Anatomy of a Miracle

Anatomy of a Miracle

3.75 (28 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

The peaceful birth of black majority rule in South Africa was a transcendent moment. Many South Africans believe this negotiated revolution to be a miracle: at the very least it was a feat of political magic. One false step along the way could have ignited the race war that had been widely predicted as South Africa's destiny. Patti Waldmeir's colorful and incisive narrative begins with the birth of apartheid itself, and traces the very human drama that brought about its demise. It is the story of a grand seduction, a study in the psychology of capitulation, which ends with the inauguration of the world's most famous prisoner as president of a new country, and the creation of a new, rainbow nation. The author was present at nearly every critical moment during the endgame of apartheid, and we see all the principal actors - Nelson Mandela, F. W. de Klerk, Chief Buthelezi, and the militants of the extreme right - through the eyes of a journalist who knows them personally. She captures the good sense and the violence of these times, and illuminates the forces of history, economics, demographics, and morality that shaped the human drama. Few journalists have known South Africa so long or so well as Patti Waldmeir. This book draws on her conversations with presidents past and present and on her eyewitness accounts of township violence, guerrilla actions, and brutal "necklaces." She reports from inside a political process without precedent, in which both blacks and whites have achieved their liberation.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 20mm | 238g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • illustrations, chronology, index
  • 0140249419
  • 9780140249415

Review Text

A vividly reported, brilliantly analyzed account of apartheid's demise. From their country's earliest days to the apartheid era, white South Africans have shown a perverse genius for making bad historical choices. But from the 1980s on, when the stakes were at their very highest, everything suddenly changed, and the country began to act with a creative and inclusive sense of destiny. Perhaps not since the American Revolution has such a remarkable transformation been accomplished by so many remarkable individuals. As the Johannesburg bureau chief for the Financial Times, Waldmeir was at the very center of the action. As a purely journalistic account of what happened, of why apartheid - which seemed so entrenched, so culturally immovable - crumbled away, this book is exceptional. She has talked to all the players, from F. W. de Klerk to Nelson Mandela, right down to the lowliest cabinet officials, and she has personally covered all the big stories. Waldmeir has a pitch-perfect understanding of the forces working to end apartheid, and this helps take her account far beyond mere journalism. She believes that apartheid ultimately fell not because of sanctions or ANC actions, but because it forced the Afrikaner leadership into an inescapable moral contradiction. They thought apartheid's separate-but-equal policy was - "however perverse," she notes - a wonderful, even beautiful, moral idea. But separation never worked, and equal was constantly perjured by naked racism. The only way out of this quandary was to abjure the ideal. No one thought de Klerk would be the man to do it. No one thought the ANC would control negotiations so completely. Few thought that the process would be as relatively smooth and harmonious as it proved to be. With Mandela's inauguration as president in 1994, Waldmeir writes, "one of the great psychological transformations of the twentieth century was complete. . . . It was a magical moment in the history of the human spirit." Waldmeir's account will be cited and debated for years to come. A notable achievement. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Table of contents

Apartheid agonistes: the myth of the Monolith; the age of contradictions; to the Rubicon, and beyond. Part 2 Negotiated revolution: the great seduction; secret mission; why the Boers gave it all away; the great leap; Siamese twins; the third man ... and the third force; rollercoaster revolution; the darkest hour; the end of history; battling for the right; bake bread not slogans. Part 3 Life after apartheid: now for the hard part.show more

Rating details

28 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 21% (6)
4 39% (11)
3 32% (9)
2 7% (2)
1 0% (0)
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