In This Review

Rivonia's Children: Three Families and the Cost of Conscience in White South Africa
Rivonia's Children: Three Families and the Cost of Conscience in White South Africa
By Glenn Frankel
Farrar, 1999, 381 pp
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If South Africa ultimately consolidates an enduring multiracial democracy, its success will be due partly to the unusual courage of a small number of whites who put careers and families aside and threw themselves into opposition politics at a time when the prospects for success were negligible and the costs of conscience extremely high. Many of these activists were nonreligious Jews of East European extraction who had found an ideological home in the South African Communist Party. Frankel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former Johannesburg bureau chief for The Washington Post, has focused on three of these families, weaving together a gripping account of their tense and traumatic lives in the 1950s and 1960s. Although the book breaks little new ground historically, it offers the general reader a dramatic glimpse into an era when South Africa's future was at a crossroads and only a few brave souls, white as well as black, chose the path less traveled.