375pp., illus., hardback, d.w., Cambridge, 2020
From the 1960s until the early 1990s, the South African security police and counterinsurgency units collected over 7,000 photographs of apartheid’s enemies. Known as the “terrorist album,” copies were distributed to police stations throughout the country. Although all of the albums were ordered destroyed, three copies survived. With access to one of the surviving albums, South African historian and journalist Jacob Dlamini investigates the story behind the photographs: the origins of the images, how they were used, and the lives they changed. Dlamini interviewed former targets and their family members as well as collaborators and former members of the security police.
“A monumental work of remembrance… Dlamini’s writing is lucid and captivating, moving between historical fact and careful biographical reconstruction. It is an invaluable addition to the greater and ongoing project of restoring to South Africans a history that some sought to erase and evade.” Marianne Thamm, Daily Maverick
“The Terrorist Album is wise, humane, and thoroughly original. With one artifact, Jacob Dlamini opens worlds: of history, of biography, of the archive, of photography and philosophy. With characteristic flair and insight, he offers a compelling narrative of the workings of repressive violence and the way human beings are crushed by it, or manage to transcend it." Mark Gevisser, author of A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the future of the South African dream and Lost and Found in Johannesburg: a memoir
Jacob Dlamini is the author of Native Nostalgia and Askari: A story of collaboration and betrayal in the anti-apartheid struggle (winner of the Alan Paton Award). He is Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University and was previously political editor of Business Day in South Africa.