A Rainbow in the Night: The Tumultuous Birth of South Africa.

Position:Book review

Dominique Lapierre; A RAINBOW IN THE NIGHT: THE TUMULTUOUS BIRTH OF SOUTH AFRICA; Da Capo Press (History) $26.00 ISBN: 0306818477

The history of South Africa is largely the story of apartheidthe political subjugation and persecution of the non-white populationwhich became national policy in 1948 but which had its roots in Hollands colonial presence. The Dutch settlers who arrived in 1651 soon cut their ties to Holland and took the name Afrikaners. They believed they were biblically ordained to rule the indigenous population: in 1658 they slaughtered the Khoi nomads and soon after the Xhosa tribe. Thus began more than three centuries of brutality that did not end until 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected the first president of a united South Africa.

Lapierre the distinguished author and co-author of eleven previous books including Is Paris Burning?: How Paris Miraculously Escaped Adolph Hitlers Sentence of Death in August 1944 and City of Joy acknowledges that he has not written a comprehensive account of South Africa. What he offers is a short very readable and sometimes moving narrative of the events and people who have brought disgrace and fame to the country.

The first half of the book describes the Afrikaner rise culminating in the bloody Boer War (1899-1902) in which 33000 Afrikaners were killed by the British and the Afrikaner states were absorbed into the Commonwealth. Four years later Great Britains Liberal party swept...

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