news analysis advocacy
AfricaFocus Bookshop
New Gift CDs
China & Africa
tips on searching

Search AfricaFocus and 9 Partner Sites



Visit the AfricaFocus
Country Pages

Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central Afr. Rep.
Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo (Kinshasa)
Côte d'Ivoire
Equatorial Guinea
São Tomé
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Sudan
Western Sahara

Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail! | on your newsreader!

Print this page

South Africa: 30+ New Books

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Dec 15, 2009 (091215)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

The most popular of these new books from and about South Africa is undoubtedly that by John Carlin on Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, now available in two editions as well as in the newly released Clint Eastwood movie. But probably the one most in need of greater international attention is the one edited by Tawana Kupe and colleagues - Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa. This photographic and analytic portrayal of the xenophobic violence of 2008 poses fundamental questions about the shape of today's South Africa.

Also listed below are a wide range of other recent books which struck me as ones I would like to read (if I had the time and money for all of them). But I'm sure AfricaFocus readers can name more recent books that I should have included. If so, just send a note to me at, and I'll add them to the web version of this Bulletin.

For earlier book suggestions and CDs, other bulletins in the last year include:

Gift Music CDs

New Books 2009

Gift Books Issue 2008

Gift Music CDs Issue 2008

For a much wider range, including selected African countries and topics, visit the AfricaFocus Bookshop home page at or

Books on specific African countries can be found under the regional pages: or or or or or

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

New Books from and about South Africa

Iris Berger, South Africa in World History
The most recent overview of South African history, in a little more than 200 pages, nevertheless brings the story up to date and connects history with today's issues.

Anthony Butler, Cyril Ramaphosa
Kadel Asmal says this biography "sheds light on the life and thought on this most enigmatic and popular national leader," who was sidelined by internal conflicts in the ANC.

John Carlin, Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation
The latest version, tied to new Clint Eastwood movie based on the book

John Carlin, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation
The drama of rugby and race in the transition from apartheid

David Catling, An Elusive Harvest: Working with Smallholder Farmers in South Africa
The strengths and weaknesses of the non-governmental Land Development Unit, which aimed at supporting disadvantaged farmers. Written by the leader of the group, which pioneered participatory methods beginning in the early 1990s but went out of existence in 2004.

Okwui Enwezor et al., Home Lands-Land Marks: Contemporary Art from South Africa
Focuses on seven contemporary South African artists - David Goldblaat, Nicholas Hlobo, William Kentridge, Vivienne Koorland, Santu Mofokeng, Berni Searlie, and Guy Tillim.

Mark Gevisser, A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the Future of the South African Dream
Charlayne Hunter-Gault says "no one better explains [Mbeki], how he got that way, and how it affected his place in the history of South Africa - old and new - than Mark Gevisser."

Jeremy Gordin, Zuma: A Biography
Unauthorized biography. Publisher says it is "immensely readable and, like its subject, highly controversial."

Pippa Green, Choice, Not Fate: Biography of Trevor Manuel
"Unlike many political biographies, it's also an exciting read." - Mail & Guardian

Carolyn Hamilton, Bernard Mbenga, Robert Ross, eds., The Cambridge History of South Africa, volume 1, from Early Times to 1885
In addition to the editors, chapter authors include John Parkington, Simon Hall, John Wright, Martin Legassick, Norman Etherington, and Paul Landau

Paul Holden, The Arms Deal in Your Pocket
376 pages would require a fairly big pocket, but the post-apartheid arms deal has so many ramifications in South African politics that it well deserves this detailed account.

David Hostetter, Movement Matters: American Antiapartheid Activism and the Rise of Multicultural Politics
Covers the role of the American Committee on Africa, TransAfrica, and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). While there are a number of works that include the first two organizations, this is one of the few that highlights the important role of the AFSC.

