Cradock is a vivid history of a South African town in the years when segregation gradually emerged, preceding the rapid and rigorous implementation of apartheid. Through the details of one emblematic community, Jeffrey Butler offers an ambitious treatment of the racial themes that dominate recent South African history. Although Butler was born and raised in Cradock, he eschews sentimentality in favour of scholarly precision. Augmenting the obvious political narratives, Cradock examines the poor infrastructural conditions, ranging from public health to public housing, that typify a grossly unequal system of racial segregation but are 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 coloureds were affected by the bitter transition from segregation before 1948 to apartheid thereafter.
‘A fine microstudy of South Africa’s transition from segregation to apartheid, this detailed case study of what happened in one small town throws important light on the trajectory of the country as a whole.”
Chris Saunders, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Cape Town