... is available today only in e-book format for just $1.99.
If you want to understand something of apartheid-era South Africa, Rian Malan's book "My Traitor's Heart" is one of the few volumes I regard as indispensable.
Mr. Malan writes as an Afrikaner whose eyes were opened in his youth to the folly and impracticality of the apartheid system - but he didn't fully grasp its actual, innate evil until he returned to South Africa as an adult. His book is a searing memoir of awakening, a documentary of the murderous blind hatred that overtook so many groups and individuals in South Africa during the 1980's and 1990's, and at the same time a vision of hope that has sadly remained unfulfilled . . . at least, so far.
The blurb reads:
Rian Malan’s classic work of reportage, My Traitor’s Heart is at once beautiful, horrifying, and profound in ways that earned him comparisons to Michael Herr and Ryszard Kapuściński and inspired the London Times to call him “South Africa’s Hunter S. Thompson.” An Afrikaner, Malan is the scion of a centuries-old clan deeply involved in the creation of apartheid. As a young crime reporter, he covered the atrocities of an undeclared race war and ultimately fled the country, unhinged by what he had seen.
Eight years later, he returns to confront his own demons, and those that are tearing his country apart. With unflinching candor, Malan explores the grizzly violence and perverse rationalizations at the root of his nation’s identity.
Written in the final years of apartheid’s bloody collapse, My Traitor’s Heart still resonates, offering a “passionate, blazingly honest testament” to the darkest recesses of the black and white South African psyches. “Those who read it will never again see South Africa the same way” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).
I can't recommend this book too highly. If you have any interest at all in a country torn apart by racism and xenophobia, particularly in the light of the divisions increasingly apparent in these United States, you owe it to yourself to read it. If you miss today's e-book special price, it's still worth buying at full price. I have three hardback copies, in order to have spares to lend to friends, which gives you some idea of how much I value it. I was there through many of the events he describes, and I can confirm that his account rings true.
"My Traitor's Heart" isn't light or easy reading, and may make you feel very uncomfortable in parts, but it'll make you aware of the realities of a terminally divided society as few others will.