War of Words: Memoir of a South African Journalist
$26.95 $20.21
  • Hardcover
  • 400
  • September 1999
  • 9781888363715

War of Words: Memoir of a South African Journalist

Benjamin Pogrund

When Benjamin Pogrund, one of South Africa's most distinguished journalists, first began his career as a young reporter in the 1950s, "There had been little reason at that stage to believe that anything revolutionary was about to start." As the "African affairs reporter," and then deputy editor, it was Pogrund who first brought the words of black leaders like Robert Sobukwe and Nelson Mandela to the pages of South Africa's leading newspaper, the Rand Daily Mail. This was the period of apartheid in South Africa and for most of the next thirty years, the Rand Daily Mail was the country's liberal white voice against the tyranny of the Afrikaner Nationalist government.

War of Words is the amazing story of those years, when beat reporters simply doing their job experienced the vengeance of the militarized apparatus of minority state rule. War of Words is most of all the story of lives turned upside down and, sometimes, of unintended heroism. Pogrund himself, for example, stood trial for a series of articles he wrote on prison abuse.

A riveting memoir and a complex commentary on apartheid and freedom of the press, War of Words offers an insider's perspective on one of the most turbulent, and arguably one of the most significant, periods in modern history.


"Benjamin Pogrund was our bravest reporter … His courage was an inspiration." —Donald Woods, author of Biko: Cry Freedom

"[Pogrund] unfolds three stories: South Africa's; that of Johannesburg's Rand Daily Mail, for which he wrote from 1958 until its demise in 1985; and his own. Pogrund recounts his boyhood as the son of Jewish Lithuanian immigrants and his adult commitment to dispassionate reporting that could not be used as propaganda by anyone. The book is a view of apartheid's bloodiest years from inside South Africa's leading newspaper by a man who knew the country's leaders personally and who appears candid about his own mistakes and those he saw on all sides. Fascinating in both perspective and detail." —Thomas J. Davis, Library Journal

About Benjamin Pogrund

BENJAMIN POGRUND began working as a journalist for South Africa's Rand Daily Mail in 1958. He quickly became their specialist on "black affairs," with the title of "African affairs reporter," covering the activities of the ANC and black leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe, both of whom became Pogrund's lifelong friends. He rose to eventually become deputy editor of the paper during his 26-year tenure there. Pogrund survived the years under apartheid, as well as the demise of the Rand Daily Mail itself in the 1980s. Today, Pogrund heads the Center for Social Concern in Jerusalem, where he lives with his wife, Anne, an artist.

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