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REVIEWS 323 The 'Opeca' Commonwealth. a•. :MARGARET BALL. Duke UniversityCommonwealthSeriesno 39. Durham, Nc, Duke UniversityPress,•97•. PP-xiv, 286. $8.75. If Commonwealthstudieshad a counterpartto the Halle Selassie Prize it mightbeoffered oneyearfor themostoriginalideaabouttheCommonwealth. Alas, Miss Ball would not win, but neither would Max Beloff and a host of othereminentnameswho havetried their hand. The prizewouldremainunawarded .The Commonwealth seems like a substantial phantom,incapableof eitherdefinitionor analysis with meaning.Philosophically it doesnot exist. Miss Bali'sbookavoidssuchproblems. Her premiseis that presentCommonwealthrelationships are basically the sameas thosefoundin traditional internationalorganisations 'and are no longerof a constitutional or quasiconstitutional nature,'a statement whichwill scarcely jolt the Canadianreader with a shock of sudden revelation. What followsisbasically a series of descriptions ,basedlargelyon published documents of the governments of Commonwealthcountries and of the Commonwealth Secretariat, of how the Commonwealth operates.In practicewhat this entailsis a discussion of how the governments of the Commonweakh consult together, what machinery theyuse for consultation, andwhatresults theyachieve thereby. JOHN FLINT DalhousieUniversity The Ox[ordHistoryo[ SouthA[rica.n: SouthA[rica,•87o-•966.Editedby a•ONICA WILSON and LV. ONAm) THOa•PSON. Oxford, The ClarendonPress [Toronto , OxfordUniversity Press], 197'.PP.xvi,584,maps. $17.oo. Three interconnected developments in the recenthistoryof SouthAfrica give unityto thissecond .volume of the Oxfordhistory:oneis the socio-economic changes generated by urbanization and industrialization; a second, the relationshipwith the Empire-Commonwealth; and finally,the parallelgrowthof Afrikaner and African nationalisms. Among the contributorsa number of disciplines arerepresented (indeed, thehistorians areoddlyin a minority),and thesethemes are tackledin turn from the differentperspectives of the several authors.There are advantages to this approach-South African historyis obviously suited tomultidisciplinary analysis - but therearealsodisadvantages: a certaintendency towardrepetitiveness andin places a lackof coherence. D.H. Houghtonleadsoff the volumewith a surveyof major economic changes since1860.His chaptercorrelates thegrowing, thoughstillinadequate bodyof secondary literatureon thissubject but falls (in the opinionof this reviewer)to gomuchbeyond it. Of the threechapters whichfollow,that by FrancisWilsonon farmingclearlystands out. It is an excellent contribution, sensitive in itsgeneralizations andimpressive in itshandling of anelusive body of material.One criticismwouldbe that it tends,particularlyfor the period 32• THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW beforeunion,to be a history of agriculture at the Cape.M. Wilson's chapter, 'The Growthof Peasant Communities,' whilevaluable, mightbetterhavebeen incorporated with the chapters on farmingand urbanization (David Weishe), since it tendstooverlapwith bothof them. In the studyof SouthAfrican historysinceI948, there has beena preoccupation with the predicamentin which the countrypresently findsitself. The searchhasbeenfor the rootsof apartheid,and the underlying question for many scholars,'where did we take the wrong turning?'The work of several of the contributors hereisobviously influenced by considerations of this sort.In two fine chapters on the criticalperiod, I89o-I9xo, L.M. Thompson finds the key factor in the policiesof the imperial government:'Any final assessment of the achievement of an imperialpowermustdependlargelyupon the sortof society it left behindwhenit withdrew.In withdrawing fromSouth Africa, Great Britain left behinda caste-like society, dominatedby its white minority' (p. 364). There is no doubtthat the failureof the sustained effort at the endof the centuryto mouldSouthAfrica to an imperialdesign contributedto the verydevelopments whichstatesmen weretryingto prevent.However , there were other forcesat work. In the attempt to implementtheir policiesin SouthernAfrica, British officialsdependedto an extraordinary degreeupon localcollaborators. Thesecollaborators werenot alwaysthe helpless pawnsof militantimperialists, moreshrewd or moreruthless thanthey.In pursuitof their own objectives, the collaborators soughtand often succeeded in manipulating the imperialgovernment in theirinterest. In short,the motives of the collaborators deserve moreattentionthantheyhavereceived thusfar. The balance of the book is concerned with South African nationalisms and with the relatedproblemof Commonwealth and internationalrelations. Both the chapterby Leo Kuper on Africannationalism (uK editiononly) and that by Ren• de Villiers on the Afrikanersare strongest on the mostrecentperiod. Kuper's chapteris particularlyeffectivein the treatmentof the competing ideologies in Africanpolitics and in explaining theextraordinary persistence in the nationalistmovementof a multiracial, integrafiveoutlook.In an able summation,J.E. Spencereviewsthe issues involvedin Commonwealth and foreignrelationsin a way which emphasizes the importantelements of continuitysince thetimeofunion. In a sense it isunfortunatethat thesetwo volumes appeared justwhenthey did. Basedlargelyon research completed or underwaybefore1966,the various chapters do not incorporate thefindings of several importantstudies published in the lastfew years(books by RonaldHyam,DerekSchreuder, ShulaMarks, FrancisWilson,PeterWalsheand others).Nevertheless, thissustained attempt to assess thehistory of SouthAfricafromthediffering perspective of itsseveral racialand culturalgroups will be of greatassistance particularlyto university teachers of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 323-324
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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