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When They Came for Me: The Hidden Diary of an Apartheid Prisoner

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When They Came for Me

The Hidden Diary of an Apartheid Prisoner

John R. Schlapobersky
Foreword by Albie Sachs

296 pages, 5 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-906-8 $149.00/£110.00 Hb Not Yet Published (March 2021)

ISBN  978-1-78920-908-2 $24.95/£19.95 Pb Not Yet Published (March 2021)

eISBN 978-1-78920-907-5 eBook Not Yet Published

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


In 1969, while a student in South Africa, John Schlapobersky was arrested for opposing apartheid and tortured, detained and eventually deported.  Interrogated through sleep deprivation, he later wrote secretly in solitary confinement about the struggle for survival.  In this exquisitely written memoir, the author reflects on the singing of the condemned prisoners, the poetry, songs and texts that saw him through his ordeal, and its impact.  This sense of hope through which he transformed his life guides his continuing work as a psychotherapist and his focus on the rehabilitation of others.  Apartheid and its resistance come to life in this story to make it a vital historical document, one of its time and one for our own.

John Schlapobersky is a Consultant Psychotherapist. He won the Alonso Award of the American Group Psychotherapy Association in 2017 for his book From the Couch to the Circle: Group-Analytic Psychotherapy In Practice' (Routledge 2016).

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present


Albie Sachs



The Days
    Arrest: Day 1: Friday 13 June    
    Interrogation I: Swanepoel: Compol Building
    Solitary Confinement:  The Hanging Jail
    Interrogation II: Johan Coetzee
    Signing the Statement and Negotiating Release
    Release: Day 55: Wednesday 6th August


Afterword: Memory and Testimony


Appendix 1: Arrest Warrant 13/06/1969
Appendix 2: The Sword and the Ploughshare: The Terrorism Act and the Bill of Rights
Appendix 3: Principles for the Political Applications of Psychotherapy


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