Charles Yeats had a privileged upbringing as a White South African in the late 1970's and early 80's, and seemed destined to remain one of the social elite. However he felt increasingly uncomfortable with the Apartheid regime and moved to London to escape military service at home. Later he returned to face inevitable arrest as a conscientious objector. He was court martialled and sentenced to the now well-known Detention Barracks, where he refused to wear military uniform, and was put in solitary confinement five times. All this led to an unprecedented second court martial and a further year's incarceration in the notorious Pretoria Central Prison. During this period he was adopted by Amnesty International as one of their Prisoners of Conscience. After his release (in February 83) he studied Theology at Oxford and today teaches at Durham University. He also advises corporations on their social, environmental and moral responsibilities. 'Prisoner of Conscience' is a fascinating slice of history from one man who lived it in the front line.
But, much more than that, given his experiences in southern Africa as well as his contemporary concerns, the author also makes trenchant comments about Western imperialism, and the way the Church (the Anglican one in particular) is losing the opportunity to show us that love and friendship offer the only way forward to a lasting peace.
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(223mm x 142mm x 21mm)
Rider & Co
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
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US Kirkus Review »
A South African priest recalls his experiences under apartheid while also highlighting his progressive views on diverse issues.With his privileged upbringing, which included a stint at the exclusive English school Harrow, Yeats (Veritatis Splendor, 1995) could have easily slipped into a quiet, fulfilling life as a priest. Being quiet clearly never appealed to him, as he vividly illustrates here, though there's no question that he found great fulfillment. In this memoir, Yeats slowly allows his remarkable life story to unfold while peppering the text with his closely held beliefs. As he recalls the events that led to his imprisonment in South Africa, which included an unexpected moment of prayer with the arresting officers just before they whisked him off to jail, Yeats also introduces us to his worldview, decidedly radical for a man of the church. Sex is not just for procreation, but something to be enjoyed by everyone, he believes, neatly weaving this conviction into the narrative by recalling his nascent fumblings with future wife Alison, the love of his life. (He also offers some interesting thoughts on homosexuality, both in society and within the Catholic Church.) The majority of these pages, however, concern his incarceration at the hands of the South African authorities for refusing to perform military service during the country's apartheid era. Even here, Yeats is full of surprises, seemingly preferring the time he spent in solitary confinement to his tenure at Pretoria Central Prison, where he encountered some colorful and hair-raising characters. Yeats also examines societal changes in post-apartheid South Africa before concluding with a summation of his unique interpretation of Christian values.Many well-written insights into how one captivating man's mind works. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Charles Yeats
Born and brought up in Basutoland and South Africa during the Apartheid years, Charles Yeats now lives in Durham where he is a fellow in Business and Society at the University of Durham and also the Director of an organization called 'Durham Ethics'. He lives in Durham with his wife and two children, and also in the Yorkshire Dales.