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The true story of a case that broke a South African town - by BBC Africa Correspondent

"This is a book of profound importance. Through its pages there runs a deep and sympathetic understanding of a troubled country. A masterpiece" ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH

"Utterly gripping, timely and shocking" PHILIPPE SANDS

"A smartly paced true-crime thriller with a vivid cast of characters . . . as tense as it is disturbing" JOHN CARLIN, author of Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation

"Look what the fucking dogs did to them, someone muttered. No-one mentioned the rope, or the monkey-wrench, or the gun, or the knife, or the stick, or the whip, or the blood-stained boots. In fact, no-one said much at all. It seemed simpler that way. There was no sense in pointing fingers.'"

At dusk, on a warm evening in 2016, a group of forty men gathered in the corner of a dusty field on a farm outside Parys in the Free State. Some were in fury. Others treated the whole thing as a joke - a game. The events of the next two hours would come to haunt them all. They would rip families apart, prompt suicide attempts, breakdowns, divorce, bankruptcy, threats of violent revenge and acts of unforgivable treachery.

These Are Not Gentle People is the story of that night, and of what happened next. It's a murder story, a courtroom drama, a profound exploration of collective guilt and individual justice, and a fast-paced literary thriller.

Award-winning foreign correspondent and author Andrew Harding traces the impact of one moment of collective barbarism on a fragile community - exploding lies, cover-ups, political meddling and betrayals, and revealing the inner lives of those involved with extraordinary clarity.

The book is also a mesmerising examination of a small town trying to cope with a trauma that threatens to tear it in two - as such, it is as much a journey into the heart of modern South Africa as it is a gripping tale of crime, punishment and redemption.

When a whole community is on trial, who pays the price?

 

Details

ISBN: 9781529405590
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 288
Publication Date: 1 Oct 2020
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Publication City, Country: London, United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 23.2(H) x 15.2(L) x 3(W)
Weight (gm): 340

 

Reviews

This is a book of profound importance. Through its pages there runs a deep and sympathetic understanding of a troubled country. A masterpiece.

Utterly gripping, timely and shocking

A smartly paced true-crime thriller with a vivid cast of characters . . . as tense as it is disturbing, richly evoking the mood of a dark, dry place in the heart of South Africa where racial fear lingers, brutal rage flares and everyone remains trapped in the cruel coils of history.

Every so often a book comes very close to defining a nation. In this extraordinary, fast-paced and exquisitely written true story, South Africa's brutal and divided past, its complex present and contested future collide in an explosive narrative of race, class and human cruelty. This is In Cold Blood meets Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Believe me, Andrew Harding has given us an instant classic.

Andrew Harding is one of the great foreign correspondents

These Are Not Gentle People is a South African tragedy. Page after page reveals the painful truth, that the sun has set on Mandela's Rainbow Nation . . . The lives of the characters, from the landless and poor blacks, to the white landowners caught in a vortex of fear and oblivion, are a true reflection of South Africa's unfinished business - building a country that belongs to all . . . A gripping and painful read, told with empathy and nuance. These Are Not Gentle People, is an uncomfortable reminder that the past is not over.

[A] searing examination of a small town trying to cope with a trauma that threatens to tear it apart" - Sunday Times (South Africa)

 

Author Biography

Andrew Harding left London in 1991, aged twenty-four, and has lived and worked abroad as a foreign correspondent ever since. He spent a decade in the former Soviet Union before moving to east Africa and then to Singapore as the B.B.C.'s Asia correspondent. Since 2009, he has been the B.B.C.'s Africa correspondent. He has reported from numerous conflict zones, including Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, D.R. Congo, Burma, Central African Republic, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire and Libya, winning many awards including an Emmy. Andrew is married, with three sons. He is the author of The Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia (2016).
These Are Not Gentle People: As heard on BBC R4 as "BLOOD LANDS"
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