The Mirror at Midnight: A South African Journey

Overview

Adam Hochschild was born in New York City in 1942. His first book, Half The Way Home: A Memoir Of Father And Son, was published in 1986. It was followed by The Mirror At Midnight: A South African Journey, and The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin. The Unquiet Ghost won the Madeline Dane Ross Award of the Overseas Press Club of America, given to "the best foreign correspondent in any medium showing concern for the human condition. Hochschild's work has also won prizes from the World Affairs Council, the ...
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Overview

Adam Hochschild was born in New York City in 1942. His first book, Half The Way Home: A Memoir Of Father And Son, was published in 1986. It was followed by The Mirror At Midnight: A South African Journey, and The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin. The Unquiet Ghost won the Madeline Dane Ross Award of the Overseas Press Club of America, given to "the best foreign correspondent in any medium showing concern for the human condition. Hochschild's work has also won prizes from the World Affairs Council, the Eugene V. Debs Foundation and the Society of American Travel Writers. An anthology of his shorter pieces, Finding The Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels, won the 1998 PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award for the Art of the Essay.

Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost: A Story Of Greed, Terror And Heroism. In Colonial Africa was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. It, Half The Way Home, and The Unquiet Ghost were all named Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review. His books have been translated into six languages.

Besides his books, Hochschild has also written for The New Yorker, Harper's, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, The Nation, and many other newspapers and magazines. He is a former commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

Hochschild teaches writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, and has been a guest teacher at other campuses in the U.S. and abroad. In 1997-98, he was a Fulbright Lecturer in India. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Arlie, the sociologist and author. They have two sons.

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Editorial Reviews

Edward Hower
No recent book can better clarify South Africa's dilemma than 'The Mirror at Midnight,' by Adam Hochschild, a former editor and co-founder of Mother Jones magazine. During his several visits to the country, he visited historic shrines, ob- served political trials, interviewed scores of people in wealthy white suburbs and crowded black townships. He has brought back a thoroughly researched, immensely readable book, a work of vivid reportage and astute political analysis. --San Francisco Chronicle
Robin Cohen
There is an old adage that an observer sometimes sees more of the game than a participant. An even better combination is a disinterested observer who none the less shares an intimate connection with his subject. Adam Hochschild, an American re- porter, first saw South Africa as an adolescent accompanying his father on a business trip in the 1950s. He immediately recognized that the country's political convulsions were not merely an inter- nal matter but a moral battleground of worldwide significance, in much the same way as the implications of the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Hitler's Germany transcended their immediate context....

By cleverly weaving in his own experiences and contempo- rary interviews with the warp and woof of South African history, the author has successfully confronted some key themes unre- solved in a post-apartheid society. He even has the grace to concede that American history is not that dissimilar from that of South Africa and, had the population ratio between native Ameri- cans and white settlers been reversed, a development kindred to apartheid would have emerged. -- Daily Telegraph (London)

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a stunning blend of reportage, travelogue, history and meditation, Hochschild focuses on the Great Trek of 1836-1839, when Boer coastal settlers, armed with muskets, ox whips and Bibles, staked out the borders of modern South Africa. He reenacts the pivotal Battle of Blood River in 1838, in which countless Zulus were massacred, and explains how Dingane, tall, stout chief of the Zulus' military kingdom, was demonized later by white historians. Today the Great Trek is part of ``the 150-year-old national myth of Afrikaners- as-victims.'' Turning to reportage, Hochschild Half the Way Home , who visited South Africa in 1988, interviewed the head of a neo-Nazi group, a ``coloured'' racially mixed teacher who spent 10 years in a black-only prison, and the four Watson brothers, rugby stars who have been targets of repeated assassination attempts for refusing to play on all-white teams. An epilogue covers events up to the present. One of the most illuminating books ever written on contemporary South Africa, this biopsy probes the racial divide in razor-sharp prose. Nov.
Library Journal
Hochschild, a cofounder of Mother Jones magazine and author of the acclaimed memoir Half Way Home LJ 5/15/86; an LJ ``Best Book of 1986'', here takes readers on a journey back to the Battle of Blood River in 1838. This was a pivotal point in South African history, Hochschild says, since it was the beginning of white South Africans' sense of manifest destiny and the root of their current apartheid policies. Antagonism between Dutch and English settlers in South Africa led to a great trek to supposedly unclaimed land; Hochschild shows how this was really achieved by displacing and killing the native black inhabitants. In the retelling of this history, Hochschild gives readers food for thought and reassessment about modern South Africa, and provides American readers with some uncomfortable parallels to our own sense of manifest destiny and treatment of natives. Many good books on South Africa have been published recently, but this offers an intriguing new perspective. A good choice for all libraries.-- Louise Leonard, Univ. of Florida Libs., Gainesville
School Library Journal
YA-- A plethora of books about apartheid and South Africa have appeared in this column recently, but Hochschild's book puts forth a historical outlook explaining modern South African problems. By retelling the story of the 1838 Battle of Blood River, he focuses on conflicts between Dutch and English settlers as they moved into ``unclaimed'' land and thus uprooted and killed native blacks. Hochschild indicates that feelings of apartheid had their beginnings here. This is a strong addition to African history sections, and bright, mature YAs will draw comparisons to this continent's white man and the Native American.-- Mike Printz, Topeka West High School, KS
Christopher Hitchens
Adam Hochschild has written a good book...an anatomy of the way in which racism depends upon racists, and the ways in which racists become a menace even to what they consider their own kith and kin. -- Newsweek
Newsday
Adam Hochschild has written a good book...an anatomy of the way in which racism depends upon racists, and the ways in which racists become a menace even to what they consider their own kith and kin.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140117851
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/1991
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 4.34 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

ADAM HOCHSCHILD has written for The New Yorker, Harper's, The New York Review of Books, Granta, The New York Times Magazine, and many other newspapers and magazines. In King Leopold’s Ghost, Bury the Chains, and other books, Hochschild has earned a reputation as a master of suspense and vivid character portrayal. His skill at evoking such struggles for justice has made him a finalist for the National Book Award and won him a host of other prizes.

Biography

Adam Hochschild was born in New York City in 1942. His first book, Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son, was published in 1986. It was followed by The Mirror at Midnight: A South African Journey (1990) and The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin (1994). Finding the Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels won the 1998 PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award for the Art of the Essay.

Hochschild's books have been translated into five languages and have won prizes from the Overseas Press Club of America, the World Affairs Council, the Eugene V. Debs Foundation, and the Society of American Travel Writers. Three of his books -- includingKing Leopold's Ghost -- have been named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review and Library Journal. King Leopold's Ghost was also awarded the 1998 California Book Awards gold medal for nonfiction.

Hochschild has also written for The New Yorker, Harper's magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones (which he co-founded), The Nation, and many other magazines and newspapers. A former commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," he teaches writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1997-98 he was a Fulbright Lecturer in India.

He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Arlie, the sociologist and author. They have two sons.

Author biography courtesy of Houghton Mifflin.

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    1. Hometown:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 5, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      A.B., Harvard College, 1963

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