Biographies are among my favourite reading. It is why I enjoyed this book so much, even though the life stories it tells of 11 extraordinary South Africans are in the form of relatively brief biographical essays. It features characters from the 19th and 20th centuries, whose backgrounds are as diverse as the imprints they left on South African history. What binds them together is extraordinary will power. Tiyo Soga, for instance, heralded from the war-torn borderlands of 19th century Eastern Cape to return from Scotland as an ordained priest. At about the same time, John Montagu acquired admiration and vilification in equal measure as a British colonial officer. In World War I, Pat Pattle won fame for his exploits as a fighter pilot. Lilian Ngoyi rose from deep rural South Africa to become a leading anti-apartheid campaigner. And then there are the enigmatic sporting figures of Danie Craven and Eddie Barlow who each left an indelible mark. What an insight the book offers into the richness of our past.
Edited by: Vivian Bickford-Smith and Bill Nasson Reviewer: Leon Marshall Publisher: Penguin Random House Price: R280 ISBN: 978-1-77609-264-2 Giveaway code: BIOGRAPHIES