Country Of My Skull
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Country Of My Skull

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  1,323 ratings  ·  138 reviews
The first free elections in South Africa's history were held in 1994. Within a year legislation was drafted to create a Truth and Reconcilliation Commission to establish a picture of the gross human rights violations committed between 1960 and 1993. It was to seek the truth and make it known to the public and to prevent these brutal events ever happening again. From 1996 a...more
Paperback, 454 pages
Published November 4th 1999 by Vintage (first published 1998)
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T.J.
Jul 11, 2008 T.J. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in South Africa, people interested in race/racism, human beings in general
I'm fascinated by this book.

Antjie Krog has written *the* book on the TRC, what it tried to do, what if failed to do, why it happened, and its impact on those involved regardless of gender, race, and national identity.

Krog's book is an uneven, rambling and not objective narrative by any means. She's roundabout, frustrating, tell-all, reserved, and contradictory in the extreme. Yet she knows she's a white Afrikaner woman writing a book on a multicultural, deeply emotional process, and she succeed...more
Catherine
This is an utterly mesmerizing book - not only because of the events it describes, the history captured, the relationships transcribed, but also because of the prose. Krog does a magnificent job of meditating on the form and function of words - words exchanged in conversation, in testimony, in poetry, in official reports - and all while stretching the utility of each word she chooses for herself, to tell this particular story, of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission trying to heal a nation thro...more
pam
After reading this book I was shocked, horrified. Although I thought I knew about the ugly crimes committed in the 80's and 90's by both blacks and whites in South Africa, I was not prepared for the details of the horrendous acts of torture and murder which came to light in the testimonies of the victims. I can well understand why Antjie Krog, working as a journalist on a daily basis for over two years, felt physically sick and at times overwrought with anger bordering on hysteria.

This book is m...more
Mk
This book is a compilation of testimony from south Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The author is a famous Afrikaaner poet, and her voice is present throughout the book. Though the book tells the stories of those most harmed by Apartheid, you also get to hear Krog grapple with her own guilt and her struggle to move forward as an ally.

It is one of the most difficult books emotionally I've ever read; I could only read 10 pages or so at a time before it became too much to take. And yet...more
matt

Morally brave, politically brave, aesthetically challenging, disturbingly detailed, passionately felt, exacting in its witness to outrage.

It was very tough getting through some of the parts that dealt first hand with the horrors of apartheid. I read it in class and I noticed that quite a few of the women in the class- hardy, intelligent souls, all- were really disturbed by the virulent sexism and brute, authorized sadism that was mostly gotten away with under a terrifying point in global hist...more
Ariana
I really did not know many details about South Africa's post-Apartheid processes. This book was very difficult to read at times, given the verbatim testimony from both victims and perpetrators. I definitely learned a lot about the complexities of South African politics and the unpacking of black-white binaries and political alliances in that context. I also appreciated the author's very personal admissions and reactions, even when they were unfavorable.
Chase
This is a fantastic book about South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Antjie Krog is a unique person: an Afrikaans poet/journalist who was an ANC comrade. Her account of the TRC is intensely personal and (like the title says) explores themes of guilt, sorrow and forgiveness. She loves Tutu and generally sees the TRC as a good thing, shortcomings and all. I love this book.
Jason Yang
Wow, what a powerful account of post-apartheid South Africa and the challenges of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.



It is hard to read this book and not be stirred. The stories the author selected elicit strong emotions. The tragedies endured by normal civilians are heart-breaking. And the size of the task at hand - to give honors a chance at justice, to create a path toward reconciling both sides - almost impossible. It is hard to not feel a sense of despair.



