A Rainbow in the Night: Book summary and reviews of A Rainbow in the Night by Dominique Lapierre

A Rainbow in the Night

The Tumultuous Birth of South Africa

by Dominique Lapierre

A Rainbow in the Night by Dominique Lapierre X
A Rainbow in the Night by Dominique Lapierre
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Book Summary

In 1652 a small group of Dutch farmers landed on the southernmost tip of Africa. Sent by the powerful Dutch India Company, their mission was simply to grow vegetables and supply ships rounding the cape. The colonists, however, were convinced by their strict Calvinist faith that they were among God's "Elect," chosen to rule over the continent. Their saga—bloody, ferocious, and fervent—would culminate three centuries later in one of the greatest tragedies of history: the establishment of a racist regime in which a white minority would subjugate and victimize millions of blacks. Called apartheid, it was a poisonous system that would only end with the liberation from prison of one of the moral giants of our time, Nelson Mandela.

A Rainbow in the Night is Dominique Lapierre's epic account of South Africa's tragic history and the heroic men and women—famous and obscure, white and black, European and African—who have, with their blood and tears, brought to life the country that is today known as the Rainbow Nation.

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Reviews

Media Reviews


BookBrowse Review
A fast moving narrative history of South Africa by the author of City of Joy. Covering the early history of South Africa in broad brushstrokes Lapierre spends less time on the early historic details themselves and more on how they impacted the psyche of the Boer people over the following centuries - events that directly influenced the rise of the apartheid movement (such as the Boers' believe that they were the chosen people and South Africa was their biblically promised land).

Once he gets to more recent history, Lapierre slows the pace to focus on individual stories of the heroes and villains of apartheid including very nasty pieces of work such as Dr Wouter Basson, head of South Africa's chemical and biological warfare program (the 'war' in question being against South Africa's own black population); and the activities of Eschel Rhoodie, South Africa's public relations king who, with the blessing of prime minister John Vorster bought the unconditional support of politicians and news agencies in Europe and the USA with his "small suitcase full of green bills". Of course, Nelson Mandela and other internationally known activists are covered extensively, as is Mandela's wife, Winnie, who appears to have suffered almost as badly at the hands of the white administration as her husband; but time is also spent on less know people such as Helen Lieberman, a white speech therapist who, despite huge risk to herself and her family, gave aid to black township communities during the worst of the troubles, and still continues her work today.

Experts on South Africa will undoubtedly find Lapierre's book insufficient due to its lack of exhaustive historical detail and his decision to choose some stories to tell over others, not to mention his admittance in the author's note that he has taken occasional liberties with the chronology; but for the rest of us and, perhaps, generations of South African children, this is an inspiring and enlightening book that provides a reasonably solid foundation of South African history wrapped up in a story well told.

If you need more of a reason to buy it, Dominique Lapierre and his wife, also named Dominique, give all the royalties from his books to the nonprofit organization Action Aid for the Children of Lepers in Calcutta.  Since its foundation in 1982, the foundation has cured 1 million tuberculosis patients; and rescued, treated and educated about 20,000 children suffering from leprosy and/or physical and mental handicaps.  In addition to many other projects, they've built over 100 schools, dug 600 wells, distributed over 3 million dollars in micro-loans, and launched 4 hospital boats in the Ganges delta.  More about the foundation's work at cityofjoyaid.org.

Other Reviews
"A dynamic yet incomplete account of how apartheid came to be, what it did to those who lived under it and how it ended." - Kirkus Reviews

"Lapierre’s biases and some suspect framing ('in a few rare instances, [I] have taken some liberty with the chronology') can render him untrustworthy: for instance, does 'white oppression' really account for the Zulus’ massacre of 60 unarmed, outnumbered Boers? Ultimately, this dramatic read, based on 'extensive personal research,' is absorbing but agenda-driven history." - Publishers Weekly

This information about A Rainbow in the Night shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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World-renowned humanitarian and international bestselling author of The City of Joy and coauthor of Is Paris Burning? and O Jerusalem, Dominique Lapierre’s books have been read by more than ten million people around the world. He lives in France.

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