Peter Kagwanja, An Encumbered Regional Power: The Capacity Gap in South Africa's Peace Diplomacy in Africa
"The main focus of this publication is the link between South Africa's grand pan-African ambitions, especially in the area of peace, security and governance, and its own capacity to pursue these objectives." - from publisher's description

Antjie Krog, Nosisi Mpolweni, and Kopano Ratele, There was This Goat: Investigating the Truth Commission Testimony of Notrose Nobomvu Konile
An in-depth exploration of the different dimensions of one case, by the renowned author of Country of My Skull and two collaborators.

Tawana Kupe, ed., Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa
This work includes photographs and a range of analytical essays and journalistic accounts of the violence that erupted in 2008 in particular against "foreign Africans" in South Africa. The authors, as did the events, pose fundamental questions about the character of "post-apartheid" society.

Premesh Lalu, The Deaths of Hintsa: Post-Apartheid South Africa and the Shape of Recurring Pasts
This work features both history and the critical examination of how history is done in the present as well as the past.

Nelson Mandela Foundation and Umlando Wezithombe, Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book
Takes the ever-growing genre of works about Madiba into another genre.

Deon Meyer, Blood Safari
The latest novel by South Africa's leading post-apartheid mystery writer to be translated from Afrikaans. If you like good mystery novels and thrillers with a nuanced view of society, don't miss this one featuring bodyguard Martin Lemmer, or Meyer's series with Cape Town detective Benny Griessel.

Thando Mgqolozana, A Man Who is Not a Man
Novel about aftermath of a botched initiation in Eastern Cape, culture, stereotypes, and courage.

Kgebetli Moele, Room 207
Novel about a group of friends surviving in an apartment block in Hillbrow, Johannesburg.

Jeanette Ndhlovu, No Time to Mourn
The autobiography of long-time anti-apartheid activist Jeanette Ndhlovu, now completing his term in Los Angeles as South African Consul General. Her next post will be South African Ambassador to Ghana. The book tells her story, from Soweto to the University of Missouri to the South African mission to the UN.

Vasu Reddy, Theo Sandfort, and Laetitia Rispel, eds., From Social Silence to Social Science: Same-sex Sexuality, HIV & AIDS and Gender in South Africa
An edited collection summarizing current state of knowledge, from the Human Sciences Research Council.

Alec Russell, After Mandela (in U.S., Bring Me My Machine Gun)
[This book] "stands as an informative, nuanced, and provocative end-of-era report. ..[but] although Russell would agree that the ANC was always more than one man, even when Mandela was at its head, his emphasis is on the leader rather than the organization." - Gillian Slovo

Jeff Sallaz, The Labor of Luck: Casino Capitalism in the United States and South Africa
It's not about Wall Street (though it might be) and it's not by an economist - it's about real casinos and it's by a sociologist. But I'll wager you'll be able to find some similarities.

Vladimir Shubin, ANC: A View from Moscow
Shubin relies both on personal experience and on careful research to put together his sober analysis of facts and myths. This second edition makes this widely acclaimed book newly available. Shubin is also the author of The 'Hot' Cold War, which similarly recounts the regional dimension of Soviet involvement with African liberation struggles (

Melissa Steyn, Mikki van Zyl, eds., The Prize and the Price: Shaping Sexualities in South Africa
432-page edited collection from the Human Sciences Research Council

Sharlene Swartz & Arvin Bhana, Teenage Tata: Voices of Young Fathers in South Africa
Based on interviews in townships around Cape Town and Durban, from the Social Sciences Research Council,

Hakan Thorn, Anti-Apartheid and the Emergence of a Global Civil Society
Swedish sociologist compares the anti-apartheid movements in Great Britain and Sweden.

Sue Williamson, South African Art Now
Forty years of art history, by the founding editor of

Jeff Zapiro, Da Zuma Code
Eleventh annual collection of Zapiro cartoons from the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, and Sowetan

Jeff Zapiro, The Mandela Files
Cartoons of Mandela, from the 1980s to the present, along with background narrative.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see