One of the really powerful ide...more
Kimberly
As much as this was an important book for me and for anyone interested in the process of reconciliation to read, I struggled with the somewhat artistic or poetic presentation (which, I hate to say, just seemed kind of disorganized and hard to follow). I didn't appreciate the insertion of poetry into prose or, even worse, testimony, without any demarcation, and I was frustrated by long bits of dialogue without anything identifying who was speaking. It seems that there was a need for chapter break...more
Tuck
a litany of man's inhumanity, sadism, torture, rape, murder, slavery, beatings, mean-spiritedness, and so on. very literary and poetic writing style. and btw, all sides, all colors participated in this orgy of blood and death and torture. thank god its over. its amazing south africa doesn't burn every day with vendettas, recriminations, and paybacks. its an example of what could be.
Charlotte Youngblood
A very personal account of the Truth and Reconciliation Comission in South Africa. I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in history and restorative justice. I think learning about the South African experience is extremely important to international relations and, more generally, human behavior.
Nicole
Dec 24, 2010 Nicole rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
It broke my heart, and was incredibly difficult to read, there were times when I could read only a page or two before I'd have to put it back down, but as heart-rending as it was, it's the sort of thing you really should read.
AP
This is the book that made me want to study abroad in South Africa. And I met her, and, she's graceful, composed and humble. I was really nervous and awkward when I asked her to sign my book, though. I'd like to read this again.
Barry Levy
Emotive, almost spritual insight into SA's Truth and Reconcilliation Commission and its meaning for sides who once thought they would never even try to reconcile in a single room.
Richard
Antjie Krog relates the horrors of apartheid through the words of its victims (and some of its perpetrators). I had some trouble with the author's style; it was sometimes an effort to keep track of whose words I was reading. The book was written for South African readers and while it can be very interesting to read something written for and by someone from another culture, in this case it was also confusing. I don't have the same frame of reference as the target audience, and it was a bit of a d...more
Kelsey Demers
Neither fully an autobiography or a novel, a memoir or political analysis, the book is truly a combination of all these things, taking on a mixed identity as Krog details not only her own life and her role during the Truth and Reconciliation commission, but also translating the stories and testimonies of the victims and perpetrators of Apartheid, using their voices to tell the story as well. This has led controversy to surround this novel. Krog's fictionalization dramatization of actual events a...more
Brittany
"What I have in common with them is a culture—and part of that culture over decades hatched the abominations for which they are responsible. In a sense it is not these men but a culture that is asking for amnesty." pg. 121

"For me, the Truth Commission microphone with its little red light was the ultimate symbol of the whole process: here the marginalized voice speaks to the public ear; the unspeakable is spoken—and translated; the personal story brought from the innermost depths of the individua...more
Ian
This book deals with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was established after the ANC came into power in 1994.

The book is not a simple recounting of the cases before the TRC; it deals with the origins of the commission; the key personalities; some of the landmark cases; and the author's own personal journey as an Afrikaner in understanding the past and living in a new political landscape.

The writing is very haunting at times. It includes extracts from various cases that...more
LibraryCin
2.5 stars

Shortly after Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Committee was formed to listen to victims and perpetrators of apartheid. If perpetrators applied for and came clean, they would be given amnesty.

I didn't like the writing style. The author is putting a lot of herself into it, and I'm not interested in her. The stories are very short and it wasn't enough to keep me interested most of the time. There is also a lot more about the Truth and Reconci...more
AJ
I attempted to read this a couple of times before this, but was never able to finish. In fact, once I started this time I realized that I never even got all that far into it before (even though I thought I had). I think it's because every time this has been hard for me to get into, including this time. The author is known especially for her poetry and prose, which is not really my favorite style of writing. So, it was always hard for me to get into the tone and style of her writing.

But man, am I...more
André-Pierre du Plessis
COUNTRY OF MY SKULL, deur Antjie Krog.
Vintage, Londen, 1999.
(Sagteband, 454 bladsye, ISBN 0 958 41953 1.)

“The experiences of victims did indeed become part of the national psyche and part of our country’s acknowledged history for the very first time” (bl. 447 – 448).

