Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid

William Finnegan, Author HarperCollins Publishers $20.95 (418p) ISBN 978-0-06-015570-4
In one of the best recent books on South Africa, an American vividly recalls his experiences as a white teacher of black students near Cape Town and intersperses more detached descriptions of what was going on under apartheid. Finnegan wanted attentive, disciplined students at the same time that he encouraged in them a radical skepticism, a critical, independent habit of mind, a combative approach to all forms of vested authority. He tried to counsel his students to aim high and work hard, and he often met with hostility. Within that one year, he became acutely aware of how rapidly they were becoming more active in boycotts and protests and forming an essential element of a growing revolutionary movement. He shows how the Afrikaners' hatred for African children has led to bloody massacres and how their fear is an unspoken, unconscious recognition that communal violence is retribution for the countless blacks killed and maimed over the years. A final section describing Finnegan's long hitch-hiking trip with a bitter, white-hating, 18-year-old black woman beautifully shows the apartheid situation in microcosm. (September 10)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1986
Release date: 08/01/1986
Paperback - 418 pages - 978-0-06-091430-1
Paperback - 434 pages - 978-0-520-08872-6
Paperback - 434 pages - 978-0-89255-325-9
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