Anatomy of a Miracle: The End of Apartheid and the Birth of the New South Africa

In This Review

Anatomy of a Miracle: The End of Apartheid and the Birth of the New South Africa

By Patti Waldmeir
W. W. Norton, 1997
303 pp. $27.50
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This is one of the better sort of journalistic books that probe beneath the who and what to look for the why of world events. The author reported on southern Africa for the Financial Times for nine years from the mid-1980s, first from Lusaka and later from Johannesburg. She adds some new details to the account of the secret negotiations between South Africa's African National Congress and National Party first told in 1995 (without the melodramatic style and pretentious name-dropping) by Allister Sparks in Tomorrow Is Another Country. She offers plausible hypotheses to explain the ambiguities of F. W. de Klerk's political strategy, Deputy President Thabo Mbeki's winning diplomatic style, and Nelson Mandela's breadth of vision acquired in his prison years. Politics, economics, and fortune brought South Africa's race conflict to an impasse in the late 1980s, she says, skillful leadership on both sides and the collapse of the Eastern bloc pushed events toward resolution in 1989-91, and a combination of superior political maneuvering and numbers ensured an ANC victory in 1992-94.