Saving Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial and the Fate of South Africa

Saving Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial and the Fate of South Africa

by Kenneth S. Broun
     
 

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When South Africa's apartheid government charged Nelson Mandela with planning its overthrow in 1963, most observers feared that he would be sentenced to death. But the support he and his fellow activists in the African National Congress received during his trial not only saved his life, but also enabled him to save his country. In Saving Nelson Mandela,

Overview

When South Africa's apartheid government charged Nelson Mandela with planning its overthrow in 1963, most observers feared that he would be sentenced to death. But the support he and his fellow activists in the African National Congress received during his trial not only saved his life, but also enabled him to save his country. In Saving Nelson Mandela, South African law expert Kenneth S. Broun recreates the trial--called the "Rivonia" Trial after the Johannesburg suburb where police seized Mandela. Based upon interviews with many of the case's primary figures and portions of the trial transcript, Broun situates readers inside the courtroom at the imposing Palace of Justice in Pretoria. Here, the trial unfolds through a dramatic narrative that captures the courage of the accused and their defense team, as well as the personal prejudices that colored the entire trial. The Rivonia trial had no jury and only a superficial aura of due process, combined with heavy security that symbolized the apartheid government's system of repression. Broun shows how outstanding advocacy, combined with widespread public support, in fact backfired on apartheid leaders, who sealed their own fate. Despite his 27-year incarceration, Mandela's ultimate release helped move his country from the racial tyranny of apartheid toward democracy. As documented in this inspirational book, the Rivonia trial was a critical milestone that helped chart the end of Apartheid and the future of a new South Africa.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An astonishing tale of the defendants' personal courage...Tactics, skill, strategy, diplomacy and legal maneuver pervade Saving Nelson Mandela. Still, bold, breathtaking human bravery swamps all. I'm guessing Professor Broun wouldn't have it any other way. —Charlotte News and Observer

"A taut, intelligent analysis of a dramatic turning point in South African and, indeed, world history." — Kirkus Reviews

"Kenneth Broun does justice indeed to one of the most celebrated political trials of the 20th century...the result is not only a gripping story but a work of profound scholarship, sensitivity, and empathy." —Mark Gevisser, author of A Legacy of Liberation

"Part history, part sociology, part engrossing legal drama, this important book recounts a seminal moment in South Africa's history." —Penelope Andrews, City University of New York School of Law

Kirkus Reviews
A law professor revisits the trial that "saved…the very soul" of South Africa. This latest in the Pivotal Moments in World History series features the dramatic 1963–64 trial of 10 defendants, including Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki, charged with sabotage against South Africa's apartheid government. Named for the Johannesburg suburb in which all the conspirators except for the already imprisoned Mandela were arrested, Rivonia was a criminal trial with the life of each defendant at stake. It's remembered, though, for its enormous political dimension, as the forum where the defendants, with considerable help from their extraordinarily talented team of advocates, helped frame the political and moral crisis wrought by the government's apartheid system. For 25 years, Broun (Law/Univ. of North Carolina; Black Lawyers, White Courts: Soul of South African Law, 2000, etc.) has regularly traveled to South Africa helping to train young lawyers. His familiarity with the country, its legal system and three of the principal Rivonia defense attorneys lends special authority to his presentation and interpretation of the events. Rivonia featured its share of fireworks—an unlikely and successful pre-trial jailbreak by two of the arrestees, a stirring address to the court by Mandela—but Broun is at his best examining the legal subtleties of the trial and the strategies and agendas of the defense attorneys and government officials. All but two defendants were convicted and received life sentences. Dismantling apartheid, transforming South African law and ensuring the primacy of human rights would be the work of future decades, but, as the author demonstrates, all this would likely have unfolded far more violently but for Rivonia. A taut, intelligent analysis of a dramatic turning point in South African and, indeed, world history.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199913121
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
02/03/2012
Series:
Pivotal Moments in World History
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Kenneth S. Broun is the Henry Brandis Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina Law School. Since 1986, he has traveled regularly to South Africa to conduct programs in trial advocacy training through the Black Lawyers Association of South Africa.

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