A History Of South Africa

In This Review

A History Of South Africa

By Leonard Thompson
Yale University Press, 1990
288 pp. $29.95

To select, record and interpret the "facts" of South African history has always been a peculiarly political undertaking. Today the historian of South Africa risks drawing fire from several well-armed intellectual camps, but is also presented by history itself with an opportunity to contribute to an emergent post-apartheid national identity. In this concise but rich new text, South Africa's most eminent emigré historian draws on the findings of both radical and liberal scholarship of the 1970s and 1980s, and strikes an appealing balance in his interpretation of the strengths, vulnerabilities, intentions and perspectives of contending interests-race, class, culture and gender-that have vied over the years for a place in South Africa's sun. This is a work of insight and durability that is certain to assist South Africa's coming generation of nation-builders to reach a more objective understanding of their past.

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