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Glenn Adler and Eddie Webster, eds., Trade Unions and Democratization in South Africa, 1985-1987 (Basingstoke and New York: Macmillan Press, 2000)
LET ME START by putting on record at the outset how enjoyable and stimulating this book was to read and review. It presents the reader with a dense and tightly argued text combined with original data as well as sources that are generally unavailable to academics, trade unionists, and commentators outside South Africa. Many chapters pay careful re-reading to take in their full worth. That is not to say that the collection is without some compelling weaknesses -- it has and these revolve around its chosen political perspectives and, ironically, its authors being too close to, and involved, in the events being studied. Nonetheless it is clearly a very welcome attempt to analyse a key period in modern South African history and contribute to the ongoing debate about the so-called 'New' South Africa and societal transformations.
The collection has its origins in the attempts by politically committed academics and commentators to both influence and analyze the course of resistance taken by organised labour in South Africa, in particular the move from militant abstentionism to political engagement within the unfolding of the …