The Mirror at Midnight: 2a South African Journey

Adam Hochschild, Author Viking Books $19.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-83539-3
In a stunning blend of reportage, travelogue, history and meditation, Hochschild focuses on the Great Trek of 1836-1839, when Boer coastal settlers, armed with muskets, ox whips and Bibles, staked out the borders of modern South Africa. He reenacts the pivotal Battle of Blood River in 1838, in which countless Zulus were massacred, and explains how Dingane, tall, stout chief of the Zulus' military kingdom, was demonized later by white historians. Today the Great Trek is part of ``the 150-year-old national myth of Afrikaners- as-victims.'' Turning to reportage, Hochschild ( Half the Way Home ), who visited South Africa in 1988, interviewed the head of a neo-Nazi group, a ``coloured'' (racially mixed) teacher who spent 10 years in a black-only prison, and the four Watson brothers, rugby stars who have been targets of repeated assassination attempts for refusing to play on all-white teams. An epilogue covers events up to the present. One of the most illuminating books ever written on contemporary South Africa, this biopsy probes the racial divide in razor-sharp prose. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-14-011785-1
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-618-75825-8
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-547-52522-8
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