After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa

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Overview

The most important historical and journalistic portrait to date of a nation whose destiny will determine the fate of a continent.
A brutally honest exposé, After Mandela provides a sobering portrait of a country caught between a democratic future and a political meltdown. Recent works have focused primarily on Nelson Mandela’s transcendent story. But Douglas Foster, a leading South Africa authority with early, unprecedented access to President Zuma and to the next generation in the Mandela family, traces the nation’s entire post-apartheid arc, from its celebrated beginnings under “Madiba” to Thabo Mbeki’s tumultuous rule to the ferocious battle between Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. Foster tells this story not only from the point of view of the emerging black elite but also, drawing on hundreds of rare interviews over a six-year period, from the perspectives of ordinary citizens, including an HIV-infected teenager living outside Johannesburg and a homeless orphan in Cape Town. This is the long-awaited, revisionist account of a country whose recent history has been not just neglected but largely ignored by the West.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drawn “to investigate what happened in the aftermath of great social convulsions,” journalist Foster is “hooked on the postliberation story of the Republic of South Africa.” In this thoroughly engrossing account based on his travels there between 2004 and 2012, Foster offers a richly detailed account, both personal and professional, of “the only place on the globe where advanced capitalism, AIDS, and political freedom rushed through the door together.” Foster utilizes interviews with three “insiders” from divergent political perspectives (Mandela’s grandson, President Jacob Zuma’s daughter, opposition leader Zille’s son), three “outsiders” (a homeless orphan in Cape Town, a teenager with HIV living outside Johannesburg, an “unabashedly hopeful” boy from the northern-most province), and President Zuma himself. Besides an array of other political figures, he speaks with doctors, journalists, even Condoleezza Rice. Rendering places as vividly as a travel book, Foster tucks in enough South African history for the reader to understand the backstory of his speakers. However engrossing as Foster’s account is, the thicket of political intrigue surrounding Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa 1999–2008, and Zuma, and assorted internal ANC conflicts and controversies, remains impenetrable. Agent: David Black, David Black Agency. (June)
Wall Street Journal
“Mr. Foster is a dogged reporter, blessed with an uncanny ability to talk himself into places where journalists aren't normally welcome.”— Rian Malan
Martin Rubin - Los Angeles Times
“What a pleasant surprise to encounter a book that actually looks beyond the surface of South Africa's by now well-known story… Douglas Foster, former editor of Mother Jones, has gained a superb understanding of the complexities of South African society… Foster gives us a portrait of a vibrant nation, full of contrasts and contradictions, of wealth and poverty, of diversity and sophistication alongside ingrained attitudes and resistance… He is also fearless in putting his questions to the president, but given the nature of Zuma's evasions and excuses, it is no wonder that, at its conclusion, the book looks beyond the democratically elected leaders to the demos, the people of South Africa, and its essential spirit.”
Rian Malan - Wall Street Journal
“Mr. Foster is a dogged reporter, blessed with an uncanny ability to talk himself into places where journalists aren't normally welcome.”
Los Angeles Times - Martin Rubin
“What a pleasant surprise to encounter a book that actually looks beyond the surface of South Africa's by now well-known story… Douglas Foster, former editor of Mother Jones, has gained a superb understanding of the complexities of South African society… Foster gives us a portrait of a vibrant nation, full of contrasts and contradictions, of wealth and poverty, of diversity and sophistication alongside ingrained attitudes and resistance… He is also fearless in putting his questions to the president, but given the nature of Zuma's evasions and excuses, it is no wonder that, at its conclusion, the book looks beyond the democratically elected leaders to the demos, the people of South Africa, and its essential spirit.”
Wall Street Journal - Rian Malan
“Mr. Foster is a dogged reporter, blessed with an uncanny ability to talk himself into places where journalists aren't normally welcome.”
Los Angeles Times
“What a pleasant surprise to encounter a book that actually looks beyond the surface of South Africa's by now well-known story… Douglas Foster, former editor of Mother Jones, has gained a superb understanding of the complexities of South African society… Foster gives us a portrait of a vibrant nation, full of contrasts and contradictions, of wealth and poverty, of diversity and sophistication alongside ingrained attitudes and resistance… He is also fearless in putting his questions to the president, but given the nature of Zuma's evasions and excuses, it is no wonder that, at its conclusion, the book looks beyond the democratically elected leaders to the demos, the people of South Africa, and its essential spirit.”— Martin Rubin
Kirkus Reviews
A first draft of the history of Jacob Zuma's South Africa. The publicity machine for Foster's (Journalism/Northwestern Univ.) extensive tome on contemporary South Africa would have you believe that the author presents "a long-awaited revisionist account of a country whose recent history has not just been neglected but largely ignored by the west." (Readers might rightly wonder how one can write revisionism of a history that has been largely ignored.) Foster has been traveling to South Africa regularly since 2004, and the extent of his legwork is unquestionable. He organizes his chapters loosely around various themes and individuals that allow him to explore the nature of South Africa's democracy. In 2007, the African National Congress chose to remove Thabo Mbeki from the party presidency, replacing him with Zuma. While Foster tells this important story well, there is extensive literature about South Africa in the post-apartheid period, as Foster's own far-from-complete bibliography makes clear. A good deal of the writing on the country has either come from Western academics and journalists or has otherwise been readily available in the United States and Europe. Furthermore, Foster's subtitle is misleading, as he provides less a complete overview and assessment of post-apartheid South Africa than he does of the period since 2004. While the book's promise and originality might be overstated, Foster's journalistic chops are not. The author was obviously fantastic at cultivating contacts, and he draws insightful observations from the hundreds of people he interviewed and those he encountered in passing. He proved to be especially good at connecting with young people and drawing on their astute observations about the country they have inherited. Unfortunately, the author inserts himself on nearly every page, constantly reminding us that he was there. A mostly trenchant book that oversells its contribution.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871404787
  • Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/10/2012
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 317,827
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Foster, an associate professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, is a contributor to The Atlantic, New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times, and Smithsonian. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

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Table of Contents

Overture Baleka Uzohaqwa! 1

Part I Tomorrow's Country (2004)

1 The Chief 13

2 The Thief 35

3 The Rival 55

4 The Chroniclers 71

5 The Doctor 88

6 The City 110

7 The Grandson 121

Part II The Stalled Revolution (2005-2006)

8 Inside 149

9 Outside 178

10 Upside Down 201

11 On the Air 216

12 On the Ground 235

Part III The Pivotal Year (2007)

13 Cape Town 257

14 Atlantis 276

15 Johannesburg 295

16 Orange Farm 323

17 Nkandla 345

18 Polokwane 370

19 Mvezo 390

Part IV The End of Magical Thinking (2008-2012)

20 The Globe 413

21 The Prisoner 442

22 The Cup 458

23 Liberated People 486

24 The Leader 509

Coda: Freedom Day 544

Acknowledgments 549

Notes 555

Selected Bibliography 567

Index 577

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