as editor of The Star but who, by then, also suspected that Rhodes was bent on some sort of intervention on the Rand. The two not only shared Rhodes as an employer but also what was to become his biggest secret, and they worked together ever more closely. Significantly, Percy FitzPatrick later recorded that Hamilton ‘was one of the first associated with the movement’.14 Hammond easily captured Hamilton.15

Hammond’s other new contact was Rowland Albemarle Bettington, one of the stockbrokers ‘pledged to silence’. Looking back, it is hard to know whether Hammond was more taken with Bettington, or Bettington with Hammond, although one suspects the latter rather than the former. Bettington would have gravitated towards Hammond by personality type and profession just as surely as a river finds the ocean. The men and their families lived close by one another, on the Parktown ridge, and it seems significant that when Bettington had a house built for himself, in Princess Place, the residence was given the name ‘Santa Clara’, a small town that lay just 72 kilometres southeast of Hammond’s hometown of San Francisco. The son of an East India Company civil servant, Bettington was 12 years older than Hammond and had arrived in South Africa in 1872 as a 29-year old filled with imperial fervour and soldierly ambition but insufficient funds to purchase a commission in the British Army. In the eastern Cape, where frontier wars were almost as regular as the seasons, Bettington for some time alternated between editing or owning small-town newspapers and pursuing a military career, notably during the Ninth Frontier War of 1877–1878. At that time, by his own admission, Captain Bettington was fully overcome by ‘war fever’. In 1881, he made his way north, to Barberton, where he achieved some success as a broker.16

In Johannesburg, Bettington continued trading in shares, and in between kept his journalistic hand in by occasionally contributing articles to The Critic and other publications. Bettington’s interest in journalism appealed to Hammond, whose pursuit of fame and the desire to influence public opinion made the courting of newspapermen and the press a lifelong passion. Bettington, was just one of several former editors, including Percy FitzPatrick, Lionel Phillips and Fred Hamilton, who came to play a prominent part in the Jameson Raid and its offshoot, the so-called Reform Committee. As a professional subset within the Reform Committee, journalists were trumped only by the even tighter networks of doctors and lawyers. Bettington, like Jack Hammond, was comfortable in all those circles.

Stockbroking and journalism were not, however, Bettington’s only interests. Brave and possessed of a ‘fiery’ temperament, he was a thoroughgoing imperialist and particularly resentful of the victory that the Boers had achieved at Majuba in 1881, during their ‘First War of Independence’. He served on the Executive of Charles Leonard’s National Union and, by late 1894, was already active in the Rifle Club established by Lionel Phillips after the Pretoria upheavals that Sir Henry Loch had been called in to settle.17 Hammond, an American republican, but also an Anglophile radical, found much to admire in Rowland Bettington. He was no John ‘Coffee’ Hays, but he clearly was a man one could rely on.

Partly by chance and partly by design, then, by the closing quarter of 1894 Hammond was being drawn into a small circle of radicals where the notion of armed rebellion or revolt, while not as clear-cut as it was to become later, was nevertheless already part of the group’s conversation. Rhodes, Jameson and others might be sitting in the Burlington Hotel talking theory and the need for a decisive political intervention on the Witwatersrand, but back in Johannesburg Hammond was mixing with frustrated soldiers and men with a very practical interest in riflery.
Hammond, attuned to the needs of an industrial revolution literally and metaphorically, was in an environment where his darkest fears – already manifest before going to Matabeleland – were being fed continually. Among the mining elite there were sufficient mutterings about the inadequacies of the state for the Kruger government to start assembling a ‘secret service’ to provide it with a flow of counterintelligence about a possible urban insurrection.18 But Hammond knew better than most that a ‘revolution’ would require careful planning. The main question was, what part was he to play in it?

