Dr Neville Alexander (1936-2012) was a distinguished intellectual, educationalist and South African struggle hero. He spent ten years on Robben Island as a political prisoner. He was a man of principle, an humanitarian and a campaigner for justice.
I fell upon this memoir by chance. It is old, out of date and a book passing into history as it was published over half a century ago (published by Howard Timmins in 1965). Jack Stodel does not feature in the standard encyclopedias or biographical dictionaries. Why bother with such a book? Memoirs give us a flavour and taste of the lives of a bygone generation and recall amusing experiences and anecdotes. We learn about the lives of others, how they lived and what the issues of the day were. Memoirs become building blocks in the writing of history.
As the 21st February 2018 marked the 101st anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi, I thought much about men at sea and the perils of travels by ship during war time. The First World War saw well over 140 ships lost at sea through U-boat action or sinking; there is a page on Wikipedia recording all such disasters where over 30 lives were lost.
I have always been interested in polar exploration and history. I think the best book on early 20th century polar exploration is by Apsley Cherry Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, which is where Angie Butler starts her book. Butler’s book also fits into a library on polar exploration. Published in 2011, it is a book about her seven year dogged quest to find Frank Wild, the polar explorer and Shackleton’s right hand man. Butler made it her mission to discover what happened to Wild in the last third of his life.
Review of Apennine War Diary: An Artist’s sketch book 1944-1945 by Walter Hain. The foreword is by Matthew Ward. Published by Bretwalda Books Ltd, 2015
Roy Macnab (1923 - 2004) was a South African poet, journalist, broadcaster, diplomat and author. He used all these considerable talents in researching and compiling this book, published in 1962. This book is perfect for the armchair traveller, we are reminded that we are a country of immigrants and that South Africa like other colonies and the "new world" was a demographic melting pot.