Unconventional Diplomacy in Southern Africa

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Unconventional Diplomacy in Southern Africa

By Robin Renwick
St. Martin's Press, 1997
163 pp. $45.00
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This unassuming memoir features the dramatic highlights of Robin Renwick's career as a British diplomat during the transitions to majority rule in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Two-thirds of the book is a blow-by-blow account of how Britain's Foreign Secretary Peter Carrington (to whom the author was a deputy) successfully bullied and cajoled Rhodesia's warring parties to accept a peace settlement at the Lancaster House conference in late 1979. Less "unconventional" but effective in its own way, was the author's own role as ambassador to South Africa from 1987 to 1991, related in the book's final portion. Despite dutifully carrying out Margaret Thatcher's policy of protecting British interests by fighting pressures for sanctions, the author earned the confidence of key players in the democratic movement as well as in the National Party, enabling him to act as an effective broker at important points during the country's political transformation.