As with all of Michener’s books there is a lot to think about and a lot to absorb and it seems that it is only through some magical feat that he is able to write so immensely about the history of a place over such a grand span of time.In this book in particular the history of South Africa from Cape Town to Zimbabwe area, starting as far back as the days of wandering cave dwellers to the 1980’s approximately.I learned a lot about South Africa and it brought me both great joy at the interesting twists and turns of history and also great horror at the wickedness that I was so ignorant of up until that point. It is worse in the style that Michener writes in for with him he writes in story format and because of that it is not just a bunch of facts being presented to you but also a more vivid view of the lives people lived. Though with his books some of the story is fictional, in the end the bigger picture is all a historical outline. He has that talent for mixing both history and the beauty a enjoyable aspects of a good story into one things which makes you want to dive in for more. After three weeks of reading his 1,235 page book on the history of South Africa I had to step back for a way and really think about it all. I wanted to do this post a day or so ago but I was still mulling over all of the ideas I encountered in the book. I am still struck by his beautiful descriptions of the flamingos rising from the lakes, and the seemingly never ending herds of wild cattle. I am still haunted by the perfect way he described the tall baobab trees and the ritualistic ways of the early tribes. In tandem though I am also chilled by the horrific deeds of these same tribes, the skewering of those they deemed brought trouble upon the tribes or the inhumanity in events such as Blood River. I am saddened by the evil of apartheid and the injustice of the “Afrikaner” against all other races. The separation, the segregation, the control and the torture associated with it all is something I cannot allow myself to forget. Yet it is because I read this wonderful book that I now find myself eager to learn more about this history and to act continually out of love because I know now more then ever that love prevails in the end. James wrote a book that haunted me with these images both good and frightening, but I am thankful for that because the good I will cherish as sweet visions and the bad I will use to remind myself that i must always do whatever I can do stop human violence and wickedness.
While the entire book brought something forth for me, it was really the last page which said something so ….what is the right word…. so…. glistening as far as truth that I had to share that small exert with you, though out of context you may be a little confused. Yet I think perhaps you ought to go read it for yourself because this book is a nine on my scale and a book that I believe is one we all ought to read sometime in our lives.
Detritus, that’s the word.The awful accumulation of wrong decisions, improper turns.You scrap away the excrescences of history–the hangings of Slagter’s Neck, the awfulness of the prison camps, the sins we’ve committed with apartheid- and maybe you get down to the bedrock of human society, where diamond hide. God of my fathers, how I wish you could bring in the psychological drills and probe down to bedrock…
Kimberlite! This nation of mine will gamble a billion rand to find the next kimberlite in hopes of that diamond will be uncovered. But it won’t spend ten rand to find the kimberlite of the human soul. We’ll turn the clock back a billion years to find gems worth absolutely nothing in a reasonable world, but we ignore the flint-hard gems in the human conscience that are worth all the raw money in the world.
I am going to leave you with that. And await your comments about this amazing novel.
Thank you as always for reading.
-Wishing you the brightest of days,Eva
” Me and the pen, we are one. If its ink would cease to flow, my ink would cease to flow.”