The period of the book covers all of Alan Paton's writings, notably his other novels "Too Late the Phalarope" and "Ah, But Your Land is Beautiful", his biographies of J.H.Hofmeyr and Archbishop Geoffrey Clayton, his memoir on the life and death of his first wife Dorrie, and the first volume of his autobiography. His political life is covered too, notably his part in the founding and nurturing of the Liberal Party of South Africa, of which he became National Chairman, working closely with Leo Marquard, the Ballingers, Donald Molteno, Peter Brown, Edgar Brookes, Jordan Ngubane and Patrick Duncan. His encounters with the African leaders Albert Lutuli, Robert Sobukwe and Z.K.Matthews, and with the controversial priest Trevor Huddleston and Ambrose Reeves, are of special interest. He gives evidence in favour of Nelson Mandela and others at the Rivionia Trial and endures a savage cross-examination. He agonizes over the young members of the Liberal Party involved in the African Resistance Movement (A.R.M.) and its bombings. During his overseas travels he meets and assesses great men like Nehru, Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Niemoller. Through this autobiography runs his uncompromizing opposition to apartheid and its proponents, and at the same time his championship of the liberal tradition of justice, freedom and tolerance in striving towards a non-racial democracy in South Africa. Always he insists on the persistence of hope in the South African situation.
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In this sequel to Towards the Mountain , South African writer Paton describes the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 in which 69 protesters were killed, many shot in the back. But Paton, who died last April, concludes that H. F. Verwoerd, architect of apartheid, was not an evil man, merely arrogant and self-deluded. This straightforward memoir by the author of Cry, the Beloved Country starts in 1948 with the Afrikan Nationalist Party's seizure of power. Chronicling government harassment, torture and the passage of racial laws, Paton follows the Nationalists' tightening death-grip on a country "living on the slopes of a volcano." He writes in detail about the Liberal Party, of which he was founder and leader, defending it against critics who charge that it weakened the true opposition. Paton's testimony at the 1964 trial of Nelson Mandela, and his account of the Treason Trial (1956-61) in which hundreds of dissenters were arrested, are high points in this reenactment of his public life.
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