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My Traitor's Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience Paperback – March 9, 2000
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From Library Journal
- Maidel Cason, Univ. of Delaware Lib., Newark
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The passages on Creina Alcock, a 'white' South African who stepped far away from her background to live as a Zulu are are especially poignant, even stunning. I visited Creina in her remote hut on the strength of this book and was astonished by her courage and wisdom. Rian captures this extraordinary story in a moving if (for the average reader?) pessimistic way
This book has universalist insights for anyone interested in whether Civilisations really do Clash. Rian Malan was on to something very profound in this book. It is vivid and appalling in places, and not always easy reading. So what? These issues are as difficult as anything we face. Read it, lots of times.
The book is divided into 3 sections. In the first, Malan describes his own childhood and adolescence, leading up to his forced flight from South Africa, with a major focus on his youthful love for Blacks (especially in the abstract). The second part of the book details a number of violent murders that Malan investigated upon his return to South Africa in 1986 to write this book. In this section, Malan describes the intense violence that was occurring in South Africa at the time, and how all Whites, even doctors providing humanitarian services in the townships, became targets for Black rage. He also explores violence between rival Black political groups. In the closing section, Malan visits a White woman named Creina Alcock, who lived on the border of Msanga, a tribal homeland, where she and her husband had struggled to build a sustainable rural development project with the local Blacks. The woman was widowed after her husband was killed while trying to negotiate peace talks during a tribal disturbance in Msanga.
The book doesn't have a strong narrative thread- -instead it seems that Malan was trying to communicate some of his own confusion and ambivalence about racial questions by presenting so many stories and sides of the picture, and flipping rapidly from one to the next.Read more ›
But all this is completely irrelevant. As is clearly stated in the extended title, this is the story of one man's journey though his own past and conscience. On this level, it is a triumph. It is the only book I have ever read that doesn't seem to include a single divisive word. Whether you agree with Malan's observations or not, I think it is clear that he agonized over and believed deeply in every one. Additionally, the book is beautifully written on almost every level: smooth, engaging prose, balanced structure, and unfailing pace. It is almost impossible for the reader not be affected in one way or another.
It has been asked whether this book is still relevant in light of the fall of Apartheid and the progression of S.A. in the years since its publication.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Astonishingly well-written and heartfelt - the Black Lamb and Grey Falcon of South Africa. Highly troubling, deeply moving, excoriatingly honest.Published 7 days ago by Helen Atkinson
A very nice book. Fills in some gaps in my understanding of the history of southern Africa. Not a short book. The book has many lengthy stories, too many and too long. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Andy
A remarkable book. As an Afrikaner it made me cringe at times,high fived myself at other times. Malan is a big time liberal but even he had to admit that the SA situation was not... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
A bit long but well written and sincere. Paints a beautiful description of the landscape of South Africa both human and politicalPublished 13 months ago by Deborah S Greco
True, raw, blunt, personal and excellent context. I need to find more South Africa books just like this. Gripping non-fiction is the best!Published 15 months ago by Heather Louise Yorkston
I saw this book recommended after Mandela's death, and I am thankful to whoever it was that brought it to my attention. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Joanne E. Taylor
This book is a fascinating journey through the author's family and its role in the apartheid system of South Africa, written in a style so descriptive you can almost smell the dust... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Anne-Marie
Having lived in Southern Africa through the 70's and 80's, with considerable time spent in South Africa itself, I felt I had experienced much of what the Apartheid system had done... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Neil Hutchinson
This is a page turner, describing the horrors of apartheid, both white on black violence as well as black on black violence and white on white violence. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Catherine