Antjie Krog skryf nie net oor die vele slagoffers wie se stories sy aangehoor het tydens die Waarheid-en-versoeningskommissie (WVK) se verhore nie, maar sy is ook besig om oor haarself te skryf. In haar bekroonde boek Country of my s...more
Katherine
I've had this book for a while on my bookshelf, and finally, thanks to a book club, I took the opportunity to finally read it.

It's been a process, but I'm very much blown away. Antjie Krog takes me to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa and shares intimate details of testimonies and reactions of South African's horrid stories of what they face under apartheid. Krog writes this book in 1998, just when the TRC is ending, so everything is fresh and in her moment, does not...more
nanto
Filmnya berjudul "In My Country" dengan Samuel L. Jackson (Langston Whitfield) reporter media cetak dari Amerika Serikat dan Juliet Binochet (Anna Malan) reporter radio lokal yang bertugas meliput proses rekonsiliasi di Afrika Selatan. Filmnya sendiri tergolong standar karena kurang fokus pada proses rekonsilisasi dan dikaburkan oleh nuansa cinta lapangan dua reporter itu. Namun, cerita di buku ini sepertinya menawarkan hal lain.

Di filmnya, saya menemukan semangat memaafkan masyarakat Afrika Sel...more
Laura Jean
I read this book years ago, but I still think of it, like now, in quiet moments. This book chronicles the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, in which the perpetrators and victims of apartheid had a reckoning -- testimony for truth, forgiveness for reconciliation. As I was reading about the extraordinary people that made it happen, I couldn't help thinking about how different our national culture might be if America could do something similar. It is important to listen to the ho...more
Kieran
An incredibly, powerful and moving account of newly post-apartheid South Africa. Although based on factual events, in this book Krog is free to remove objective constraints and write about the emotional impact on the lives of the people who underwent so much trauma. Written primarily as a 1st person narrative, and yet discussing the TRC proceedings, Krog makes an interesting new genre of factual novel.

It is incredibly difficult to read, the prose is simple enough, but that simplicity and clear e...more
Helen
I started reading this book as I'm currently translating a book on collective memory and trauma. It opened my eyes to the politics of the last century and helped me to understand modern South Africa. Questions of what constitutes truth and reconciliation are central to the book, which draws together thousands of witness statements of the victims and torturers of Apartheid. Krog places the reader in the shoes both of oppressed black freedom fighters and entrenched white Afrikaners and spares the...more
LDB
I read this book in combination with a trip to South Africa. It gives an interesting history of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) through the eyes of an Afrikaaner and journalist. In addition to writing about the commission itself and the stories heard by the commission, the author also shares her personal struggles with what truth is and the feelings of guilt that surround the Afrikaaner experience with Apartheid. I found the book a little uneven, with some chapters very lyrical and...more
Meghan
This is an amazing, beautifully written book. Krog is a poet and a journalist and there is perhaps no better training for a person attempting to write about the collective grief of a nation. That being said, this book definitely does not give anything in the way of an in depth introduction to the history of apartheid in South Africa, and is a much richer book if you have a working knowledge of South African history.
Denise
Wow! I first purchased the book in South Africa and lost my copy. I found another copy recently in a book store in the states. If you want to gain a better understanding of the guilt felt by the survivors of apartheid and the amazing capacity for forgiveness this is a worthwhile read.
Sunny Sidhu
Antijie Krog describes in vivid detail the narratives of South African apartheid atrocities from the perspective of both victims and those guilty of conducting rape, murder, kidnapping, and other acts of violence. Krog reports on the undertakings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an organization chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and tasked with the goal of exchanging truth in exchange for amnesty, seamlessly weaving together real stories of loss with her experiences in post-apartheid...more
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Krog grew up on a farm, attending primary and secondary school in Kroonstad. In 1973 she earned a BA (Hons) degree in English from the University of the Orange Free State, and an MA in Afrikaans from the University of Pretoria in 1976. With a teaching diploma from the University of South Africa (UNISA) she would lecture at a segregated teacher’s training college for black South Africans.

She is mar...more
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