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John Fielding, series editor
Kanata (Ont.), Ronald P. Frye & Company, 1994.46pp, paper, $9.50
ISBN 0-0-919741-43-6. (Frontline on the Global Village series). CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Brenda Reed

Volume 22 Number 5
1994 October

In its introduction, this high school text is described as a "sourcebook with [an] extensive collection of primary and secondary articles." The editors suggest that students will use the book to "analyze the issues, develop ideas and find their own answers to important questions." Given the brevity of the text, the collection cannot reasonably be described as extensive, but the primary documents do include a range of pictures of South African people, posters and events, and short selections from interviews, speeches, letters, and official documents, political cartoons, and examples of the Acts that institutionalized racism. In the secondary articles there is a heavy reliance on Time magazine.

Although the introduction states that this text will encourage students to do research, the documentation for the sources is not always complete, making it difficult for students who might want to read the entire article from which the editor has chosen just a short passage. For example, on page 38 there is a reproduction of an article segment apparently from The Globe and Mail, with the usual Globe note, "Please see Documents - A2" for the rest of the story. As no date is given for the article, it would be difficult for an interested student to follow up the reference.

At times, when an author is not supplied, the voice in an article may be confusing to readers. For example, on page 26, an article from The New Republic (7 January 1978) is introduced as "[e]xtracts from an interview with an American businessman given some months before Steven Biko's final detention and death." There is a picture of Stephen Biko's tombstone further down on this page, suggesting that the editor misspelled Biko's first name, but not necessarily defining Biko as the speaker in the above article. In fact, the speaker does appear to be Biko alone, and the reference to the American businessman is thus confusing and unnecessary. On the same page, under the picture of the tombstone, the editor notes that Steve Biko was "... the Black Consciousness leader who died in detention in 1978." The tombstone states that Biko "died 12-9-1977."

The clumsy, sloppy writing on this page is, unfortunately, indicative of the entire text. Punctuation is erratic, and spelling errors and typos are far too frequent. The glossary, in particular, does not appear to have been proofread, with many misplaced periods and words, and several difficult-to-interpret typos such as "I 'eople. k'liplown" for "People. Kliptown." Students and teachers will find the editing of this sourcebook inadequate.

The sourcebook is organized with high school use in mind. Although the "inquiry approach to learning" is emphasized in the introduction, there is a page of prepared comprehension questions included on page 43. The organization of the book is not strictly chronological, but the book does begin with early twentieth-century background material and moves through topics such as "Work and Labour," "The African National Congress," "Daily Life," "F.W. de Klerk," "Nelson Mandela," and "The Extreme Right" to "The Future." The section on the future now mainly refers to the recent past, as the key topic on these two pages is the election that was held last April.

The illustrations and text are inset in squares and rectangles edged with black lines, creating a separate section for each document. The narrative is discontinuous, and, as it does not always set the context for the primary and secondary documents, teachers would have to supply supplementary information. The illustrations are all black and white. A bibliography is included.

The idea behind this sourcebook is a good one, but the editing of this edition is unacceptable, and I cannot recommend it.

Brenda Reed is a librarian in Kingston, Ontario.

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