Cradock, the product of more than twenty years of research by Jeffrey Butler, is a vivid history of a middle-sized South African town in the years when segregation gradually emerged, preceding the rapid and rigorous implementation of apartheid. Although Butler was born and raised in Cradock, he avoids sentimentality and offers an ambitious treatment of the racial themes that dominate recent South African history through the details of one emblematic community. Augmenting the obvious political narrative, Cradock examines poor infrastructural conditions that typify a grossly unequal system of racial segregation but otherwise neglected in the region’s historiography. Butler shows, with the richness that only a local study could provide, how the lives of blacks, whites, and mixed-race coloreds were affected by the bitter transition from segregation before 1948 to apartheid thereafter.

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