South African lawyer and leading member of the ANC (African National Congress) during the tumultuous 70s and 80s, lost an arm, sight in one eye, and suffered hearing loss and diminished use of his legs when the bomb planted in his car exploded on April 7, 1988. This book chronicles the accident, his long recovery in a hospital and rehabilitation unit, and the process of re-entering life and politics after such a harrowing experience.

Sachs connects his personal recovery with the emergence of an apartheid-free South Africa and tells his individual story within the context of political struggle. The 2000 edition includes a forward by Desmond Tutu, an introduction by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, and a new epilogue by Sachs.


Sachs, now a Justice in the Constitutional Court of South Africa, writes about his exile in Mozambique, his work on behalf of justice in South Africa, and the complexities of doing so as a Jewish white male. A powerful aspect of the narrative is his exquisitely detailed (and at times humorous) account of his body's sensations as he learns again how to move from a sitting to a standing position, how he learns to write with his other hand, and to walk across a room with a cane to answer a phone.

Sachs writes with love, humor, and rage about his years in the struggle and his slow recovery from the bombing, linking the two processes together ("As Samora said, victory does not just come, it has to be organized. Up to the left, up to the right, up to the left, up to the right" 65). He also writes poignantly about his emotional states throughout his recovery ("I am one person, not two, and all I can hope is that the lively daytime Albie can help heal and restore confidence to the traumatized and lonely Albie of the early hours" 42), and his euphoria at finding himself alive day after day. This is a marvelous book that could be read by medical students and health care workers at a variety of levels.


Univ. of California Press

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