What the critics say

The Big Fix will be released to reviewers in May 2016
Are you a reviewer? Please contact Jonathan Ball publishers to request a review copy.

Comments on my previous book – Ragged Glory
Nicolas van de Walle in Foreign Affairs
“More than 20 years have elapsed since Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as president of South Africa ushered in the postapartheid era. At the time, few observers predicted an easy path for a country with such a violent history and such enormous inequalities. Over the next decade, however, a relatively smooth transition to democracy and Mandela’s enormous personal appeal heightened expectations both inside and outside South Africa. It was almost inevitable that the government led by Mandela’s party, the African National Congress, would fail to meet those hopes. Hartley, a prominent South African political journalist, skillfully tells this story of emerging dissatisfaction. His authoritative account covers, among other things, the disastrous AIDS policy of Mandela’s successor as president, Thabo Mbeki; the various financial scandals that the senior ANC leadership has allowed to corrode public faith in government; and the poorly conceived, badly implemented economic policies that have resulted in mediocre economic growth and little change in prevailing levels of socioeconomic inequality.”

Richard Steyn in Business Day
“This is a book that will be savoured by anyone seeking to understand how and why SA has surrendered its hard-won moral authority.”

Peter Bruce, Editor-in-chief, Times Media Group
“An absolute peach of a book.”
“Without any malice or agenda, the full story so far … threaded together in a nice and easily readable narrative.”

Tim du Plessis, former editor of Rapport and Beeld
‘Refreshingly different from the spate of me-books on South Africa’s transition to democracy, Hartley the journalist and storyteller weaves the power play, the politics, the blunders and the intrigue of South Africa’s 20 wonder years into a readable, fluent tale.’

Tim Cohen, editor, Financial Mail
‘Ray Hartley’s spritely chronicle provides an indispensable guide for those unfamiliar with arguably South Africa’s most important era and contains surprising new anecdotes and insights for anyone who followed this unfolding drama.’

Peter Harris, author of In a Different Time and Birth
‘An exceptional account of our last twenty yeears. Searingly honest and incisive, Hartley reminds us that the tapestry of our democracy is illustrious but not without blemishes.’

David Smith, The Guardian:
Twenty years is a long time in the life of an individual but hardly a breath in the history of a nation. Yet from Mandela and Mbeki to Malema and Marikana, democratic South Africa has already seen much. Ray Hartley provides a clear-eyed, richly detailed account of the story so far. Fittingly the narrative begins at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994, a ‘miracle’ that ravished the world but contained the seeds of its own disproof. It then forensically guides us through subsequent disillusionment: the arms deal, the Aids denialism, the corrosive power struggles, the unkept promises.
Hartley draws on his own experience as an administrative official in the constitutional negotiations of the early 1990s and as a political correspondent and editor, as well as a judicious selection of the best biographies of the past two decades. He is sparing with his opinions and pithy in his judgments of the leading players. The result is a lucid and satisfying overview that will either be new to you or remind you how much you’ve forgotten. South Africa has a penchant for self-criticism that can border on the melodramatic, so this moderate voice of reason is welcome.

Greg Mills, The Brenthurst Foundation, author of Why Africa is Poor and Why States Recover:
‘Wise, courageous, and commanding a perspective measured by his decades on the frontline of South African journalism, Ray Hartley is uniquely situated to assess South Africa’s achievements and failures since 1994 and offer an invigorating conclusion: A winning formula combines the politics of the Mandela era with the policies of the Mbeki years.’

Bruce Denill, The Citizen
‘Not many of the current glut of political books – the 20-years-of-democracy anniversary has been littered with new releases – feature as much first-hand interaction with the subjects as Hartley provides, having travelled worldwide with Mandela and Mbeki.’


Andrew Donaldson, Politicsweb

‘Hartley’s succinct yet richly-detailed history of the democratic era.’


Alexander Matthews, Aerodrome

‘Ragged Glory is lucid, thoughtful and eloquent: a calm and smoothly digestible account of democratic South Africa’s political stage. Peppered with quotes from interviews Hartley did as a political reporter, the book explores the both the style and substance of post-apartheid South Africa’s leaders. There is Nelson Mandela’s reconciliatory approach and his bid to steady a listing economic ship, which had been battered by years of sanctions and disinvestment, and had a jittery business community eyeing the life-rafts. Hartley looks at Thabo Mbeki’s ascendance, the insanity of his Aids denialism, and his eventual downfall. Then there is Jacob Zuma’s astonishing — rise to power, and the legal tussles (involving accusations of rape and corruption) that has so far been unable to ensnare him.’

One thought on “What the critics say

  1. Pingback: Find out More About Ragged Glory by Ray Hartley | Jonathan Ball

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