Zapiro to Smuts to a Rare Bird Adventure – Last-Minute Ideas for Book Gifts

zapiro-bookRhodes Rage, by Zapiro

“In Zapiro’s 20th annual he skewers another momentous year including the drama over Rhodes and other statues, Nkandla pay back the money, spy cables, NPA shenanigans, Eskom and parastatal paralysis, union disunity, Charlie Hebdo, xenophobia, Juju’s boiler suit brigade, Godzille’s successor, cockroaches, Verwoerd’s ghost and other political creatures.”

capetown-bookThe Cape Town Book, a Guide to the City’s History, People and Places, by Nechama Brodie

“The Cape Town Book presents a fresh picture of the Mother City, one that brings together all its stories. From geology and beaches to forced removals and hip-hop, Nechama Brodie, author of the best-selling The Joburg book, has delved deeply into the hidden past of Cape Town to emerge with a lucid and compelling account of South Africa’s first city, its landscape and its people. The book’s 14 chapters trace the origins and expansion of Cape Town – from the City Bowl to the southern and coastal suburbs, the vast expanse of the Cape Flats and the sprawling northern areas.”

book-beaheroBe a Hero, Lessons for Living a Heroic Life, by Alan Knott-Craig


“Life is hard and times are tough, but don’t panic! All you need to do is be a hero – and you have in your hands the book that will help you do just that. By distilling the wisdom of many heroes (both past and present) in the form of rules, guides, cartoons and quotes, this book will: Teach you to fail with aplomb and laugh at yourself whilst doing so (and lots more)”

haffajee-bookWhat If There Were No Whites in South Africa? by Ferial Haffajee

“In What if there were no whites in South Africa? Ferial Haffajee examines South Africa’s history and present in the light of a provocative question that yields some thought-provoking discussion and analysis. From round-table discussions with influential South Africans, to research, personal thoughts and powerful anecdotes, Ferial takes the reader through the rocky terrain of race rage in our country and grapples with what it means to be South African in 2015.”

meter-bookIcarus, by Deon Meyer

“After 602 days dry, Captain Benny Griessel of the South African police services can’t take any more tragedy. So when Benny is called in to investigate a multiple homicide, it pushes him close to breaking point – a former friend and detective colleague has shot his wife and two daughters, then killed himself. Benny wants out – out of his job, his home and his relationship with his singer girlfriend, Alexa. He moves into a hotel and starts drinking. Again. But Benny’s unique talent is urgently required to help investigate another crime – the high profile murder of Ernst Richter, MD of a new tech startup, Alibi, whose body is discovered buried in the sand dunes north of Cape Town. Alibi is a service that creates false appointments, documents and phone calls to enable people to cheat on their partners. It has made Richter one of the most notorious people in South Africa. Can Benny pull together the strands of his life in time to catch the killer?”

smuts-bookJan Smuts Unafraid of Greatness, by Richard Steyn

“The author, a former editor of The Star, argues that Smuts’s role in the creation of modern South Africa should never be forgotten, not least because of his lifetime of devoted service to this country. The book draws a parallel between Smuts and President Thabo Mbeki, both architects of a new South Africa, much lionised abroad yet often distrusted at home.”

 

 

book-birdThe Search for the Rarest Bird in the World, by Vernon R.L. Head

“Part detective trail, part love affair and pure story telling at its best. In 1990 an expedition of Cambridge scientists arrived at the Plains of Nechisar, tucked between the hills of the Great Rift Valley in the Gamo Gofa province in the country of Ethiopia. On that expedition they collected twenty three species of small mammals, a rodent, a bat; three hundred and fifteen species of birds were seen, sixty nine species of butterfly were identified; twenty species of dragonflies and damselflies; seventeen reptile species were recorded; three frog species were filed; plants were listed. And the wing of a bird was packed into a brown paper bag. It was to become the most famous wing in the world.”

rhodes-bookThe Secret Society, Cecil John Rhodes’s Plan for a New World Order, by Robin Brown

“Cecil John Rhodes made a fortune from diamonds and gold, became prime minister of the Cape, and had a country named after him, but his ambitions were far greater than that. When he was still in his twenties, after a meeting with General Gordon of Khartoum, Rhodes set up a Secret society with the aim of establishing a new world order. The society, disciplined on Jesuit-style rules, became Rhodes’s lifelong obsession, and after his death it lived on and grew under the leadership of his executor, Lord Alfred Milner.”

book-gandhiThe South African Gandhi, Stretcher-Bearer of Empire, by Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed

“In the pantheon of freedom fighters, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi has pride of place. His fame and influence extend far beyond India and are nowhere more significant than in South Africa. “India gave us a Mohandas, we gave them a Mahatma,” goes a popular South African refrain. Contemporary South African leaders, including Mandela, have consistently lauded him as being part of the epic battle to defeat the racist white regime.

“The South African Gandhi focuses on Gandhi’s first leadership experiences and the complicated man they reveal—a man who actually supported the British Empire. Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed unveil a man who, throughout his stay on African soil, stayed true to Empire while showing a disdain for Africans. For Gandhi, whites and Indians were bonded by an Aryan bloodline that had no place for the African. Gandhi’s racism was matched by his class prejudice towards the Indian indentured. He persistently claimed that they were ignorant and needed his leadership, and he wrote their resistances and compromises in surviving a brutal labor regime out of history. The South African Gandhi writes the indentured and working class back into history.”

book-madamandeveMadam & Eve – Shed Happens, by Stephen Francis and Rico

“They’re back, and better than ever! This year sees the release of the twenty-third Madam & Eve, and it is another winner from this sharp and witty creative team. Featuring the humour South Africans have come to know and love, this Madam & Eve promises to be a laugh a minute, and it is sure to be a family favourite and welcome addition to any bookshelf.”

philip-bookBooks that Matter, David Philip Publishers During the Apartheid Years, by Marie Philip

“South Africa in the 1970s was a divided and increasingly traumatised country, seemingly permanently in the toils of apartheid, and with little space available for open discussion of apartheid policies or awareness of just what those policies were meaning in the lives of people. It was in this context that David Philip, a South African already involved for several years in publishing, became convinced there must be more opportunity for books with informed discussion and debate to be written and published within the country. He persuaded his wife Marie, also with publishing experience, that they could together set up their own independent publishing company, to publish ‘Books that matter for Southern Africa’ – in social history, politics, literature, or whatever, good of their kind and ready to challenge mainstream apartheid thinking.”

hadeda-bookHagedash the Hadeda, by Claire Norden and Charles de Villiers

“A captivating story, told in rhyming verse, about a hadeda who loves to sing. Hagedash and her family will be familiar characters to children across the country – the cast is drawn from the comical birds they see every day on garden lawns. The text offers insight into the real-life traits and habits of hadeda’s and tells the story of Hagedash, her happy meeting with Hagar and their growing family. The initially tranquil scene builds up to a great commotion, but it all ends peacefully.”

book-wildlifeThe Wild Album of Africa, by Lauren Baheux

“Many have tried to convey the true spirit of Africa’s animals in words, photography, or in music. There may be no challenge greater; Africa’s fauna are vast in number and rich in diversity. In this finely crafted collection, French photographer Laurent Baheux uses the medium of black-and-white photography to capture the intricate details of both the wondrous beasts and the magnificent settings in which they dwell. This wide-ranging volume lays particular emphasis on his subjects’ individual spirits—revealing all of their vulnerability while losing nothing of their raw vitality. Every photograph is so carefully composed and well lit that the details equal the evocative precision of an Old Masters portrait. Through Baheux’s eyes we get close to creatures that will both inspire and humble us all.”