Crais, Clifton, and Thomas V. McClendon, eds. "The South Africa Reader: History, Culture, Politics."(Book review)

Author:Zentella, Yoly

Crais, Clifton, and Thomas V. McClendon, eds. The South Africa Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.

The South Africa Reader: History, Culture, Politics is a collection of over eighty primary and secondary sources divided into eight chapters that describe the complex history and culture of South Africa since the initial period of European contact at the end of the fifteenth century. Although the first Europeans to enter the area were the Portuguese, it was the Dutch and English merchants who arrived in the seventeenth century who had a more profound impact. The book's editors, Clifton Crais, a Professor of History at Emory University, and Thomas V. McClendon, a Professor of History at Southwestern University, have put together a comprehensive narrative that describes early colonial settlements, native descriptions of servitude, mining and farming practices, exploitation of native labor, native uprisings, the Boer War, the end of Apartheid, and efforts toward national reconciliation. Not only is it a collection addressing various eras and events, but it also provides a fundamental understanding of the country, a panorama over time presented through first-person recollections, commentaries, photographs, and graphics based on sources published primarily in Europe, South Africa, and the United States.

According to the editors, "Acknowledging the country's diversity is essential for developing a deeper appreciation of its history, culture, and politics. Large areas of South Africa were similar to other parts of British colonial Africa" (p. 5). British colonial officials governed local African populations through a system of indirect rule that utilized the cooperation of traditional African chiefs and leaders. Other areas of South Africa, however, had a very different colonial experience, which was dramatically altered by the presence of large numbers of European settlers. For example, the Western Cape region prior to European colonization was settled by Khoesan-speaking peoples. According...

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