Given his experience in the American West, Hammond felt that, just as he had provided Rhodes and Jameson with an early warning about simmering discontent in Johannesburg, so could he see other signs of social menace with a clarity not always shared by the circles in which he and Natalie moved. Organised crime was beginning to manifest itself in the town through the unregulated sale of alcohol to African miners – a problem he and Clement had grappled with back in Sonora.19 Moreover, it was apparent that on the outskirts of the town and in its prison, black criminals were conducting a reign of terror among ordinary Africans even though no whites could, as yet, put a name to their organisation.20 Not so with white gangsters, ex-bandits who specialised in gold thefts from the mines, with the connivance of the town’s Chief Detective, Bob Ferguson, and whom English journalists, including the Lancastrian FR Statham, already knew as the ‘Irish Brigade’.21

For Hammond, who took it as an article of faith that ‘lack of law enforcement is a far worse thing than lack of laws’, there was worse to follow.22 In mid-October 1894, the Commandant of Police, DE Schutte, wrote an open letter to a Johannesburg newspaper, declaring, ‘I acknowledge the rottenness of the entire police force, but decline to accept the disgrace attached thereto, having striven to reorganise the same, but failed through lack of support.’23 The boom in mining stocks and a burgeoning criminal population was outstripping the state’s capacity to enforce the law. These problems were compounded when, in December 1894, a resentful Ferguson was overlooked for promotion to the position of national Chief Detective.24

Ferguson’s uncooperative attitude undermined policing in the town. By the New Year the law and order genie was not quite out of the bottle but the cork was under mounting pressure. Then, on Saturday evening, 26 January 1895, the cork popped and all hell was let loose upon the populace. ‘One-Armed Jack’ McLoughlin, leader of the Irish Brigade, executed a police informer in a shooting at the Red Lion Beer Hall, in Commissioner Street and, while making his escape, put another bullet through the head of a youth when he mistakenly thought that the young man was going to apprehend him. Two shootings, within minutes of one another, in the most densely settled part of town, sent shivers of fear through many underworld watering holes in downtown Johannesburg.

What could not be confined to the local dives, however, was what followed; it echoed through the press for days thereafter and up and down every important street in town. Having disposed of his informer-nemesis, ‘One-Armed Jack’ linked up with a pair of underworld associates, entered Rosenthal’s Restaurant, in Commissioner Street, and there, in full view of members of the public, presided over a celebratory dinner lasting several hours. The dinner was still in progress when Ferguson got to hear of it but, fearing McLoughlin and resentful of his superior, Andrew Trimble, he declined to set out and arrest the suspect. McLoughlin finished his meal and then left, disappearing into the night.25

Fred Hamilton at The Star led the public charge against Ferguson, pinning the word ‘coward’ to the Chief Detective’s already shady reputation. It was a label of dishonour, one that Hamilton’s close associates considered to be the most serious any man could face. Two weeks later Ferguson resigned but, by then, three other white men had been murdered in Johannesburg without any arrests being made. A full-scale colonial ‘panic’ followed. Rumours circulated that black men were involved in sexual assaults on white women. A run on gun shops followed. Sheriff Bob had blinked and, as he did, Cowboy Jack stepped forward.

From that moment on, The Star began a mass-based campaign designed to channel public outrage in ways that consciously pointed to the history of San Francisco in the 1850s. The Californians in town – and there were many of them – would certainly have understood the parallel being drawn, but for the majority of working men, English and Cornish, the comparison would have been unfamiliar if not a touch strained. Despite that, the campaign was driven with a focus and urgency that suggested that the editor was being strongly influenced by someone with first-hand knowledge of San Franciscan history.

The campaign commenced on 5 March 1895, when Rowland Bettington wrote a letter to the editor, which started by drawing attention to a recent murder of a white worker. The letter then continued, as might be expected from one who was a leading office bearer in the National Union, to reproduce a litany of familiar complaints about the franchise and the language question, and so on. But what the author really wanted was a public meeting, to be held in the Stock Exchange building three nights later, and to set about establishing a ‘Vigilance Committee’.26 Vigilance committees – more American than English – were, however, not part of the populist repertoire in Johannesburg despite the fact that one had sprung into life in 1888, as part of a response to the Irish Brigade.27 Hamilton was left to educate the majority of his non-American readers in a blunt, didactic leader:

Let anyone who wants to know what lawlessness means when it once gets a good grip on a big town read the history of the Vigilance Committee in San Francisco, or a half-dozen chapters of Mark Twain’s ‘Roughing It’ and then let the reader ask himself why what took place in western America in the early fifties should not happen here?28

