n Historia - Another example of the power of the biography
The Death of an Idealist: In Search of Neil Aggett, Beverley Naidoo : book review

Volume 59, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



Beverley Naidoo's is at once an intimate account of the author's attempt to discover a distantly known first cousin, as well as a story of the late years of apartheid. The book intertwines personal narrative with public history, to offer another example of the power of the biography as a mode of historical analysis, at once able to capture a society in microcosm while drawing in the historical macro. In her explanation for writing the book, the author recounts hearing the news of the death of Neil Aggett in police custody in 1982, while she was living in exile in England. Her return to South Africa, resurfacing her own history as a political prisoner who had left for exile in the 1960s, are the launch pads for the "search for Neil Aggett".

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