Loosing the Bonds: The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years

In This Review

Loosing the Bonds: The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years

By Robert Kinloch Massie
Nan A. Talese, 1997
896 pp. $40.00
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Much has been written about American policy toward South Africa, but no work has so engagingly and authoritatively chronicled the movement by liberal activists to compel American corporations to disinvest during the apartheid era. Massie traces the gradual growth of the campaign to persuade institutional investors (churches, universities, and later state and local governments) to sell stocks of companies doing business in South Africa as a means of pressuring them to disinvest. Some institutions unwilling to divest stock eventually agreed to vote for disinvestment stockholder resolutions -- or, more minimally, for resolutions that demanded improved corporate practices by South African subsidiaries. As late as October 1984, the president of Harvard, Derek Bok, was still calling institutional divestment "a dubious strategy." Yet Massie shows clearly and eloquently how the divestment campaign contributed first to a shift in corporate thinking, then to significant disinvestment, and finally to South Africa's decision to democratize.

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