In This Review

Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit
Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit
By Hennie van Vuuren
Hurst, 2019, 448 pp

In 1977, the United Nations imposed an arms embargo on the white-minority regime in South Africa. The embargo was later followed by sanctions on trade, investment, and lending. The regime responded by creating a sophisticated network of organizations and agents around the world that it used to keep weapons and crucial economic goods, such as oil, flowing. In this impressive but sprawling account, van Vuuren draws on archival material and interviews to reveal how the South African government got around the sanctions and how France, the United Kingdom, and the United States subverted the rules. Throughout the 1980s, South Africa used friendly banks in Europe to maintain lines of credit to finance the acquisition of weapons and military technology worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Secrecy, restrictions on the South African press, intense diplomacy, connections with foreign intelligence services, and lobbying abroad ensured the success of South Africa’s illicit global network until the end of the Cold War.