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No Future Without Forgiveness

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  1,000 ratings  ·  96 reviews
The establishment of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a pioneering international event. Never had any country sought to move forward from despotism to democracy both by exposing the atrocities committed in the past and achieving reconciliation with its former oppressors. At the center of this unprecedented attempt at healing a nation has been Archbish...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 17th 2000 by Image (first published January 1st 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,972)
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Heather S. Jones
i am so glad this man is in our world! someone who is universally recognized to have done something so great for humanity by trumpeting reconciliation and forgiveness and brotherhood. his compassion is immense. he is the inspiration for the name of my first child -- it is men like this who make me hope.

some of my favorite snippets from the book:

"I would not know how to be a human being at all, except i learned this from other human beings. We are made for a delicate network of relationships, of...more
lizzie mcmanus
This book is brilliant - and a cornerstone for my senior thesis. Tutu's exploration of forgiveness is raw, unapologetic, and ultimately a beautiful confession of faith in the face of atrocity.
Jinna
Wow. There are some great people out in this world. I'll just leave a quote from the book that shows the spirit in which the TRC was created. It shows a bit of the cultural heart that South Africa has. They call it Ubuntu. It gives a glimpse into how God’s idea of justice is not retaliation, but reconciliation.

Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, “Yu, u nobunu.” Then you are g...more
Sarah Weisiger
This one was slow getting started for me, but somewhere around 100 pages it picked up. I think mostly I had some difficulty appreciating the voice of the author, which came off initially as a little european and distant. As the narrative moved into the substance of the work of the TRC, I began to appreciate more the long lead-up. The work described in this book sounds at times harrowing and deeply transformative, which makes this account all the more remarkable. Truly an interesting look into th...more
Joshua  Butler
who could say anything bad about tutu, and sure enough the book was great. to be honest the first 5 chapters or so were more autobiographical than i was intending to get into but it was still really good to hear more of his personal voice, but i was really impacted by the later chapters when he recounts the specific details of the truth & reconciliation commission: the stories of people owning up to the atrocities they had committed and being embraced by the country (and often their victims)...more
Elle
In this moving account of the difficult decisions made and obstacles faced in the establishment and implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Tutu shares his vision of restorative justice based on the process he witnessed and participated in, and still does, to heal South Africa from apartheid. A great book--a vision of peace, hope and love--and an explanation of the rationale behind the process given for both skeptics and supporters. He does look critically at the pr...more
Heidi
Hearing Archbishop Tutu speak in person at the 2006 World Council of Churches Assembly has to rank as one of the highlights of my life. He is an utterly remarkable man. And this book – this totally deserving of five stars book – tells a remarkable story.

Appointed by Nelson Mandela to be co-Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in South Africa following the transfer of power from the Nationalist Apartheid Government, Desmond Tutu writes in this book about the history leadi...more
Ron
Bishop Tutu is not a great writer. That's the only reason this book received four instead of five stars from me. In this book, Bishop Tutu tells the story of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission ofter Apartheid and during the first democratically elected government headed up by Nelson Mandela. I knew that the commission was hailed throughout the world as a new and promising effort to create a civil society out of what had been a barbaric system of oppression but I did not know how...more
Marc
Content-wise this is a five-star book about how South Africa chose to move on from their horrendous past of apartheid. Mainly it is a book about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was set-up to tackle the horrible truths of apartheid and to reconcile all South Africans together through the process of forgiveness. It is a book about the down-right evilness of apartheid and the stories that displayed such as well as stories of the down-right beauty of forgiveness that so many of the vict...more
Mel
When I started this book (somewhat blindly) I thought that it was going to be more about forgiveness as a philosophy and act in a general sense. However, it turned out that this book is a very detailed history of the end of apartheid and the Truth and Reconciliation Committee's birth, trials, and outcomes. That said, it did not diminish my feeling about the book. It was a very insightful and teaching look into something I knew very little about. I came away with a greater understanding of the ev...more
Christina
Oct 12, 2010 Christina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Christina by: Education Week Presenter
This book was part personal memoir & spiritual belief and part history. It is beautifully written - although a little wordy and repetitive - and Desmond Tutu is an inspiring man. This book gives details of the work he did while chairing the committee developed to help South Africa heal from the racial division that existed before Nelson Mandela was democratically elected. Tutu's religious background seemed to influence the way the committee worked in an interesting way. I found it interestin...more
Angie
Difficult to read at times, literally provoking a physical reaction within me. How privileged I am to sit on my comfy couch and read about the horrors experienced in South Africa with a weak stomach. Tutu writes of his involvment in South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Committee, whereby this country strived to expose the ugly events of its past and reconcile with its oppressors.

"Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human...It is t...more
Ali Al-Khalifa
South Africa’s peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy was achieved largely due to the efforts of men like Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This book describes the many challenges and achievements that he experienced while chairing the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The author makes a simple claim: forgiveness prevails over hatred and revenge. The situation in South Africa could have exploded into a bloody civil war if both white and black leaders had not wisely chosen reconcilia...more
Laura
Like many here I found that the book could have been better organised. But after the first chapters, I told myself who cares? Tutu is a preacher and repetitions are part and parcel of his profession's style. I can forgive him that. The message that this book carries is potent and at the same time incredible - ubuntu and forgiveness - whether you choose to accept it or not. i found the descriptions of the confessions of both the victims and perpetrators distressful, nightmarish and agonising to r...more
Rod White
May 21, 2008 Rod White rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who care
Recommended to Rod by: N.T. Wright
Desmond Tutu comes off as wonderfully normal for a Nobel Peace Prize winner! His story abut the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is heartbreaking and inspiring. It is heartreaking because apartheid was so awful and because people subverted the process of reconciliation demonstrated by the commission in one of the most amazing political acts in history. It is inspiring because they did it: they decided to install forgiveness as a governmental policy to prevent the retribution and w...more
Kelly
How do you heal a society rife with 50 years of race-based warfare, torture and atrocities? When the oppressed finally get their day in the sun, what option is there, other than vengeance?

But when Nelson Mandela was elected the president of South Africa after 24 years in prison as a terrorist, South Africa did not degenerate into the blood bath that everyone predicted. This book is the story of why not, and Desmond Tutu credits it all to the amazing power of God.

