From Publishers Weekly
In one of the best recent books on South Africa, an American vividly recalls his experiences as a white teacher of black students near Cape Town and intersperses more detached descriptions of what was going on under apartheid. Finnegan wanted attentive, disciplined students at the same time that he encouraged in them a radical skepticism, a critical, independent habit of mind, a combative approach to all forms of vested authority. He tried to counsel his students to aim high and work hard, and he often met with hostility. Within that one year, he became acutely aware of how rapidly they were becoming more active in boycotts and protests and forming an essential element of a growing revolutionary movement. He shows how the Afrikaners' hatred for African children has led to bloody massacres and how their fear is an unspoken, unconscious recognition that communal violence is retribution for the countless blacks killed and maimed over the years. A final section describing Finnegan's long hitch-hiking trip with a bitter, white-hating, 18-year-old black woman beautifully shows the apartheid situation in microcosm.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"An articulate and sensitive writer, Finnegan conveys the texture of life under apartheid more effectively than even the ablest newspaper reporters." -- Leonard Thompson, New York Review of Books
"How does it happen that the main combatants in the struggle against the South African race state are children? In Crossing the Line we have a powerful and responsible testimony illuminating that question and others that flow from it. This may be the best book to give to an American trying for the first time to understand the agony of South Africa." -- Norman Rush, New York Times Book Review
"Standing apart from much of the emotive literature that has been written about this tortured country, Crossing the Line is a revealing and important account." -- Peter Markovitz, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Young Americans could find no better introduction to South Africa than this captivating memoir: the education of William Finnegan, a highly articulate and thoughtful California surfer who taught for a year at a Coloured high school outside Cape Town and hitchhiked around the country. Remarkably, there also emerges an account of the 1980 school boycotts and the complexities of black thinking about resistance that makes the book an original work of value to the academic specialist." -- Foreign Affairs