This highly informative collection of 13 thematic essays by a leading authority on South Africa is the most comprehensive and balanced book available on the country's contemporary politics. Following opening pieces on the Mandela presidency and an assessment of the diverse interests represented in the ruling African National Congress, Lodge reviews the performance of regional and local governments, the problems of land reform and corruption, the impact of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the role of nongovernmental organizations, the implications of a dominant party system for democratic consolidation, the evolving concept of an "African Renaissance," and the record of President Thabo Mbeki through 2001. He portrays the ANC as an alliance of competing social groups among which none is presently dominant and finds that democracy, although taking root in many ways, is still vulnerable to antidemocratic influences. The book skillfully synthesizes an enormous amount of material generated by academics and journalists, packaging it in an easily digestible form for readers who already know a fair amount about South Africa. Beginners looking for a general introduction to the country, however, will wish for fewer trees and more forest.
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