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A History of South Africa

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  66 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
'A remarkable feat of scholarship, fairness and readability, full of lively detail with a freshness of style which brings new life to the narrative' Anthony Sampson

Throughout its turbulent history, South Africa has frequently been the focus of worldwide attention -- usually hostile. Yet prejudice and ignorance about the country are widespread. The evolution of the present
Paperback, Revised Edition, 656 pages
Published May 2000 by HarperCollins (first published November 1st 1998)
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Jul 10, 2011 Berino rated it did not like it
It is a pity that the author was unable to remove himself from popular politics and in doing so failed to present a concise objective narrative.
The text contains too many sneering subjective comments which appear to reflect the author's personal political orientation.
I would not recommend this at all.
Dec 29, 2014 William rated it liked it
Shelves: history, africa
Informative but very dry. I'm not sure who Welsh intended as his audience as he assumes an awful lot of prior knowledge. I found myself putting down the book every few pages and picking up my iPad to google things, people, and places he introduced without explanation. He uses a lot of foreign terms, mostly Afrikaans, and rarely explains them. The book could do with more detailed maps as well.
Thomas Armstrong
Aug 17, 2014 Thomas Armstrong rated it really liked it
This was a good history. It gave me a nice overview of South Africa's past. The narrative was clean and kept me moving forward at a nice clip. I bought the first edition (instead of the fourth), both because I was a cheapskate and also because I figured that I'd get another book that told the story of the past thirty years (so far I'm still looking!). The story of how apartheid was constructed just floored me with its blatant inhumanity. While it seemed clear that some churches' missionary ...more
Jan 28, 2010 Francois rated it really liked it
A good read. Exceptionally well done to cover such a convoluted, tumultuous history in a concise, balanced manner. In addition to the main thrust, I particularly enjoyed some of the tidbits the author dug up, such as this quote about Sir Walter Currie, who founded the Frontier Mounted Police:

'He "could ride without a saddle, march without boots, but could not move along with adjectives".'

Or his observation that, following Susanna Smit's impassioned two-hour harangue threatening to walk barefoot
Sep 30, 2014 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For someone like me with no background on South Africa this is a good read. Welsh provides a solid overview of colonial and modern South African History (through 1990s). Even though the book is over 500 pages long, I felt at times he glossed over seemingly important events. One thing that did nag me at times was his subjective commentary on people; he would often describe someone as good or bad but give no further information, so you couldn't tell how grounded in fact his accusation was. In that ...more
Mar 10, 2013 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Reading the history of South Africa is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Things just keep getting worse and worse until finally the whole crash comes to a stop. Luckily at the end there are survivors who limp away to a hopefully better life. I learned a lot and was very impressed by some brave, passionate, caring people who stood for the right thing even when it was not popular and most people did not even think it was the right thing. I also saw what can happen to a society if people ...more
Mar 22, 2016 Lo rated it it was ok
I mean, obviously biased but overall I learned quite a bit from this book. It doesn't give a good account of background of native SA culture (pre 1600s), however, I learned about the English vs Afrikaners conflict. That, in itself, was worth a read for an American living in South Africa.
Michael Mullen
Sep 08, 2012 Michael Mullen rated it really liked it
Some interesting omissions and 'also ran' treatments, no doubt in the name of commercially driven brevity, add to the very slight taint of this otherwise and apparently objective account of a region with a nail-clipping's worth of documented history.
Feb 16, 2015 Thomas rated it really liked it
Intensely detailed, this book proved invaluable in preparation for my trip to South Africa.

Extensive details about names, the book would have been enhanced if it came with more maps.
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