Amy Biehl’s Last Home: A Bright Life, a Tragic Death, and a Journey of Reconciliation in South Africa

Steven D. Gish. Ohio Univ., $28.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8214-2321-9
The brutal killing of American Amy Biehl in Gugulethu township, South Africa, in 1993 by radical members of the Pan Africanist Students’ Organization, is the subject of this examination from historian Gish (Desmond Tutu: A Biography). The book begins with a straightforward account of Biehl’s short time in South Africa as a Fulbright Scholar that situates her death in the context of the rising violence that threatened to derail the country’s transition to democracy. The men accused of her murder were later granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a decision not opposed by Biehl’s parents. While Gish’s narrative of the events of this time is accurate, the material has all been covered before, and he does little to bring new perspective to it. He does, however, break new ground with his account of the establishment of the Amy Biehl Foundation, launched by Biehl’s parents to raise money for development projects in the townships (even hiring two of Amy’s killers as employees), and the speaking tours Biehl’s parents have gone on to promote reconciliation over retribution, which have not been previously written about by historians. Readers interested in reconciliation processes and justice movements will find this study illuminating and moving. Photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2018
Release date: 06/01/2018
Open Ebook - 392 pages - 978-0-8214-4634-8
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