This simple nudge in the right direction was followed, on 12 March, by a remarkable, half-page article written by somebody who identified himself only as ‘An American on the Rand’. The essay, ‘Vigilance Committees – A Famous Association’, was centred unambiguously on the early history of San Francisco. Not only did the author endorse militant populist action unsanctioned by the law as a way of controlling crime, but from the examples presented two other things stood out. The author bore some knowledge of American industrial history, and was also familiar with individuals in banking circles. He particularly admired the founder of the city’s most famous Vigilance Committee, William T Coleman, whom he lauded for the way he succeeded in paying every last cent that he owed creditors long after a declaration of bankruptcy had freed him from that obligation.29

The article was almost certainly penned by a son of San Francisco. And the campaign to set up a vigilance committee in Johannesburg was probably being covertly influenced by the same man who had helped oversee the establishment of the Law and Order Leagues in the Coeur d’Alene 36 months earlier but who did not want to risk the danger of being identified by name, by ‘Barbarian’ Brown. The essay had Hammond’s fingerprints all over it, and further evidence came from the great public meeting itself.

The gathering of the notables at the Stock Exchange on 8 March 1895, might as well have been compiled from a Who’s Who of those who were later centrally involved in the Jameson Raid. The meeting was initiated in response to a letter by Bettington and then supported by the article on San Francisco written by Hammond that appeared in a newspaper edited by Fred Hamilton and owned by Cecil Rhodes. Lionel Phillips was elected as Chairman of the committee and the main address was delivered by James Leonard, a ‘great friend’ of Kruger’s new reform-minded State Attorney, Ewald Esselen. Leonard was commendably honest and left the audience in no doubt as to what lines the mine owners were already thinking along. ‘We want above all things,’ he said, ‘the head of a department that shall be a police department,’ and then added the rider, ‘We want such a man to regard himself as the head of a quasi-military organisation and to feel proud of his own position …’30 The feedback from the deputation that subsequently went to petition Kruger as a result of this public meeting came from Abe Bailey. Ideological hardliners, warmongers, if you will, men such as Bettington, Hammond and the Leonard brothers, were setting the pace many months before the ‘Jameson Raid’ transpired.31

***

12 Hammond, Autobiography 1, p 294.
13 United Kingdom, Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Hammond Papers, JH Hammond to Captain EF Rhodes, 21 October 1895.
14 See Chapter 5 of JP FitzPatrick’s The Transvaal from Within (London, 1899) [hereafter FitzPatrick, Transvaal from Within].
15 Hamilton’s view was that ‘in a fairly long life I have known fewer men who were better balanced – a good mind, a sound and agile physique, a sincere and sterling character, and a humour and real kindliness of heart which bubbled and shone through those twinkling eyes’ – Harlow and Hamilton, ‘Jameson Raid’, p 287. It is not known whether Hamilton, like most journalists of the day and later, drank heavily. His is a description of Hammond that does not even remotely resemble that provided by others who knew him.
16 The only source of information about Bettington’s early career appears to be a short article that he wrote for the magazine South Africa and which was subsequently reprinted in, among others, The Clarence and Richmond Examiner (New South Wales), 14 November 1896.
17 See Colvin, Jameson 2, pp 14 and 137.
18 Nor was this a secret; note, for example, how JT Bain approached the State Attorney, Ewald Esselen, in August 1894 to become a ‘detective’ at a time when the secret service was managed through the detective department. See J Hyslop, The Notorious Syndicalist. JT Bain: A Scottish Rebel in Colonial South Africa (Johannesburg, 2004), p 108 [hereafter Hyslop, The Notorious Syndicalist]. On the rise of the secret service, see Kamffer, ‘Die Geheime Diens’, pp 36–70.
19 See Hammond, Autobiography 1, p 305, for his views on alcohol and black miners.
20 For the wider context, see C van Onselen, The Small Matter of a Horse: The Life of ‘Nongoloza’ Mathebula, 1867–1948 (Pretoria, 2008).
21 For the background to these developments, see the following by C van Onselen: Masked Raiders, New Babylon and New Nineveh: Everyday Life on the Witwaterstand, 1886–1914 (Cape Town, 2001), pp 90–91 and 109–156; and Showdown at the Red Lion: The Life and Times of Jack McLoughlin, 1859–1910 (Cape Town, 2015), Chapters 10 to 15 [hereafter van Onselen, Showdown at the Red Lion]. On Ferguson’s complicity in gold thefts, see CH Muller, ‘Policing the Witwatersrand: A History of the South African Republic Police, 1886–1899’, unpublished DPhil thesis, Centre of Africa Studies, University of the Free State, 2016, pp 264–276 [hereafter Muller, ‘Policing the Witwatersrand]. And for the mine owners’ outrage, see FitzPatrick, Transvaal from Within, p 64.
22 Hammond, Autobiography 1, p 81.
23 DE Schutte to Editor, Standard & Diggers’ News, 11 October 1894; and Muller, ‘Policing the Witwatersrand’, pp 145–147.
24 Muller, ‘Policing the Witwatersrand’, pp 100–180.
25 See van Onselen, Showdown at the Red Lion, pp 266–281.
26 Rowland A Bettington to the Editor, The Star, 5 March 1895.
27 See van Onselen, Masked Raiders, pp 36–40.
28 The Star, 5 March 1895. See also ‘Tonight’s Meeting’, The Star, 7 March 1895.
29 ‘Vigilance Committees – A Famous Association’, The Star, 12 March 1895. See also Hammond, Autobiography 1, p 9.
30 As cited in Republic of South Africa (RSA), Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository (PAR), A 1297, EM Trimble Papers, folios 504– 505.
31 For more of the context, see also Muller, ‘Policing the Witwatersrand’, pp 161–162; and ‘The Police Situation’, The Star, 10 March 1895
 

