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The first free elections in South Africa's history were held in 1994. Within a year legislation was drafted to create a Truth and Reconcilliation Commission to establish a picture of the gross human rights violations committed between 1960 and 1993. It was to seek the truth and make it known to the public and to prevent these brutal events ever happening again. From 1996 and over the following two years South Africans were exposed almost daily to revelations about their traumatic past. Antije Krog's full account of the Commission's work using the testimonies of the oppressed and oppressors alike is a harrowing and haunting book in which the voices of ordinary people shape the course of history. WINNER OF SOUTH AFRICA'S SUNDAY TIMES ALAN PATON AWARD

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099289791
ISBN-10: 0099289792
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 29mm)
Pages: 464
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 4-Nov-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » When the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up in 1995, its detractors thought that it was merely a convenient way to wash away the terrible, brutal history of apartheid. However, this powerful, disturbing and honest story of the Commission's work is an amazing testament to its purpose: the awful, personal stories of pain and guilt reveal a history which could never have come to light amid prosecutions and recriminations. Krog, an award-winning journalist and poet, gives us a passionate insight into the heart of South Africa. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » This searing examination is a compelling achievement that considers the nature of guilt, shame, and forgiveness in post-apartheid South Africa, yet also sometimes feels exactly like what it is - a series of clumsily stitched-together news reports. For more than two years, South African radio reporter and esteemed poet Krog covered the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's investigations into crimes committed on all sides in the name of apartheid. Headed by the Nobel Prize-winning Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the commission held out the promise of complete amnesty, but only in return for complete honesty about each and every offense. Hearings were held all around the country, with victims and their families able to confront their torturers. The testimony was painfully riveting, and Krog includes vast, uninterpolated swaths of accounts of bombings, beatings, rapes, and murder squads. She details expertly the effects of such terrible revelations on white South Africans, most of whom had never thought (or wanted to think) about the true cost of sustaining apartheid; what had once seemed to them like standard-issue authoritarianism eventually was viewed as unmitigated evil, reminiscent of nothing so much as Nazi Germany. Although the Truth Commission itself has been criticized for a relatively lenient treatment of the African National Congress, Krog is not blind to the anti-apartheid opposition's own multifarious brutalities. However, she is so focused on the particularities and intricacies of the South African experience that many general readers will find substantial chunks of this book somewhat inaccessible, despite a concluding glossary of South African terms and brief bios. Krog's poetic and reportorial gifts often serve her well - her lapidary profundity and keen-edged analysis are frequently superb. Still, she fails to craft them into a sustained or focused narrative. Like the truth itself, a messy, imposing sprawl. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Antjie Krog

Antjie Krog was born in 1952 in Kroonstad, a town in the Free State province of South Africa. She has published eight volumes of poetry, several of which have been translated into European languages and have won international prizes. Reporting as Antjie Samuel, the author and her SABC radio team received the Pringle Award for excellence in journalism for reporting on the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission. Krog also won the Foreign Correspondents' Award for outstanding journalism for her articles on the Truth Commission. She went on to become parliamentary editor for SABC radio in 1997 and has since been appointed as an Extraordinary Professor in the Arts Faculty at the University of the Western Cape. Antjie Krog is married and is the mother of four children.

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