‘They Cannot Kill Us All’ (Magill Book Reviews)
Richard Manning’s 1986 NEWSWEEK cover story on South Africa’s escalating civil war earned for him an expulsion order after he had been in the country less than a year. Nine months was long enough, however, for this energetic journalist to interview an amazing variety of individuals across the political spectrum; it was also long enough for Manning to fall hopelessly in love with the beautiful, maddening country that is South Africa.
South Africa is a sort of moral and political Rubik’s cube: Though solutions are frustratingly hard to find, the puzzle hooks one, draws one in. Manning’s treatment of the complexities of his subject is strongest when he maintains a degree of journalistic distance, letting facts speak for themselves. His simple recitation of statistics regarding Soweto is heartrending: “Tuberculosis occurs as frequently as the common cold in New York or Los Angeles.... In the Diepkloof section of Soweto, families sleep four to a house. Four families: one to each room.” There is real insight in the discussion of the guilt-ridden paralysis of upper-class Anglos (English-speaking whites). The short biography of Nelson Mandela shines, and Manning’s reflections on South Africa’s future and on United States policy are thought-provoking.
Several mannerisms of Manning’s style, however, are extremely annoying and distracting. For some reason, he interrupts even the most eloquent speeches of his interviewees with...
(The entire section is 340 words.)
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