Books


Robin Brinckes has written various books about the history of South Africa. The list below has links to external sites where the books can be purchased.


What a Boykie

A story of determination and guts of a boy 'born with a wooden spoon' in his mouth, who managed through perseverance and sheer will power to turn that into one of silver. Born the third child of hardworking, honest Jewish parents in Krugersdorp in 1941, a nervy, hypochondriac who broke into a nervous rash whenever he felt uncomfortable or stressed, the boy was a total disaster, academically promoted to higher classes only because of his age. From an early age John would listen to the radio at any opportunity that presented itself, spending hours perfecting the mimicking of great commentators, holding a tablespoon up to his mouth as he spoke, setting his mind on a career in radio. Through a series of coincidences his lucky break finally came and he was employed by the fledgling commercial station LM Radio in Lourenco Marques (Maputo). From a stammering, stuttering insecure young announcer, he quickly blossomed and began to make his mark on the station. Sent to Australia by the legendary David Davies to study commercial radio John brought back the secret and pattern of success of commercial radio in Australia, which became the blueprint for broadcasting in South Africa. His radio career spanned 40 years, included working on LM Radio, SABC, Springbok Radio, Radio 5, Capitol Radio, Swazi Music Radio and 702 is legendary. Pioneering modern radio in South Africa, he broke new ground in radio broadcasting through his hilarious parodies of situations, phone calls to unsuspecting victims, his 'characters' such as 'Jan Sweetpak' and others, his humour and development of talk shows and techniques used by many today. He developed 'Theatre of the mind' and took it to new heights, with a vision to push for talk radio at a time others said it would fail and changed the face of broadcasting in South Africa. On any morning, his talent and effect was measurable, one only had to look at other drivers in Johannesburg's rush hour traffic to see the smiling faces as he brightened the day with his machine gun fire wit and humour. A man of great humility and integrity, this book shows how much can be achieved when the odds are stacked against you and all you have is determination, passion and an unparalleled talent for communicating.

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The Great Trek Uncut

In the early planning stages of Freedom Park Robin Binckes participated as a member of the history sub-committee. The amount of debate and argument, much of it heated, astounded him. Practically every event discussed was interpreted from diametrically differing viewpoints. One of the most controversial topics was the Great Trek, the 1836 Boer exodus from the Cape Colony. Traditionally writers on the subject have covered the event from a perspective not only of 'white history' but predominantly of 'Afrikaner history'. It has always been seen as 'an Afrikaner event'. It was anything but. As the Great Trek and the events leading up to it involved every section of the population - Zulu, Sotho, Ndebele, Xhosa, Khoisan, Khoikhoi, Coloured, British, English-speaking South African and Boer - it is time to portray the trek in that light, in the context of a unbiased, modern South Africa. Like most history the dots are all connected; it is impossible to separate the Great Trek from events which took place as far back as the Portuguese explorers because those early events shaped the backdrop to the causes of the Great Trek. Most writers have specialized in the trek itself whereas Binckes has adopted a broader approach that studies the impact of the earlier white incursions and migrations - Portuguese, Dutch, French and British - on southern Africa, to create a better understanding of the trek and its causes. Drawing heavily on eyewitness accounts wherever possible, he has consolidated these with the perspectives of leading historians, the final product being an objective and comprehensive record of one of the seminal events in South African history. This book shows that the Afrikaner was, is, and always will be, an important player in South African society, but it shows him as part of a bigger picture. The author distances himself from the noble characters stereotyped for the past two centuries and portrays them in their true light: wonderful, courageous people with human feelings, strengths and failings.

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Vlakplaas: Apartheid Death Squads

Faced with the 'total onslaught' by its enemies, in 1979, Apartheid South Africa established Vlakplaas-lit. 'shallow farm', a 100-hectare farm nestling in the hills outside Pretoria on the Hennops River-as a secret operation under the arm of C1, a counter-terrorism division of the South African Police headed by Brigadier Schoon. The first phase of Vlakplaas operations, up until 1989, was aimed at fighting the enemy: the armed wings of the liberation movements, the African National Congress's Umkhonto we Sizwe (or 'MK'), the Pan Africanist Congress's Azanian People's Liberation Army (or APLA) and the South African Communist Party. The second phase was 'fighting organized crime' in which Vlakplaas itself seamlessly adopted the mantle of organized crime in the notorious downtown area of Johannesburg's Hillbrow. The final phase, the most destructive, was as the murky 'Third Force' that destabilized the country in an orgy of violence in the run-up to its first democratic elections, in 1994. Operating within South Africa as well as beyond the country's borders, it will never been known how many victims can be attributed to the Vlakplaas agenda-with much of the execution taking place on the farm itself-but a conservative figure of 1,000 murders and assassinations has been mooted.

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Canvas Under The Sky

It is 1834.The Eastern Cape frontier is burning, Rauch Beukes, a young Boer of 17, returns to the family homestead to find it razed, the livestock gone and his mother and sisters slaughtered by the marauding Xhosa from across the Great Fish River. So begins a tale of violence and warfare and love and lust across racial divides, painted against the grand backdrop of the Boer migration north into the hinterland that became known as the Great Trek, the result of British duplicity and injustice. The dramatis personae are Boer, and Brit, Xhosa, Zulu Matabele and Cape Malay slaves: from the Xhosa chief Hinsta, Colonel Harry Smith, the Zulu tyrant Dingaan, to the Boer trekkers Potgieter, Retief, Maritz, Trichardt and Cilliers. And in young Rauch's life are three astonishing women: Amelia, the daughter of an English settler; Marietjie, the beautiful meisie from Graaff-Reinet; and Katrina September, the sensual ex-slave.

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Tucker's Deadline

This is the true story of Irving Tucker, who married an English girl, Yvonne, and left South Africa in 1976 to farm sheep on the Welsh border, growing their own organic vegetables and living a healthy life style. They returned to South Africa every year on holiday. The couple was childless. The book deals with complex personality and his love of practical jokes, and traces the relationship between him and the writer over the period 1961 to 2011. The death of Yvonne in 2010 is the primary reason why Irving announces to his friends that he is going to kill himself; this despite the fact that he is healthy, relatively young and has recently sold a piece of art for over GBP1 million. For two years following death, his friends attempt to dissuade him from committing suicide, never sure whether it is a cry for help, an attempt to get attention, another practical joke or a serious threat. He sponsors an elephant- collaring in the bush and invites a group of friends to join him for this last African adventure. Around the campfire at night, he and his friends openly discuss his plans. The polarized reactions of confidants range from vehement denial to vehement support, as he advises them that his suicide date is rapidly approaching. In January 2011 he returns home to England, his deadline the end of February. Irving Tucker is a complex character with great attributes and glaring faults. This is a story of love, friendship and caring, of laughter, fun, sadness and tragedy. It is the story of a man determined to leave this world at a time of his choosing.

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