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A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 004-6442211895
ISBN-10: 0618211896
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

More focused than most books about South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), this searing account is by a psychologist who grew up in the black townships and who served on the TRC under Archbishop Tutu. She brings you close to the horrific testimony about what apartheid's perpetrators did, and also to what Tutu called "holy" scenes of forgiveness by victims' families. But at the center are her personal prison interviews with Eugene de Kock, who directed "the blood, the bodies and the killing" against apartheid's enemies. Does he feel remorse? Can Gobodo-Madikizela feel empathy for him? Demonizing him as monster, as hopelessly other, lets him--and us--off too easily, she maintains. The elemental issues about perpetrators, victims, and bystanders stretch back to the Holocaust and will spark intense discussion. How can apartheid Prime Minister De Klerk say his hands were clean? What about the majority of whites who say they didn't know? No easy answers, just the hope embodied in the TRC that cycles of political violence can be broken and that there are alternatives to revenge. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

PUMLA GOBODO-MADIKIZELA served on the Human Rights Violations Committee of South Africa’s great national experiment in healing, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She lectures internationally on issues of reconciliation.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (January 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618211896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618211890
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #477,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is not only a great reference for studying forgiveness and conflict resolution, as other reviewers have suggested, but also for anyone looking for an understanding of apartheid and post-apartheid in South Africa. I purchased this book as a student of human rights law, and found it incredibly helpful in detailing background and implementation of such law in South Africa. A good choice for a student or for entertainment.
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Format: Hardcover
I was extremely fortunate to hear Ms. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela present her book on booktv on December 7, 2003. I strongly urge you who are reading this amazon comment to seek her out and go to listen to her if she is speaking anywhere near your area. Read this book by one of the world's most remarkable women and a true seeker of peace. Judge Albie Sachs also spoke in conjunction with Dr. Gobodo-Madikizela's book presentation and I would encourage the reader to seek him out as well. These two are truly exceptional human beings.
BOOKTV description of the presentation:
A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness
from March 9, 2003
From John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio, South African activist Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela discusses her book "A Human Being Died That Night." A psychologist, Ms. Gobodo-Madikizela had many conversations with Eugene de Kock, the former commanding officer of the apartheid police squads. De Koch, whose nicknames include "Dr. Death" and "Prime Evil," is currently serving 212 years in prison for crimes against humanity. Much of the book is set during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings, during which both the perpetrators and their victims were given the right to be heard. Ms. Gobodo-Madikizela suggests that the TRC hearings may not have produced complete reconciliation, but the validation the victims received and the absolution they subsequently offered was therapeutic and necessary for the creation of the new democracy. Albie Sachs, a judge with the Constitutional Court of South Africa joins Ms. Gobodo-Madikizela. This program is hosted by Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit educational organization that encourages an interdisciplinary approach to teaching history by relating it to the daily experiences of the students.
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Format: Hardcover
Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela's encounter with Eugene De Kock, known as South Africa's "Prime Evil" of the apartheid system-- tested her boundaries for forgiveness and compassion. It is an essential text for anyone interested in learning how--after traumatic events--it is possible to transcend feelings of revenge and move on.
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Format: Hardcover
It's a pity more of our current political leaders aren't reading books such as this one. Forgiveness, open hearts, the space to grow - how can this be anything but good? I heard Gobodo-Madikizela on NPR, inspiring me to read her book. It's amazing. I'd recommend it highly.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most powerful books I've read on the power of forgiveness and what it means to be human. I highly, highly recommend it.
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