Nelson Mandela's inauguration as president of South Africa in 1994 seemed to usher in an age of peaceful, rational change. But R.W. Johnson's major new book explains how this was not to be. The profound damage of apartheid and the country's new leaders – in exile or prison for much of their adult lives – were a disastrous combination that poisoned everything from big business to education and AIDS policy to relations with Zimbabwe.
At the heart of the book lies the figure of Thabo Mbeki, who presidency led to catastrophic failure on almost every front. In South Africa's Brave New World Johnson reveals how Mbeki and those around him brought South Africa close to 'failed state' status – and explores the implications for its future under Jacob Zuma.