A History of South Africa, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


`A remarkable feat of scholarship, fairness and readability, full of lively detail with a freshness of style which brings new life to the narrative' Anthony SampsonThroughout its turbulent history, South Africa has frequently been the focus of worldwide attention - usually hostile.

Yet prejudice and ignorance about the country are widespread.

The evolution of the present-day `Rainbow Nation' has taken place under conditions of sometimes extreme pressure.

Since long before the arrival of the first European settlers in the seventeenth century, the country has been home to a complex and uneasily co-existing blend of races and cultures, and successive waves of immigrants have added to the already volatile mixture.Despite the euphoria which greeted the dismantling of the apartheid system and the election as President of Nelson Mandela in April 1994, South Africa's history, racial mix and recent political upheavals suggest it will not easily free itself from the legacy of its tumultuous past.

Newly revised and updated, Frank Welsh's vividly written, even-handed and authoritative history casts new light on many of South Africa's most cherished myths.

Like his A History of Hong Kong, it will surely come to be regarded as definitive.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 656 pages, 32 b/w plates (32pp), (4 x 8pp), Index
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: African history
  • ISBN: 9780006384212



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An interesting history of South Africa, at least since colonial times, by an English speaker. It challenges some of the myths, notably that there was nobody in South Africa except the San people (formerly known as bushmen or Hottentots) when white settlers first came. According to this myth, black Africans migrated into South Africa no earlier than the whites and therefore have no more historical claim to the land than the whites do. Welsh demonstrates that it was only in the current Western Cape Province where the whites first settled that the land was "empty" except for the San people; the rest of what is now South Africa was indeed already populated by black Africans by the time the whites expanded there.