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Good reads in a nutshell




Milton Shain, A Perfect Storm – Anti-Semitism in South Africa 1930 – 1948, Jonathan Ball Publishers, R275


Prof Milton Shain, a leading scholar of Jewish history in South Africa, has written a study that is both erudite and readable of the years before the National Party (NP) came into power in 1948 and the rise of anti-Semitism in the 1930s.

He focuses not only on the NP which saw several of its anti-Semitic leaders of the time rising to high office after 1948, but also on Afrikaner mass movements, such as the Ossewa Brandwag and the Grey Shirts, all of whom were sympathetic to Nazi Germany. This is an important contribution to the study of the anti-Semitism so prevalent in this period.


Graff, Rizzoli New York, 2015, R1 350


This lavish coffee-table publication features the story of the House of Graff Diamonds, founded in London in 1960 by Laurence Graff, OBE, a self-taught gemmologist. After more than six decades, and with stores worldwide, the House of Graff is at the pinnacle of luxury jewellery.

His work includes a 1970 advertisement of a model with a million dollars worth of gems woven throughout her elaborate hairdo, which was revisited in a 2013 update featuring 500 million dollars of gems to commemorate his 60 years in business. These are among the 193 photos in the book.

All Graff’s proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to its charitable foundation, FACET, which supports the education, health and wellbeing of the people of sub-Saharan Africa.


Solly Kaplinski, A World of Pains, A Redemptive Parable, Amazon, $15


Solly Kaplinski, a former headmaster of Cape Town’s Herzlia Middle School, has lived in Israel for several years.   

A World of Pains, his third book, focuses on long repressed memories which suddenly surface for a highly successful lawyer who has to confront brutal crimes he committed in the Ponar forests during the Shoah. The book deals with personal accountability and the banality of evil.

Stephen D Smith, executive director of the University of California Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles (who is associated with Steven Spielberg), has written a foreword.


Tova Herzl, Madame Ambassador: Behind the Scenes with a Candid Israeli Diplomat, published in South Africa by Juta


Tova Herzl was Israeli ambassador to South Africa at the turn of the century, returning to Israel in 2003. Born in Israel but educated in this country – her Holocaust survivor parents from Hungary were Hebrew teachers here for several years – her diplomatic postings included Riga in Latvia, Washington DC and Pretoria.

She has written a frank account of her life and experiences as a diplomat, which covered several scandals in Israel and the notorious 2001 anti-racism conference in Durban.

Herzl covers both the glamour of a diplomatic career and several distinctly unglamorous aspects of diplomacy.


African Accountability: What Works and What Doesn’t, Steven Gruzd and Yarik Turianskyi eds, SA Institute of International Affairs and SDC, R200


African Accountability: What Works and What Doesn’t is a survey of political accountability in Africa today. It focuses on political and social aspects to assess the current state of governance and accountability in Africa. The editors have tried to adopt a balanced, Afro-realistic view, giving credit where it is due, while also pointing out deficient areas that need improvement. 

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela wrote the book’s foreword.

The book was published by SAIIA in partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).


Rabbi Tzedek (Siggy) Suchard, Life Skills and Lessons from the Weekly Portion and Festivals, (available from Kollel and Chabad bookshops) R285



This guide to living life to the full is based on Rabbi Suchard’s many years as a rabbi both in a congregation and as a dayan on the Beth Din.

The book contains a wealth of practical advice and examples from a Torah perspective, based on lessons from the weekly parsha and the Jewish festivals.

It offers advice on dealing with difficult situations and provides life skills for handling anger, health, parenting and faith issues.




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