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Bring Me My Machine Gun: The Battle for the Soul of South Africa, from Mandela to Zuma Hardcover – April 13, 2009
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“A vivid portrait of post-apartheid South Africa, briskly depicting the dramas of a young nation and the telling threats to its future.”
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2009
“Financial Times world news editor Russell offers a cogent study of the political perils ensnaring South Africa since the fall of apartheid…. An important dispatch from a journalist in the trenches.”
Booklist, review 4/15
“In open, journalistic style, Russell looks in depth and detail at the stalled dream of peace and reconciliation…. This is exciting contemporary history, a must for anyone concerned with what is happening now.”
Gillian Slovo, Financial Times, 4/4
“Bring Me My Machine Gun, layered with anecdote, historical background and close scrutiny of recent events, stands as an informative, nuanced, and provocative end-of-era report…. A valuable contribution to the debate about the future of the rainbow nation. Alec Russell has looked at the country with a sympathetic and knowledgeable eye and he leaves his reader with a deep understanding of the challenges to come.”
“Sweeping, up-to-date…. Russell offers an acute look at the remarkable period when apartheid unraveled and a new political system under the African National Congress (ANC) took shape…. A compelling, bracing chronicle of the 15-year campaign to make the promise of 1994 a reality.”
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Top Customer Reviews
In Bring Me My Machine Gun Financial Times journalist Alec Russell skillfully chronicles the new struggle underway in South Africa: that of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to deliver on its democratic promise and avoid the tragic trend of African liberation movements--and dominant political parties from Mexico to India--of descending into corrupt, stagnant, and ultimately dysfunctional states.
In this way, Bring Me My Machine Gun echoes Andrew Feinstein's After the Party, an inside account of the ANC's disastrous arms deal, and Justin Arenstein's exhaustive 2004 investigative report on corruption in South Africa. If, as Arenstein writes, the ongoing saga symbolizes "a painful dissection of the South African psyche," Russell's book is a timely travelogue of this trauma.
On April 22, just two weeks after narrowly escaping prosecution for corruption, Jacob Zuma will take the world stage as President of the Republic of South Africa. The question is whether this marks the beginning or end of the ongoing battle for the country's democratic soul--a complex battle which Russell covers with great depth and detail, borrowing heavily from the insights and high-level sources acquired during his two tours as a foreign correspondent in South Africa.
"Building a new society out of the rubble of an unjust system is invariably an ugly and harsh process," concludes Russell. "But fifteen years into their task, the time for excusing the ANC is over." As it eventually came to do of the apartheid regime, the world must hold the ANC accountable before it's too late.Read more ›
South Africa has made great strides in overcoming apartheid. However it now has to stop the overwhelming violent crime to satisfy its population. Political corruption and mismanagement has to be controlled. Finally, employment and a fair share for the nation's resources has to be distributed to the nation's population.
Russell details the evolving nature of South Africa's political future. It has moved forward, but more needs to be done. This is a nice read for a country that is a model for the rest of Africa.
Be sure to read Meredith's "Diamonds, Blood and War" to learn how the events of just 40 years since the discovery of diamonds shaped the country.
Alec Russel was a correspondent of the London Financial Times, who first come to South Africa in 1994 and whose interviews and on-the-spot reports makes his one of the more illuminating of the books named above. His focus, not surprisingly, is on the economics of the current transition process and he presents much in the way of statistical evidence to bolster his arguments. In the end, he can be described as a "pessimist". His "solutions" to some of South Africa's economic woes may be summed up by a 'social liberal' philosophy where a 'regulated market' predominates.
At the onset of 'Liberation/Freedom", a new African kleptocracy was being born while "Die Stem" was still hanging in the air! The rest is history, as they say. Sleaze, undercover operations and character assinations (and 'real' ones) became part of the ANC's modus operandi in power. "Ideology" and the once professed goals of poverty amelioration and a "Better Life for All" (ANCs election slogan of 1994), was soon pushed aside as monetary "self-interest", or plain "greed", took its place as an (African) nationalist bourgeoisie was simply replacing an old (Afrikaner) nationalist bourgeoisie at the helm of the state.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A balanced view of South African politics and politicians from Mandela forward. It gave me a much greater understanding of the people and the forces that shape South African... Read morePublished on May 16, 2014 by judithkendall
Highly recommended for any new comer to recent South African politics. A considered work from a knowledgeable journalist. Eager to read his thoughts on the last four years.Published on November 20, 2013 by Doug Wilson
This is a remarkable story of a country with enormous potential if the people find a way to learn from other 20th century revolutions.Published on February 21, 2013 by PatrickinPA
This book gives a great background of the current problems facing South Africa. Russel left no stone unturned in his research for this!Published on December 13, 2011 by Jay
Russell creates a great template for understanding South Africa since 1994. The book is a bit newsy -- Russell has been a frequent journalist covering South Africa -- but it... Read morePublished on June 26, 2011 by J. Smallridge
As a South African Ex-pat, it was great to read, it brought me up to speed on the goings on that the news never reports. I Love it!Published on March 31, 2010 by Rosy
I'm only 21 years old, so it seems like apartheid is ancient history. This book reveals that it is most definitely not. Read morePublished on August 23, 2009 by C. Hall
It's so refreshing to read a well-written book from a person who had access to everyone he needed to talk with to tell a story that was worth telling. This is that book. Read morePublished on July 23, 2009 by Don McGowan