500pp., illus., paperback, Second Edition, Johannesburg, (1998) 2022
Winner of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction writing.
Includes a new preface by the author.
Braam Fischer was born in 1908 into a prominent Afrikaner nationalist family, and became a Rhodes scholar and a distinguished lawyer. He joined the South African Communist Party in the 1940s and was elected Chairman in 1953, after the party had been banned and gone underground. Together with Issey Maisel and others, he played an integral role in the Treason Trial (1956-1961), where Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists were acquitted. In 1964 he led the defense of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and others in the Rivonia trial. In 1966 Fischer was sentenced to life imprisonment for furthering the aims of communism and conspiring to overthrow the government. He died in 1975, after being diagnosed with cancer in prison.
"A fascinating and original story of the ife and times of a great South African ... It is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of a modern South African history." Professor Tom Karis
"An astonishingly good book ... [Clingman] is thorough in his research, balanced in his assessments and elegant in his presentation." Professor Peter Alexander
Stephen Clingman is the author of The Novels of Nadine Gordimer: History from the inside, and editor of Nadine Gordimer's The Essential Gesture: Writing, politics and places. Born in South Africa, he is currently Chair of the English Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.