The Cowboy Capitalist

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Launch – Churchill & Smuts: The Friendship by Richard Steyn (13 October)

The remarkable, and often touching, friendship between Winston Churchill and Jan Smuts is a rich study in contrasts.

In youth they occupied very different worlds: Churchill, the rambunctious and thrusting young aristocrat; Smuts, the aesthetic, philosophical Cape farm boy who would go on to Cambridge. Brought together first as enemies in the Anglo-Boer War, and later as allies in the First World War, the men forged a friendship which spanned the first half of the twentieth century and endured until Smuts’s death in 1950.

Richard Steyn, author of Jan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness, examines this close friendship through two world wars and the intervening years, drawing on a maze of archival and secondary sources including letters, telegrams and the voluminous books written about both men.

This is a fascinating account of two remarkable men in war and peace: one the leader of the Empire, the other the leader of a small fractious member of that Empire who nevertheless rose to global prominence.

Richard Steyn, a graduate of Stellenbosch University, practised as a lawyer before switching to journalism. He edited the Natal Witness in Pietermaritzburg from 1975-90, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1985/86, and editor in chief of The Star from 1990-95. He served as Standard Bank’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications from 1996-2001, before returning to writing, book reviewing and publishing.

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From Rupi Kaur to Orhan Pamuk: these are the five must-read international titles for October

the sun and her flowers
Rupi Kaur

From Rupi Kaur, the top ten Sunday Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. Illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming. It is a celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

Praise for Sunday Times bestseller milk and honey:

‘Kaur is at the forefront of a poetry renaissance’ Observer

‘Kaur made her name with poems about love, life and grief. They resonate hugely’
Sunday Times

‘Poems tackling feminism, love, trauma and healing in short lines as smooth as pop music’ New York Times

‘Caught the imagination of a large, atypical poetry audience … Kaur knows the good her poetry does: it saves lives’ Evening Standard

‘Breathing new life into poetry … It has people reading, and listening’ The Pool

Rupi Kaur is a top ten Sunday Times bestselling author and illustrator of two collections of poetry. She started drawing at the age of five when her mother handed her a paintbrush and said – draw your heart out. After completing her degree in rhetoric and professional writing, she published her first collection of poetry.

The Boat Runner
Devin Murphy

Beginning in the summer of 1939, fourteen-year-old Jacob Koopman and his older brother, Edwin, enjoy lives of prosperity and quiet contentment. Many of the residents in their small Dutch town have some connection to the Koopman lightbulb factory, and the locals hold the family in high esteem.

On days when they aren’t playing with friends, Jacob and Edwin help their Uncle Martin on his fishing boat in the North Sea, where German ships have become a common sight. But conflict still seems unthinkable, even as the boys’ father naively sends his sons to a Hitler Youth Camp in an effort to secure German business for the factory.

When war breaks out, Jacob’s world is thrown into chaos. The Boat Runner follows Jacob over the course of four years, through the forests of France, the stormy beaches of England, and deep within the secret missions of the German Navy, where he is confronted with the moral dilemma that will change his life – and his life’s mission – forever.

