Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the War Against Apartheid

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Ruth agitated tirelessly for the overthrow of apartheid, first in South Africa and then from abroad, and Joe directed much of the armed struggle carried out by the famous Umkhonto we Sizwe. Only one of them, however, would survive to see the fall of the old regime and the founding of a new, democratic South Africa. This book, the first extended biography of Ruth First and Joe Slovo, is a remarkable account of one couple and the revolutionary moment in which they lived.

South Africa: Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the war agaist apartheid

By intertwining the documentary record with personal interviews, Wieder portrays the complexities and contradictions of this extraordinary couple and their efforts to navigate a time of great tension, upheaval, and revolutionary hope. A truly remarkable work. Alan Wieder shows himself as a writer equal to their life story, their inspiring bravery in action and self-analysis.

South Africa - Joe Slovo Profile

I loved meeting Ruth and Joe and all of the supporting characters again in its pages. A job well done.


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The South African victory over apartheid quickly became the stuff of legend: the power of good triumphing over the forces of evil, the mighty Nelson Mandela offering a beacon of hope to oppressed peoples the world around. True, true, and of course much more complicated in reality. Focusing on the lives of the colorful and contradictory revolutionaries Ruth First and Joe Slovo, Wieder provides detail and context, personality and character to one of the epic struggles of all time. This book is a gripping social history, a love song to the revolution, and a passionate and enlightening portrait of a partnership, a love-affair, and two extraordinary activists who cast their fates with the dreams of people everywhere for justice and freedom.

Demonized by apartheid, Joe and Ruth were revolutionary heroes for black South Africans.

Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the War against Apartheid · David Krut Bookstores

In London, as she started to become known as a public intellectual, she expounded a unique perspective on the South African political situation. She gave public speeches at Trafalgar Square, and her wide-ranging intellectual activity during this period included work on Frantz Fanon, and a study with Jonathan Steele of the London Guardian into the mutually supportive relationship between large-scale capitalism and the apartheid regime. When the couple returned to Africa to be more closely involved in the struggle in — Ruth First, in particular, was uncomfortable being so distant from the activists who remained in Africa — the difference between their methods became even clearer.

He learned from a number of revolutionary sources, applying their methods to the South African struggle. In he was part of a group of MK leaders who travelled to Vietnam to learn from the successful guerrilla war there. She aimed to find ways of teaching poor workers to apply socialist theory in practice.

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She regarded this as being the most productive period in her life. Given its wealth of detail, the wide range of interviews that Weider has conducted, and the letters to which he has been granted access, it deserves to remain the definitive biography of First and Slovo for a long time. In a study of this sort there is a delicate balance to maintain between the personal and the political lives of the subjects, but Weider renders both with clarity.

Their passion and commitment to the struggle becomes more comprehensible through the eyes of those who knew them closely.

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This timely book should be read by all who seek to understand the remarkable couple and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa in depth. Presented as archival content. Learn more.

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Unlike most articles on Britannica. Rather, they are presented on the site as archival content, intended for historical reference only.

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Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Nelson Mandela, black nationalist and the first black president of South Africa — His negotiations in the early s with South African Pres. Mandela and de….


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