Award-winning journalist Alec Russell was in South Africa to witness the fall of apartheid and the remarkable reconciliation of Nelson Mandela’s rule; and returned in 2007-2008 to see Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki, fritter away the country’s reputation. South Africa is now perched on a precipice, as it prepares to elect Jacob Zuma as president — signaling a potential slide back to the bad old days of post-colonial African leadership, and disaster for a country that was once the beacon of the continent.

Drawing on his long relationships with all the key senior figures including Mandela, Mbeki, Desmond Tutu, and Zuma, and a host of South Africans he has known over the years — including former activists turned billionaires and reactionary Boers — Alec Russell’s Bring Me My Machine Gun is a beautifully told and expertly researched account of South Africa’s great tragedy: the tragedy of hope unfulfilled.

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