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External Mission


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About the Author

STEPHEN ELLIS is the author of groundbreaking books on the ANC, the Liberian Civil War, religion and politics in Africa, and the history of Madagascar. He is Professor of Social Sciences at the Free University, Amsterdam.


'The real message of Stephen Ellis's history of the African National Congress (ANC) in exile painfully and palpably obvious between the lines is how the conspiratorial past affects the ruling party to the present day. It makes uncomfortable reading, for it goes some way towards explaining why President Jacob Zuma, a former head of the ANC s intelligence service in exile, and his comrades now running South Africa find it so hard to embrace the notion that a diversity of opinion and tolerance of dissent must be at the heart of any functioning, decent democracy.' ---The Economist '[A] book that contains startling revelations about the ANC s flirtation with totalitarianism. ... Mr Ellis is a clear-eyed observer of all things African, a fearless butcher of sacred cows. External Mission begins by annihilating conventional understandings of the circumstances surrounding the ANC s 1961 declaration of war on apartheid. According to Mr Ellis, all critical decisions were actually taken by the South African Communist Party (SACP), which sought support from Moscow and Beijing and then bounced the ANC into following its lead. ... Mr Ellis goes so far as to report that Mr Mandela was almost certainly a member, at least for a time, of the SACP's central committee.' ---Wall Street Journal 'There is hardly a page of this fascinating book does not throw fresh light on South Africa s murky past. Impeccably researched and written in the clear, dispassionate prose of a historian, Stephen Ellis has provided an indispensable guide to the ANC.' ---Martin Plaut, Africa editor, BBC World Service

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