Shades of Difference

Shades of Difference

Mac Maharaj and the Struggle for South Africa

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  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140232240
  • 672 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


The inside story of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, told through the experiences of its unsung hero

The struggle in South Africa to destroy apartheid was one of the great moral crusades of the last century, and Mac Maharaj played a pivotal role in the liberation movement for nearly four decades. A South African of Indian descent, Maharaj suffered brutal tortures and twelve years of imprisonment on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela. It was Maharaj who smuggled out the manuscript of Mandela’s autobiography, and he later served in his government. Based on extensive interviews with Maharaj over the last eleven years and hitherto unavailable documents, Padraig O’Malley’s vividly rendered tale will enthrall anyone interested in a true story of heroism and the story of a people’s struggle for freedom.


“[Shades of Difference] is exactly what O’Malley set out to achieve: ‘a portrait of Mac and of South Africa.’ It is a striking success.”
-The New York Times Book Review

“[O’Malley] is knowledgeable and sure-footed as he recounts this story . . . making a complex narrative on the whole quite clear.”
-San Francisco Chronicle

“A groundbreaking biography of a central figure in the fight to end South African apartheid.”
-Publishers Weekly

“Brilliantly written.”
-Library Journal (starred review)