South Africa

South Africa

by Michael Gallagher

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
The "Countries in the News" series grazes trouble spots of the world, selecting basic information about history, politics, culture, and current events. Each volume includes statistics and brief discussions of both continuing problems and issues in the news, while offering students several prompts for further debate in the classroom. South Africa will acquaint readers with the country's racially mixed population, its geography, past apartheid, and present government under Thabo Mbeki. South Africa's majority political party (African National Congress) is discussed, as are principal ethnic minorities: Afrikaners, Zulus, "Coloreds," and Indians. "Know Your Facts" sidebars present information on unemployment among blacks, land reform, desperate need for education, and the AIDS emergency. Among issues proposed as questions for student debate are the government's policy of favoring foreign corporations, Mbeki's confusing handling of AIDS, and the continuing existence of tumbledown townships. Though barely skimmed here, South Africa's problems are severe, especially the slow pace of reform, the continued spread of AIDS exacerbated by unprotected sex and powerless women, and an upswing in violent urban crime. Despite some encouraging advances in the arts and quality of life, the author sees little hope for progress soon, as many nonwhite citizens still feel oppressed by poverty and continuing inequalities in education and jobs. Eye-opening information and color photos in this volume could inspire the further research necessary for any in-depth study of South Africa. Extra features include a timeline, a glossary, and a list of useful websites. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6

This accessible work covers the history, geography and government of South Africa, along with a look at a few of its ethnic groups and the country's social structure and problems. The emphasis is on present-day issues. The author has done an admirable job of providing a series of verbal snapshots that generally do justice to the complexities of the country's history and society in few words. Both the positive aspects of the new South Africa and its challenges are dealt with. The information is more accurate than in many similar titles. However, there are times when the explanation is simplistic or even misleading: for example, the blame for the widespread lack of basic education is placed partially on antiapartheid protests rather than on the decades of "Bantu education," specifically designed to educate black South Africans only for manual labor. Unemployment is not mentioned as a problem. "What Do You Think?" boxes on every few spreads pose thought-provoking questions such as "...should South Africa be described as rich or poor?" The clear, well-captioned color photographs are superior to those usually found in books of this type. They focus on people, and readers are drawn into the human reality of the situation, particularly in shots such as that of a black domestic worker with her white employers. Useful for country reports.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City

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Product Details

Black Rabbit Books
Publication date:
Countries in the News Series
Product dimensions:
8.63(w) x 10.69(h) x 0.31(d)
1140L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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