From Publishers Weekly
South African writer Paton (1903-1988) had a rich life and career beyond his bestseller, Cry the Beloved Country. In this authorized biography, the South African-born and educated Alexander, who teaches English at a university in Australia, does Paton justice. He traces the origins of Paton's drive and values to his harsh childhood and authoritarian father, untangles deceptions in Paton's autobiographical writings and ably weaves together Paton's troubled personal life and his career. He shows how Paton's 1948 classic grew out of his work as principal of Diepkloof, a reformatory for black youths, from 1935 to 1948, and how his principles were fostered by his association with the Anglican church. He describes Paton's frustrations as a leader of the small anti-apartheid Liberal Party from 1953 to 1968, his harassment by the government and his subsequent clashes with radicals willing to use violence to fight the state. While none of Paton's post-Cry writngs hit such a high mark, Alexander deems them "never less than good" and observes that Paton's liberal ideals and political moderation have proved "uncannily prophetic." A definitive work on an important writer and activist.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA?A valuable book that provides psychological and biographical insight into the man who is perhaps South Africa's most visionary writer. However, while this biography readily lends itself to research of specific topics and time periods, most readers will find it difficult to read just a single chapter. One of the most interesting sections chronicles Paton's time at Diepkloff Reformatory, which demonstrates how he was able to affect change. He replaced barbed wire and guards with education and instilled a feeling of self-worth in young offenders who had been society's rejects. This is an inspiring and entertaining portrait of someone who, according to Alexander, "hated the power-hungry, exercised intelligence, and had faith in the decency, tolerance and humanity of the common man."?Barbette Timperlake, R.E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.