On The Contrary

As difficult to pigeon-hole as the man himself, part memoir, part biography, part political polemic, On the Contrary is a brilliant and timely contribution to South Africa's 'history in the making.' Controversial, principled, plain-spoken – Tony Leon, leader of the opposition for thirteen years, is all that and more. Destined from early life as the son of a High Court Judge to make a major impact as an ironclad liberal, he has nonetheless interrogated his idealism in strategic terms and left the political arena strewn with defeated adversaries and old-style conservatives content to let human rights slip for the sake of an easy life. Without fear or favour he also confronted the new elite wherever or whenever they exceeded the bounds of parliamentary, political or private probity, as they often did. On the Contrary records in his finely-focused prose an adventure in ideas that involves vivid, real people – friends, colleagues and remorseless opponents alike. Many are famous names. Readers will be startled at Leon's freshness of approach and grasp of the intricate realities and compromises that go into the making of a politician and into the leadership of a political party. Fresh light is cast on a half-century of figures who have shaped modern South Africa - from the dour Nationalists to the abrasive personalities of the liberation fold. Themes, events and personalities emerge from five decades of memory, participation and intellectual struggle. They are unique in our records, told from very near the centre of power. He lifts the lid on many of the most important chapters of the recent epoch: the constitutional negotiations, the birth and near death of the Democratic Alliance, his struggle with Thabo Mbeki over AIDS, Zimbabwe and race. In a no-holds-barred assessment he provides an insider’s account of the dramas and events which have helped shape and define modern South Africa. He also charts the future course of South Africa after the rise of Jacob Zuma and the struggle for power inside the ANC. Leon's title offers an almost forensic examination of how corruption, crime and unemployment corroded the high ideals of the Constitution and of Parliament itself. He is also not afraid of allowing glimpses of his rich, private life – the brilliance of this book rests in its careful balance of the public and the private and how they nurture each other.
Author:
Leon T

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Short Description

As difficult to pigeon-hole as the man himself, part memoir, part biography, part political polemic, On the Contrary is a brilliant and timely contribution to South Africa's 'history in the making.' Controversial, principled, plain-spoken – Tony Leon, leader of the opposition for thirteen years, is all that and more. Destined from early life as the son of a High Court Judge to make a major impact as an ironclad liberal, he has nonetheless interrogated his idealism in strategic terms and left the political arena strewn with defeated adversaries and old-style conservatives content to let human rights slip for the sake of an easy life. Without fear or favour he also confronted the new elite wherever or whenever they exceeded the bounds of parliamentary, political or private probity, as they often did. On the Contrary records in his finely-focused prose an adventure in ideas that involves vivid, real people – friends, colleagues and remorseless opponents alike. Many are famous names. Readers will be startled at Leon's freshness of approach and grasp of the intricate realities and compromises that go into the making of a politician and into the leadership of a political party. Fresh light is cast on a half-century of figures who have shaped modern South Africa - from the dour Nationalists to the abrasive personalities of the liberation fold. Themes, events and personalities emerge from five decades of memory, participation and intellectual struggle. They are unique in our records, told from very near the centre of power. He lifts the lid on many of the most important chapters of the recent epoch: the constitutional negotiations, the birth and near death of the Democratic Alliance, his struggle with Thabo Mbeki over AIDS, Zimbabwe and race. In a no-holds-barred assessment he provides an insider’s account of the dramas and events which have helped shape and define modern South Africa. He also charts the future course of South Africa after the rise of Jacob Zuma and the struggle for power inside the ANC. Leon's title offers an almost forensic examination of how corruption, crime and unemployment corroded the high ideals of the Constitution and of Parliament itself. He is also not afraid of allowing glimpses of his rich, private life – the brilliance of this book rests in its careful balance of the public and the private and how they nurture each other.

Long description

Incisive, principled, plain-spoken – Tony Leon, leader of the opposition for eight years, is all that and more. Destined from early life as the son of a High Court Judge to make a major impact as an ironclad liberal, he has nonetheless confronted the challenges of change head-on, leaving the political arena strewn with defeated adversaries and old-style conservatives content to let human rights slip for the sake of an easy life.

On the Contrary records in his finely-focused prose an adventure in ideas that involves vivid, real people – friends, colleagues and enemies alike. Many are household names but readers will be startled at Leon’s fresh approach and grasp of the intricate realities and compromises that go into the making of a politician. There is new light here on many of the figures who have shaped modern South Africa: from the dour Nationalists to the abrasive personalities of the liberation fold.

The themes and personalities that emerge from a half-century of memory and intellectual struggle are unique in our records, told from the centre of events. Almost forensic examination of how corruption has corroded the high ideals of the Constitution is another running theme.

Leon is unafraid of allowing glimpses of his rich, private life; and the brilliance of the book rests in its careful balance of the public and the private and how they nurture each other. A brilliant contribution to South Africa’s ‘history in the making’.

Product details

Author:
Leon T
Subtitle:
Leading the Opposition in the New South Africa
Format:
Hardcover
Publisher:
Jonathan Ball SA
ISBN:
9781868422593
Pages:
766
Width (mm):
120
Length (mm):
140

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