• John D. Brewer


‘The fate of books’, wrote Terentianus Marus in ad 200 ‘depends on the capacity of the reader.’ By this I take it that he meant that some books are hardly ever read, some are read and quickly forgotten, while others create so many resonances for their readers that they survive the vagaries of time and fashion. R. W. Johnson’s book How Long Will South Africa Survive? was one of the latter.1 Of course, these resonances derive from many sources — fine prose, illuminating insight and convincing argument among them. Johnson’s reviewers found none of these. Many criticised the lack of documentation and citation that could have made his argument more persuasive. They found the style rather journalistic and the insights too few.2 But the general theme of a book can also give it influence, so that its resonances are to be found in its association with a recurring issue which is of continuing importance. There can be few topics of such universal interest as the survival of apartheid in South Africa, and Johnson’s book was the first directly to address this theme, and in many people’s minds has been associated with it ever since.


African National Congress White Supremacy Black Middle Classis South African State United Democratic Front 
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  1. 1.
    R. W. Johnson, How Long Will South Africa Survive?, London, Macmillan Press, 1977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    For a sample of the reviews see: Heribert Adam in the Canadian Journal of African Studies, 12, 1978;Google Scholar
  3. Valentine Belifiglio, ‘How Will Majority Rule Come About in Azania/South Africa?’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 21, 1983;Google Scholar
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    For the debate see among others: H. Adam and H. Giliomee, Ethnic Power Mobilized: Can South Africa Change?, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1979;Google Scholar
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  21. 7.
    A term taken from Kenneth Grundy, ‘The Rise of the South African Security Establishment’, Bradlow Paper no. 1, South African Institute of International Affairs, 1983.Google Scholar
  22. 8.
    For an extended discussion on the limits of ‘government-led reform’ see J. D. Brewer, After Soweto: An Unfinished Journey Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1987, pp. 45–50;Google Scholar
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  24. 9.
    For example, the Centre for Southern African Studies at the University of York held a conference in 1986 on ‘The Southern African Economy After Apartheid’, and Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley have written South Africa Without Apartheid, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1986.Google Scholar
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  31. H. Wolpe, ‘Apartheid’s Deepening Crisis’, Marxism Today, January 1983.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John D. Brewer 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • John D. Brewer
    • 1
  1. 1.The Queen’s University of BelfastUK

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