Epic in scope and featuring a thrilling narrative with precise, elegant language, The Boat Runner tells the little-known story of the young Dutch boys who were thrown into the Nazi campaign, as well as the brave boatmen who risked everything to give Jewish refugees safe passage to land abroad. Through one boy’s harrowing tale of personal redemption, here is a novel about the power of people’s stories and voices to shine light through our darkest days, until only love prevails.

Devin Murphy grew up near Buffalo, NY in a family with Dutch roots. He holds an MFA from Colorado State University, a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Bradley University. He has worked various jobs in national parks around the country and once had a three-year stint at sea that led him to over fifty countries on all seven continents. His fiction has appeared in over 60 literary journals and anthologies, including The Missouri Review, Glimmer Train, and the Chicago Tribune. He lives with his wife and children in Chicago.

The History of Bees
Maja Lunde

England, 1851. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive – one that will give both him and his children honor and fame.

United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper and fights an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation.

China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident – and is kept in the dark about his whereabouts and condition – she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him.

Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins these three very different narratives into one gripping and thought provoking story that is just as much about the powerful relationships between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.

Maja Lunde is a Norwegian author and screenwriter. Lunde has written ten books for children and young adults. She has also written scripts for Norwegian television, including for the children’s series Barnas supershow (“The Children’s Super Show”), the drama series Hjem (“Home”) and the comedy series Side om Side (“Side by Side”). The History of Bees is her first novel for adults. She lives with her husband and three children in Oslo.

The Red-Haired Woman
Orhan Pamuk

A virtuosic and spell-binding novel from Orhan Pamuk – the Nobel Prize-winner’s tenth novel.

“Many years have now gone by, and jealousy compels me to keep her name a secret, even from my readers. But I must provide a full and truthful account of what happened.”

It is mid-1980s Istanbul and Master Mahmut and his apprentice use ancient methods to dig wells – they are desperate to find water in a barren land. This is the tale of their struggle, but it is also a deeper investigation – through mesmerising stories and images – into Pamuk’s prevailing themes: fathers and sons, the state and individual freedom, reading and seeing.

It is also a richly literary work: The Red-Haired Woman borrows from the tradition of the French conte philosophique and asks probing questions of ethics and of the role of art in our lives. It is both a short, realist text investigating a murder which took place thirty years ago near Istanbul – and a fictional inquiry into the literary foundations of civilizations, comparing two fundamental myths of the West and the East respectively: Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex (a story of patricide) and Ferdowsi’s tale of Rostam and Sohrab (a story of filicide).

The Red-Haired Woman is a masterful and mesmerising work which further confirms Orhan Pamuk as one of our greatest novelists.

Orhan Pamuk, is the author of many celebrated books, including The White Castle, Istanbul and Snow. In 2003 he won the International IMPAC Award for My Name is Red, and in 2006 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. His most recent novel, The Museum of Innocence, was an international bestseller and shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. Orhan Pamuk lives in Istanbul.

The Secret Books
Marcel Theroux

Nothing is more dangerous than a story

A world on the brink of catastrophe.

A two thousand year old mystery.

A lost gospel.

Seeking adventure, a young man flees the drudgery of shopkeeping in Tsarist Russia to make a new life among the bohemians and revolutionaries of 19th century Paris.

Travelling undercover in the mountains of British India, he discovers a manuscript that transforms the world’s understanding of the historical Jesus. Decades later, in a Europe threatened by unimaginable tragedy, he makes a despairing attempt to right a historic injustice.

This breathtaking novel by the award-winning author of Far North and Strange Bodies tells the extraordinary tale of Nicolas Notovitch and his secret gospel. It is the epic story of a young man on the make in a turbulent world of spies and double-cross, propaganda and revolutionary violence, lost love and nascent anti-semitism – a world which eerily foreshadows our own era of posttruth politics.

Based on real events, The Secret Books is at once a page-turning adventure and an examination of the stories that humans are willing to kill and die for.

Marcel Theroux is the author of four previous novels: The Paperchase, winner of the 2002 Somerset Maugham Award; A Blow to the Heart; Far North, which was shortlisted for America’s prestigious National Book Award; and Strange Bodies. He lives in London.

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