Shades of Difference: Mac Maharaj and the Struggle for South Africa

Padraig O'Malley, Author, Nelson Mandela, Foreword by . Viking $32.95 (648p) ISBN 978-0-670-85233-8

In this groundbreaking biography of a central figure in the fight to end South African apartheid, O'Malley draws on every aspect of Maharaj's life and the society in which he lived in order to understand South Africa's changing racial and political context over the past 100 years. Based on extensive interviews with Maharaj, this is an often harrowing read, recounting his torture as a political prisoner and the many difficulties and setbacks suffered by underground activists within and outside of South Africa. Maharaj—a first-person narrator in most of the book—comes across as an imperfect and deeply human hero, animated by his stubborn streak to devote his entire life to the cause. Few people have had a more eventful life, and the book has some of the flavor of spy vs. spy: "My blazer was stolen from the bedroom of our hideout. In the blazer, which was part of my disguise, was three thousand dollars. The blazer had my pocket diary, in the inside cover of which I had written key contact numbers." A lengthy foreword by Nelson Mandela touches on his relationship with Maharaj, his decision to make him minister of transport in the first free South African government, and the time they shared imprisoned on Robben Island. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/05/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 650 pages - 978-0-14-023224-0
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