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Book Bites: 28 August 2016

Published in the Sunday Times

The Private Lives of the TudorsThe Private Lives of the Tudors
Tracy Borman (Hodder & Stoughton)
Book buff
*****
Whether it was the scandals in court or the constant beheadings, people can’t devour the grisly details of the Tudors fast enough. Historian Tracy Borman has pored over household records and first-hand accounts to reveal the most intimate details of life at court. Despite the enticing title, the book has no new secrets to tell, but instead focuses on the fascinating minutiae, such as how many attendants were required to witness the consummation of a marriage, childbirth, or even using the lavatory. A treasure-trove of facts and a must-have resource for history buffs. – Sally Partridge @sapartridge

Red DirtRed Dirt
EM Reapy (Head of Zeus)
Book thrill
****
Wasted on cheap wine, high on acid, weed and any other substance they can lay hands on, three young people run from their past in Ireland to make a fresh start in Australia. But it’s tough going, a constant struggle to make ends meet. One of the three jumps out of a moving car in the outback during a bad acid trip, another narrowly escapes becoming a sex slave, and the other kills a man. This refreshing debut novel from EM Reapy is vividly written in Irish brogue and tells of their aimlessness in the Oz underbelly. – Gabriella Bekes @Gabrikwa

Apartheid and the Making of a Black PsychologistApartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist
N Chabani Manganyi (Wits University Press)
Book real
***
It has become apparent with urbanisation that depression, bipolar and stress-related mental issues affect us all. This opens a dialogue; a much-needed public awareness. This memoir – about an unsung hero in South African psychology – encourages that dialogue. It’s about how Professor N Chabani Manganyi grew up in Mavambe, Limpopo in the 1940s, how he went to Yale University, and how he became a clinical practitioner and researcher. It is also about how he was a dedicated black intellectual activist during the apartheid years and, finally, a leading educationist in Mandela’s cabinet. Although academic, it is inspiring reading. – Nondumiso Tshabangu @MsNondumiso

Cold Case ConfessionCold Case Confession: Unravelling the Betty Ketani Murder
Alex Eliseev (Pan Macmillan)
Book real
****
It all hinged on a chance finding. In the Johannesburg suburb of Kenilworth, peeling away the carpet tiles, Jeffrey Marshall discovers “an A4 sheet of paper folded in half, with other papers sandwiched in between”. If not for that, Betty Ketani would have been another missing-person case. And, just like that, a warped world begins to unravel. You may begin to suspect that you are reading a work of fiction but everything in this book actually happened. Journalist Alex Eliseev will take you on a ride comparable to any best-selling crime novel. – Chantelle Gray van Heerden @CGrayvH

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