The Unlikely Secret Agent

Ronnie Kasrils. Monthly Review, $14.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-58367-277-8
In 1963, officers of the South African Security Branch arrested a white woman, Eleanor, from the bookstore where she worked for her father. Under the new Ninety-Day Detention Act, they could hold and question her, without attorney or trial, almost indefinitely. The officers only suspected the extent of Eleanor’s activities: a member of the African National Congress rebel movement, she had imported banned books, organized unions, stolen and placed explosives, and delivered secret messages. Winner of South Africa’s Alan Paton Award, this loving portrait written by Kasrils, Eleanor’s husband and later the country’s minister of intelligence services, tells the harrowing and exhilarating story of her arrest and escape. Eleanor’s strength and resolve enabled her to negotiate a transfer from prison to a mental institution, from which she broke out. With the help of the ANC underground, she and her soon-to-be-husband, Kasrils, left the country. Unfortunately, Kasrils avoids examining the ANC’s tactics in light of either historical movements or current geopolitical contexts, and resists analyzing the sacrifices Eleanor made for the cause—living in exile for most of her life and separated from her young daughter for 12 years. Rather, the book is an extended eulogy for an activist whose perseverance inspired the ANC movement. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/09/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 192 pages - 978-1-58367-304-1
Ebook - 196 pages - 978-1-58367-278-5
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