Reviews

Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Foster, an experienced reporter and former editor of Mother Jones magazine, writes fluently about South Africa of the past decade. He is particularly acute and perceptive about the mercurial leadership failings of President Jacob Zuma and the weaknesses of President Thabo Mbeki, Zuma's predecessor. But what Foster contributes best is a feeling for the pain of young people attempting to make their way in the obstacle-strewn and socially disturbing terrain of modern South Africa. The author's critique punctures the myths of a post-Mandela rainbow nation and offers a wealth of anecdotal reportage on the era since Mandela. The book, however, is much fuller and stronger on the early period (the Mbeki years) and on such telling and unfortunate episodes as the lamented and much-criticized battle against HIV/AIDS. Foster began his visits to South Africa from Chicago in that period; his analysis of recent developments (except for a chapter on Zuma) is much sketchier. This is by no means a conclusive treatment on what has happened to the South African dream after Mandela. Rather, it is a readable collection of vignettes. Summing Up: Recommended. For general readers only. R. I. Rotberg Harvard University


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Drawn "to investigate what happened in the aftermath of great social convulsions," journalist Foster is "hooked on the postliberation story of the Republic of South Africa." In this thoroughly engrossing account based on his travels there between 2004 and 2012, Foster offers a richly detailed account, both personal and professional, of "the only place on the globe where advanced capitalism, AIDS, and political freedom rushed through the door together." Foster utilizes interviews with three "insiders" from divergent political perspectives (Mandela's grandson, President Jacob Zuma's daughter, opposition leader Zille's son), three "outsiders" (a homeless orphan in Cape Town, a teenager with HIV living outside Johannesburg, an "unabashedly hopeful" boy from the northern-most province), and President Zuma himself. Besides an array of other political figures, he speaks with doctors, journalists, even Condoleezza Rice. Rendering places as vividly as a travel book, Foster tucks in enough South African history for the reader to understand the backstory of his speakers. However engrossing as Foster's account is, the thicket of political intrigue surrounding Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa 1999-2008, and Zuma, and assorted internal ANC conflicts and controversies, remains impenetrable. Agent: David Black, David Black Agency. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Beyond what he calls the usual miracle and cataclysm narrative about the end of apartheid, Chicago journalism professor Foster presents a nonidealized but never cynical portrait of South Africa now, based on the long periods he has spent there since 2004, interviewing the country's top leaders and also many ordinary people across generations. He attends the official meetings and speaks often and at length with Mandela's successors, presidents Mbeki and Zuma, and confronts the controversies surrounding public policy and corruption. Just as important are his ongoing personal connections with today's young, including Mandela's grandson, Ndaba (an AIDS orphan, like millions of others); Zuma's daughter, Thuthu, about clashes over culture and the role of women; and also many kids in rough classrooms or living on the street. For the son of the white mayor of Cape Town, there is a sense of limitless opportunity. Contrast that with those still waiting for electricity, running water, even shelter. Foster was there for the wild celebration of the World Cup but asks, What now? Essential reading for anyone interested in South African affairs.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist