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We Are Not Such Things: The Murder of a Young American, a - download pdf or read online

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By Justine van der Leun

ISBN-10: 0812994507

ISBN-13: 9780812994506

A gripping research within the vein of the podcast Serial—a summer time nonfiction decide through Entertainment Weekly and The Wall road Journal

Justine van der Leun reopens the homicide of a tender American lady in South Africa, an iconic case that calls into query our figuring out of fact and reconciliation, loyalty, justice, race, and class.

“Timely . . . gripping, explosive . . . the type of obsessive forensic investigation—of the clues, and into the soul of society—that is the legacy of intellectual sleuths from Truman Capote to Janet Malcolm.”The ny occasions ebook Review

“A masterpiece of pronounced nonfiction . . . Justine van der Leun’s account of a South African homicide is destined to be a classic.”—Newsday

the tale of Amy Biehl is widely known in South Africa: The twenty-six-year-old white American Fulbright pupil was once brutally murdered on August 25, 1993, throughout the ultimate, fiery days of apartheid via a mob of younger black males in a township open air Cape city. Her mom and dad’ forgiveness of 2 of her killers grew to become an emblem of the reality and Reconciliation technique in South Africa. Justine van der Leun determined to introduce the tale to an American viewers. yet as she delved into the case, the existing narrative began to resolve. Why didn’t the eyewitness studies agree on who killed Amy Biehl? have been the lads convicted of the homicide truly liable for her loss of life? after which van der Leun stumbled upon one other brutal crime devoted at the comparable day, within the exact same quarter. the genuine tale of Amy Biehl’s demise, it became out, was once not just a narrative of forgiveness yet a mirrored image of the complex background of a bothered country.

We aren't Such Things is the results of van der Leun’s four-year research into this unusual, knotted story of injustice, violence, and compassion. the weird twists and turns of this example and its aftermath—and the tale that emerges of what occurred on that fateful day in 1993 and within the a long time that followed—come jointly in an unsparing account of existence in South Africa this day. Van der Leun immerses herself within the lives of her topics and paints a stark, relocating portrait of a township and its citizens. We come to appreciate that the problems on the middle of her research are common in scope and robust in resonance. We usually are not Such Things unearths how reconciliation is most unlikely with no an acknowledgment of the previous, a lesson as suitable to the United States this present day as to a South Africa nonetheless being affected by the lengthy shadow of its history.

Praise for We aren't Such Things

“[Van der] Leun probes the characterization of [Amy] Biehl as a martyr to the reason for black South African liberation, and examines the homicide, the rigors, and the afterlives of witnesses, detectives, and the accused. She monitors beautiful insights into the internal lives of these concerned, the erasure of shameful histories, and the stresses of absolution with no accountability.”The New Yorker

“Moving . . . a really beneficial and infrequently confounding account of a small slice of post-apartheid, post-Mandela South Africa, a rustic that has principally been forgotten within the foreign maelstrom of terrorism and mass migration. it's a tale of annoyed expectancies, damaged goals, endemic greed and corruption, but in addition indomitable human spirit, informed opposed to the backdrop of 1 of the world’s most pretty usual settings.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Unforgettable . . . a gripping narrative that examines the messiness of fact, the illusory nature of reconciliation, [and] the all too frequently fake promise of justice.”The Boston Globe

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Extra resources for We Are Not Such Things: The Murder of a Young American, a South African Township, and the Search for Truth and Reconciliation

Sample text

Every day across the country there were 502 assaults, 475 robberies, 172 sexual offenses, 47 murders, and 31 carjackings. Every day, 714 houses were burgled, 202 businesses were robbed, and 349 cars were broken into. Instead of seeing these daily terrors as the result of tyranny, many South African whites came to associate them with the enduring swaart gevaar, or black danger. The threat of the swaart gevaar—the concept of an overwhelming and inherently bloodthirsty black majority that needed to be contained lest it consume everything in its path—had been used to persuade a white electorate to vote into power in 1948 the National Party, whose platform came to be known as apartheid.

But when I settled in Cape Town for two years, I found the city disconcerting. I landed in a white enclave by the seaside, where my husband’s Jewish family and their insular, tight-knit community lived in the houses typical of well-off South Africans: pale-colored cement rectangles surrounded by high walls lined with barbed coils, electric shock wire, or shards of broken glass. The white Capetonians I met at first had been raised in a country steeped in racist policy and educated according to a racist curriculum.

She wore wire-rim glasses and long colorful earrings. I stood away from the group and leaned against a white sedan. Mzi Noji, a middle-aged, unemployed ex-militant, ex-con, and army veteran, arrived on foot, wearing his green cap, embroidered with the phrase UNIVERSAL MESSAGE over a Rastafarian flag. Mzi was a lifelong social activist, raised during the height of the anti-apartheid struggle. Even today, when he claimed that he wanted to get on with his life, he continually found himself embroiled in protests, marches, negotiations, meetings, neighborhood committees, and organizations.

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We Are Not Such Things: The Murder of a Young American, a South African Township, and the Search for Truth and Reconciliation by Justine van der Leun


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