The Afrikaners

Biography of a People

Edited by
January 2012 9781849041485 698pp
Temporarily out of stock


The Afrikaners: Biography of A People, the first comprehensive history of the Afrikaner people based on—and critical of—the most recent scholarly work, draws on the author’s own research and interviews conducted with leading political actors. Hermann Giliomee weaves together life stories and interpretation to create a highly readable narrative history of the Afrikaners.

This revised and expanded edition also offers a fresh contextualisation of apartheid, its paradoxes and its complex effects, and of the increasingly fraught relationship between the ANC government and the powerless Afrikaner minority. Giliomee revises current orthodoxies on white supremacy in South Africa in important ways. The result is not only a magisterial history of the Afrikaner people, but also a fuller understanding of that history, which for good or ill resonates far beyond the borders of South Africa.


‘Magisterial… The strength of the book lies in [Giliomee’s] distillation of a lifetime’s research and reflection into a single prodigious volume.’ — The Economist

‘This crowning work by one of South Africa’s most prominent social scientists is likely to become a baseline for interpreting Afrikaner history for a long time to come.’ — Foreign Affairs

‘There can be no more experienced or honest guide than Hermann Giliomee.’ — Charles Van Onselen, winner of the Alan Paton Award

‘For anyone wanting to understand the fascinating history of this people, continuously facing the existential question of survival for 350 years, this is and will remain the indispensable work.’ — R.W. Johnson, The Sunday Times


Hermann Giliomee, Professor of History at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, is the editor or author of thirteen books, including Negotiating South Africa's FutureAwkward Embrace: One-Party Domination and Democracy in Industrialising CountriesFrom Apartheid to Nation-Building, and The Shaping of South African Society. In 1984 he founded Die Suid-Afrikaan, an Afrikaans journal of opinion, and he has been a regular columnist for the Cape Times.

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