Leonard Thompson is Charles J. Stillé Professor of History Emeritus at Yale. His books include The Political Mythology of Apartheid and A History of South Africa. (May 1998)

Comparatively Speaking

She, and comparisons are odious. —John Donne, Elegies Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? —Shakespeare, Sonnet 18 Unlike musicologists, psychologists, and many other scholars, historians usually concentrate on a specific period and place, and feel that they can never learn enough about them. Those who spend …

South Africa: The Fire This Time?

In South Africa today, President F.W. de Klerk has disavowed apartheid and claims to be seeking a democratic solution; and Nelson Mandela, the effective leader of the African National Congress, has now agreed to negotiate with him. Allister Sparks’s The Mind of South Africa is a splendid guide to the …

Before the Revolution

Who is responsible for apartheid? That is the central question in the most challenging of recent books on southern Africa—King Solomon’s Mines Revisited by William Minter. Minter, a scholar and journalist who has lived and worked in Tanzania and Mozambique, harks back in his title to Rider Haggard’s immensely popular …

What Is To Be Done?

It is extremely difficult to comprehend the reality of apartheid. Despite the South African government’s efforts to shield us from its cruelties, we see evidence of them on television, we hear about them on the radio, we read about them in the daily press. But the realities are so weird, …

Diamonds Are Forever

South Africa defies comparison with other countries. It is unique not only in the persistence of its rigid racial divisions, but also in possessing the world’s greatest accumulations of gold and gem-quality diamonds. Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s book describes the activities of the men who clawed their way to the top in …