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Jan 25, 2015

A week or so ago I finished A Just Defiance: The Bombmakers, the Insurgents and a Legendary Treason Trial by Peter Harris. I initially thought it was about the Rivonia trail of Nelson Mandela when I picked it up, but its about another trial of members of the ANC's military wing in 1987. Peter Harris was one of their defence lawyers and the trial ended up becoming a test case for defence of anti Apartheid activities. The four accused openly admitted they were guilty of the charges but refused to cooperate because they believed themselves to prisoners of war.

The case would drag on through the courts and eventually link into the exposure of police hit squads. Its a recounting of how the South African police and courts system worked under the Apartheid regime but is easy to follow and explains most of the legal jargon. In addition the book details the counter insurgency operations of the SADF and the extensive intelligence and military operations the ANC MK carried out. It also contains biographical sketches of all six men of the MK cell (two were killed before the trial) and their families. It contains very interesting details and accounts of life in the townships, the waves of repression, the general racism, the poverty and what motivates a young man to leave his home and spend years in camps learning how to assassinate and plant bombs. The narrative is broken up with a point by point recounting of a special police operation against one of Harris's clients.

I won't lie this was one of those books I had on the shelf for months, but once I took the plunge and started reading I couldn't put it down, finished it in two days.


Jan 6, 2003

I'm currently reading Sound Man by Glyn Johns. He was the producer and engineer on a shitload of classic albums from the 60's through the 90's. It's interesting but it has a lot less technical detail than I was expecting (and wanted), it's more about the personalities of various musicians and producers and other industry people and, every once in a while, a bit of explanation of some particularly weird or funny technique used in some particular song (for example there's a story about a Stones song that uses the sound of police batons being banged together which were borrowed from a couple of cops who walked into the studio unannounced one night)

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