Rivonia's Children

Rivonia's Children : Three Families and the Price of Freedom in South Africa

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Description

This is the harrowing and inspiring account of a handful of white Jewish activists who risked their lives to combat apartheid when South Africa plunged into an era of darkness in the 1960s from which it has only recently emerged.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 30mm | 320g
  • Orion Publishing Co
  • Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0753810999
  • 9780753810996

Review Text

The author of an erudite look at politics in Israel (Beyond the Promised Land, 1994) uses the stories of three Jewish families to dramatize the history of the struggle for racial equality in South Africa. Frankel chronicles the watershed event of the police raid in Rivonia, a white suburb of Johannesburg, in 1963 to tell the history of the antiapartheid straggle forward and backward. Afterward, Rusty Bernstein and Nelson Mandela and myriad others were tried for treason, and imprisoned, and the struggle went underground. The regime became fascist and brutal. And yet there had been a time, shortly after WWII, when Communists such as Hilda and Rusty Bernstein and liberals such as Alan Paton could join in their hopes for the kind of peaceful racial solutions that eventually won over in the US. Before Rivonia, the Bernsteins, Ruth and Joe First, Harold and AnnMarie Wolpe, and dozens of other white Jewish radicals lived prosperous middle-class lives similar to white American suburbanites of the time. Frankel tells the story of their fight against apartheid, but he also tells of what happened to these families - broken, in many ways, by the struggle. The Bernstein children, whom their parents shielded from their radicalism, were nevertheless traumatized by their parents' eventual imprisonment. Ruth First, the movement's seemingly indomitable voice for women, was eventually killed by a bomb from the secret police. And in what may be the most archetypal story of them all, AnnMarie Wolpe, a virtual bystander though her husband was a leading activist, was caught up in the terrible repression, as she tried to hold her family together. Portraits of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and dozens of others emerge, but Frankel's true interests lie with these family casualties. A superb recounting of one of the less well-known parts of the battle against apartheid. (Kirkus Reviews)

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About Glenn Frankel

Glenn Frankel was bureau chief in South Africa for The Washington Post in 1983 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for international reporting. He is the author of Beyond the Promised Land and lives in Virginia, US.

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