50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa Paperback – Feb 1 2011
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About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"50 People" has flaws. It isn't great literature but it's damn good satire. Alex Parker writes fluently and well for a fast-paced read. If you buy it as a toilet book you're going to spend a lot more time on the throne than you planned.
Parker takes aim at some dangerous targets and I'd be surprised if he doesn't get death threats. Naïvete or courage?
The book is flawed by some strange inclusions. Kevin Pietersen's a twit but so what? He isn't a lead character. He's an extra, or is it a bye? (Perhaps Mrs. Parker remarked that KP is quite good-looking.)
Sol Kerzner? Are you mad, Alex? He's our hero!
The bitter expat and the polo guy? Probably included to add a white balance to the collection.
The exclusions harm the book even more. Winnie, Nkosazana Z, and Robert McBride surely deserved their chance at the limelight.
Parker totally fails to mention Essop Pahad's greatest stuff-up, namely Outcomes Based Education, creating a new Lost Generation to match and even outdo the tragedy of the Soweto rioters.
I don't mean this as criticism. I'm hoping that Alex and his editor, Tim Richman, will take my comments into account when drafting the second edition.
Alex Parker did not intend the book to be taken too seriously. He happily indulges in wild exaggeration, unfounded rumour, and glib assumptions, but it's all in a spirit of challenge.
F'example in the Mark Thatcher profile Parker praises the SA Police for their excellent detective work. (Completely straight-faced too.)
If you don't agree with some, many, or any of his statements (HECK but he writes a lot of opinionated drivel), stop and think how you would go about refuting him. Not easy, is it? You just sort of generally took it for granted that everybody knows that...
So you thought you knew South Africa. Huh. Buy this book.
Some notable omissions are:
Mangosuthu “Gatsha” Buthelezi (Prince, Film star, Political thug, Orator).
The Gupta family, mentioned several times but deserve their own entry.
Aziz Pahad, bro of Essop, who believed that if a country had “Democratic” in its name it was democratic.
Alexander Steward (SA’s own Lord Haw-Haw) who placated English-speaking Nats.
Dennis Worral (of tricameral bathroom fame) may also warrant a mention.