Nelson and Winnie Mandela, 1990 © TT News Agency/ Alamy

In this issue

At first glance the country looked like an earthly paradise. Earlier this year my table in a Cape Town restaurant had a view of Table Mountain across lush, well-ordered gardens. The crisp white wine and the food were cheap and delicious. Then suddenly came the reality check. Phut – out went the lights, until the back-up generator clicked into life. Most poor people don’t enjoy the luxury, enduring hours of blackouts daily, or “load shedding”, as it is euphemistically termed. Welcome to South Africa, where the ruling party, the ANC, has wrecked the power company and much else. Just the other year tens of thousands of dollars were found down the back of the new “reformist” president’s sofa. The fall of the revolting apartheid regime and the triumph of Nelson Mandela seemed to herald a happy future. But even at this bright beginning in the 1990s there was a ray of gloom, says Jonny Steinberg’s Winnie & Nelson: Portrait of a marriage, reviewed for the TLS by Andrew Harding.

Steinberg’s account draws on 15,000 pages of taped conversations with Mandela, some conducted on the record, others bugged. It reveals that Mandela’s marriage to Winnie was a nightmare, marked by mutual infidelity and soured by her violent, drunken behaviour while he languished in prison. Winnie’s sponsorship of a gang of thugs called the Mandela United Football Club led to the deaths of a number of innocents. On his release Mandela and the ANC fixed Winnie’s trial for her involvement in the murder of a fourteen-year-old boy. The serpent was present in paradise at the Creation.

In those happy days western governments thought that “the Goldilocks economy” – moderate growth balanced by low inflation – would last for ever. Smart central bankers, independent of malign political interference, would see to it. Alas, as Stephen D. King’s We Need to Talk about Inflation suggests, unelected financial wizards can get it wrong too. Inflation is roaring away again. The bankers blame the “transitory” shock of the pandemic and war. King’s book, reviewed by Edward Chancellor, argues that they “turned a blind eye to the soaring money supply”, victims of their groupthink. The Bank of England was the worst offender of the lot.

Daniel Chandler’s Free and Equal asks what a fair society would look like, based on the egalitarian liberal principles of John Rawls’s celebrated work of political philosophy, A Theory of Justice. We need to hang all lobbyists for the rich, Chandler implies, before we can start building our earthly paradise.



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3 ECONOMICS EDWARD CHANCELLOR JONATHAN WOLFF We Need to Talk About Inflation – 14 urgent lessons from the last 2,000 years Stephen D. King Free and Equal – What would a fair society look like? Daniel Chandler
6 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Donatello and Vermeer, Patrick O’Brian, Monsters, etc
7 TRANSLATION MICHAEL HOFMANN HILARY DAVIES The Translations of Seamus Heaney Seamus Heaney; Edited by Marco Sonzogni The Foreign Connection – Writings on poetry, art and translation Jamie McKendrick
9 LITERATURE ANN LAWSON LUCAS The Betrothed Alessandro Manzoni; Translated by Michael F. Moore
10 BIOGRAPHY & POLITICS ANDREW HARDING JAN PLAMPER Winnie & Nelson – Portrait of a marriage Jonny Steinberg The Return of Resentment – The rise and decline and rise again of a political emotion Robert A. Schneider
12 CLASSICS T. COREY BRENNAN KATE COOPER The Lives of a Roman Neighborhood – Tracing the imprint of the past, from 500 BCE to the present Paul W. Jacobs, II The Lives of Ancient Villages – Rural society in Roman Anatolia Peter Thonemann
13 POEM KIM OK Friendship; Translated by Ryan Choi
14 ARTS PETER STOTHARD JAMES HALL Luxury and Power – Persia to Greece (British Museum) The Ugly Duchess – Beauty and satire in the Renaissance (National Gallery). The Ugly Duchess – Beauty and satire in the Renaissance Emma Capron et al
16 FICTION MICHAEL CAINES NORMA CLARKE JULIAN EVANS NICK HOLDSTOCK PAUL GRAVETT Enter Ghost Isabella Hammad The Ghost Theatre Mat Osman Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv Andrey Kurkov; Translated by Reuben Woolley The Turban and the Hat Sonallah Ibrahim; Translated by Bruce Fudge Your Wish Is My Command Deena Mohamed
19 MYTHOLOGY ELEANOR ROSAMUND BARRACLOUGH The Norse Myths That Shape the Way We Think Carolyne Larrington
20 RELIGION PAUL ALLEN CALLY HAMMOND Augustine and Tradition – Influences, contexts, legacy David G. Hunter and Jonathan P. Yates, editors Queens of a Fallen World – The lost women of Augustine’s Confessions Kate Cooper
22 ENVIRONMENT CAROLINE MOOREHEAD KATE SIMPSON YVONNE REDDICK When the Mountains Dance Christine Toomey A World in a Shell Thom van Dooren Hothouse Earth Bill McGuire
24 IN BRIEF Croire – Sur les pouvoirs de la littérature Justine Augier. From the Battlefield to the Stage – The many lives of General John Burgoyne Norman S. Poser. Of Cattle and Men Ana Paula Maia. Taking Flight – The evolutionary story of life on the wing Lev Parikian. The Hurting Kind Ada Limón. Travels with Tocqueville – Beyond America Jeremy Jennings. Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Britain, sport and the 1980s Roger Domeneghetti
26 TRAVEL JAMES MCCONNACHIE The Turning Tide – A biography of the Irish Sea Jon Gower
27 AFTERTHOUGHTS IRINA DUMITRESCU Taking advice – A few medieval tips
28 NB M. C. Celebrating the Hudson Review, Simon Cutts and the small presses, Shakespeare’s rarities

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