Thursday, March 1, 2012

Broun, Saving Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial and the Fate of South Africa

Saving Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial and the Fate of South Africa by Kenneth S. Broun has just been published by Oxford University Press in the series Pivotal Moments in World History.  With a taut 169 pages of text, and reasonably priced, this well-written account of an important moment in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa strikes me as valuable resource for course use, not only in legal history in Africa, but for courses on the role of law in social change.  Here's the book description:
When South Africa's apartheid government charged Nelson Mandela with planning its overthrow in 1963, most observers feared that he would be sentenced to death. But the support he and his fellow activists in the African National Congress received during his trial not only saved his life, but also enabled him to save his country.

In Saving Nelson Mandela, South African law expert Kenneth S. Broun recreates the trial--called the "Rivonia" Trial after the Johannesburg suburb where police seized Mandela. Based upon interviews with many of the case's primary figures and portions of the trial transcript, Broun situates readers inside the courtroom at the imposing Palace of Justice in Pretoria. Here, the trial unfolds through a dramatic narrative that captures the courage of the accused and their defense team, as well as the personal prejudices that colored the entire trial. The Rivonia trial had no jury and only a superficial aura of due process, combined with heavy security that symbolized the apartheid government's system of repression. Broun shows how outstanding advocacy, combined with widespread public support, in fact backfired on apartheid leaders, who sealed their own fate.

Despite his 27-year incarceration, Mandela's ultimate release helped move his country from the racial tyranny of apartheid toward democracy. As documented in this inspirational book, the Rivonia trial was a critical milestone that helped chart the end of Apartheid and the future of a new South Africa.
And the endorsements & a review:
 "A taut, intelligent analysis of a dramatic turning point in South African and, indeed, world history." -- Kirkus Reviews

"In this magnificent book, [Kenneth S. Broun] draws on his experience and expertise to bring to life the events and personalities of the 1963-64 Rivonia Trial...Meticulously documented and dramatically narrated, Broun's book makes a unique contribution to our understand of South Africa and the struggle for human rights." --Michael E. Tigar, Duke Law School

"Kenneth Broun does justice indeed to one of the most celebrated political trials of the 20th century...the result is not only a gripping story but a work of profound scholarship, sensitivity, and empathy." --Mark Gevisser, author of A Legacy of Liberation

"Part history, part sociology, part engrossing legal drama, this important book recounts a seminal moment in South Africa's history." --Penelope Andrews, City University of New York School of Law
Broun is also the author of Black Lawyers White Courts: Soul Of South African Law.