This is a map for reconciliation...more
Colleenish
I loved this book. Bishop Tutu advocates for South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Council. After apartheid, the country made the remarkable decision to give amnesty to anyone who would confess to the council. You can tell that this was controversial by his thoroughness with which Tutu defends it. But he believes it sincerely, insisting that the country cannot be whole without caring and restoring the perpetrators as well as the victims. It was a touching story, and one that he takes pains to...more
Virginia
teaching me a lot of vocab words! Loved his voice and explanation of this very touch time in South Africa. There was so much I didn't know. I was hoping for an autobiography of Bishop Tutu but this book is specifically about the Truth & Reconciliation movement of South Africa. The book left me profoundly shaken and contemplating the role of forgiveness on a national level and politics. There are so many places in the world where this model should be applied to break the cycle of violence (an...more
Kristen
I made it nearly half way through this book before having to set it aside. It was simply too difficult to read the personal accounts of the many atrocities suffered during the reign of apartheid. While I understand Tutu's message of forgiveness and reconciliation, at times I thought his narrative was rambling and he repeated himself. As a story, the message could have been improved by having a more concise theme. As a people, South Africans could be no better served than by Archbishop Desmond Tu...more
Jill
Wow, what an inspiration. I learned a lot about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as about Desmond Tutu. The way he thinks about things just cuts right to the heart of the matter; you're left with the impression that he never had a moment of moral uncertainty in his life. And his capacity to understand people and their actions in a larger social context is truly remarkable. Very inspiring. Also, incidentally, probably the most religious (Christian) book I have ever read that I felt...more
Catherine
I was surprisingly disappointed by this book. While every chapter touched upon the groundbreaking work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the book as a whole lacked a clear narrative arc, and was neither the personal memoir of chairing the commission, nor the insight into how to bring about healing among people of different faiths that I had wanted it to be. More than anything I felt Tutu was speaking to other Christians - appealing to, exhorting, chastening, and supportin...more
Leah
It took us so long to finish it, but Cassi and I both enjoyed reading this for our book partnership. It was both academic and spiritual, which I loved because it reminded me of my religious studies classes. I learned so much about South Africa and apartheid, which I admittedly knew next to nothing about before reading this book. I loved Desmond Tutu's voice - I would like to adopt him and Bill Cosby as my surrogate grandfathers. The stories of people affected by apartheid (both victims and perpe...more
UChicagoLaw
"In preparation for my first trip to South Africa, I've been reading a lot about that country. [One book that stands out is] Desmond Tutu's No Future Without Forgiveness, his memoir of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a fascinating and powerfully argued defense of the Commission and an account of all the difficulties they encountered in making it work. It gives reason for optimism that people divided by hatred and resentment can, at least sometimes, behave decently and reasonably." - Mar...more
Britlyn Husmann
While this book did a good job in conveying many episodic experiences relayed through the TRC, it was very poorly organized.
Whitney
Jul 05, 2007 Whitney rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Drew
Shelves: non-fiction
I think this was uplifting and positive, but it started to drag. Without many facts about apartheid, it mostly focused on the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in South Africa. By the end there was a lot of repetition. Tutu also sort of jumped into a debate about forgiveness and the holocaust that I need to consider more thoroughly. He was questioning the fact that many Jews don't want to forgive Nazi's for the holocaust, and feel unable to speak for the dead. I understand his position on the n...more
Doug
Most of the book consists of testimony from victims of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which he chaired. I didn't like reading the accounts of the atrocities because I found it too horrific and depressing, but the stories of reconciliation and the sheer capacity of peoples' capacity to forgive are really inspiring. People in any place where there is racial and sectarian tension should read this book because it gives hope that reconciliation is possible, even after something as divisive a...more
Katherine Harms
This book captivated me. I could hardly put it down. However, I was reading it on Kindle, and I had to highlight and annotate as I went. I couldn't make any progress. There was something thought-provoking on every page.
When I teach any sort of Bible study, someone always asks about forgiveness. It may be the central problem of living our faith. Desmond Tutu, recording the way South Africa faced up to the wickedness of apartheid, examines many of the issues that keep some of us from being able t...more
Maria
Feb 08, 2008 Maria rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Betsy
The concept of true forgiveness is difficult to understand, and once it is, difficult to put into practice. As chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Dismond Tutu describes the remarkable attempt by South Africans to come to terms with the gross violations of human rights committed throughout the apartheid era by offering amnesty and forgiveness rather than punishment and dismissal. He clearly discusses the economic reasons that lead to the TRC and why a repetition of the N...more
Jay
Nov 06, 2008 Jay rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Survivors, anti-oppressionists, clergy, counselors, historians
Recommended to Jay by: Qwo-Li Driskill
Beautiful writing weaving in and out of faith, justice, and reality.

It seems to me that Tutu's approach to sin is in much need in today's world- "sin" as defined not in which culturally-particular moralities we embody but in terms of what actual harm we do to people and the world, and how it affects us. The focus of the book is on the Truth and Reconciliation commission history, but it is woven together with stories of people living in a broken world reconciling to one another in deep, painful,...more
Larry D.C.
A very important book. Not pleasant reading, but an amazing display of the process of truth and reconciliation in action after years of Apartheid in South Africa. This process led to a degree of healing for many of the the atrocities that occured on both sides. Desmond Tutu paints a poignant picture of reconcialiation that desperately needs to be repeated in numerous places throughout the world to heal social trauma from genocide and wars, including that which subtly lingers in the fUnited State...more
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Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African cleric and activist who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. In 1984, Tutu became the second South African to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Tutu was the first black South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern A...more
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“Ubuntu [...] speaks of the very essence of being human. [We] say [...] "Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu." Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, "My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours." We belong in a bundle of life. We say, "A person is a person through other persons."

[...] A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.”
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“But suffering from a life-threatening disease also helped me have a different attitude and perspective. It has given a new intensity to life, for I realize how much I used to take for granted-the love and devotion of my wife, the laughter and playfulness of my grandchildren, the glory of a splendid sunset, the dedication of my colleagues. The disease has helped me acknowledge my own mortality, with deep thanksgiving for the extraordinary things that have happened in my life, not least in recent times. What a spectacular vindication it has been, in the struggle against apartheid, to live to see freedom come, to have been involved in finding the truth and reconciling the differences of those who are the future of our nation.” 11 likes
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