In This Review

After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa
After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa
By Douglas Foster
Liveright, 2012, 608 pp.

Foster spent the last few years interviewing South African political elites and their relatives, civil-society activists, and a handful of “street kids” in South Africa’s burgeoning cities. He explores the contradiction at the core of postapartheid South Africa: the massive gap between the ideals of pluralist democracy articulated by the country’s exemplary constitution and the violence, corruption, and inequality that shape everyday society and politics. This analysis is not particularly original, but the book is salvaged by Foster’s ability to get his subjects to reveal themselves and shed light on their milieu and by his sharply drawn portraits of President Jacob Zuma and former President Nelson Mandela and his family. Foster emphasizes the differences between an older generation of black elites steeped in the discipline of the struggle against apartheid and a younger generation that views South Africa in more cosmopolitan terms and is less interested in politics than in pop music and designer clothes.