Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Road To Soweto by Julian Brown

The Road To Soweto: Resistance And The Uprising Of 16 June 1976 by Julian Brown
Published by James Currey in April 2016.

One of my WorldReads from South Africa.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the ebook from
Buy the hardback from The Book Depository
Buy the hardback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'This revisionary account of the Soweto Uprising of June 1976 and the decade preceding it transforms our understanding of what led to this crucial flashpoint of South Africa's history. Brown argues that far from there being "quiescence" following the Sharpeville Massacre and the suppression of African opposition movements, during which they went underground, this period was marked by experiments in resistance and attempts to develop new forms of politics that prepared the ground for the Uprising. Students at South Africa's segregated universities began to re-organise themselves as a political force; new ideas about race reinvigorated political thought; debates around confrontation shaped the development of new forms of protest. The protest then began to move off university campuses and on to the streets: through the independent actions of workers in Durban, and attempts by students to link their struggles with a broader agenda. These actions made protest public once again, and helped establish the patterns of popular action and state response that would come to shape the events in Soweto on 16 June 1976.'

Julian Brown is a Lecturer in the Department of Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg so was perfectly placed to research this detailed survey of the years between the Sharpeville Massacre and the Soweto Uprising. Other than having seen Cry Freedom and read Biko I didn't know much about this period of South African history and was pleased to learn a lot more whilst reading The Road To Soweto. The book is a particularly scholarly work, so quite dry in tone, and obviously expected its readers to already have a working knowledge of previous publications around the subject so I did find myself making leaps of understanding from time to time. The arguments for the progression of protest are well made though and I could clearly follow the links Brown made between the different organisations and movements. I wouldn't say that The Road To Soweto is a book that I enjoyed reading, but it was certainly rewarding to complete.

I know I have a South African novel about this historical period, Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dangor, waiting on my book shelf. My OH has read it and mentioned that he would have liked more background knowledge first. Hopefully The Road To Soweto will have provided me with that information!

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Julian Brown / History books / Books from South Africa

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