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Choice, Not Fate: the Biography of Trevor Manuel

Choice Not Fate, The Life and Times of Trevor ManuelPenguin Books is pleased to bring you the biography of South Africa’s longest-serving Cabinet minister: Pippa Green’s Choice, Not Fate.

Trevor Manuel was a member of Nelson Mandela’s original Cabinet and became South Africa’s first black Minister of Finance in 1996, at a time when the economy threatened to spiral into a debt trap. Under his stewardship for more than 12 years, South Africa entered its longest economic growth period. By 2007, Manuel was the world’s longest-serving Minister of Finance and the most respected African finance minister.

Born into a working-class family on the Cape Flats, Manuel’s story reflects the fate that befell thousands of people classified as coloured under Apartheid. Despite the constant moving under the cruel Group Areas Act, clashes with gangsters who roamed the Flats and a truncated education, Manuel stared down fate to become one of the most prominent leaders in the resistance movement of the 1980s.

Choice, Not Fate: The Life and Times of Trevor Manuel tells the story of Manuel’s origins, his family, his personal struggles and his reflections. It is a story of how a man is both shaped by his country’s history and how his choices changed the course of the new South Africa. It is a story of how a young country, emerging from the heavy shadow of repression, made hard-nosed decisions about its future. It is a story of the choices Manuel has grappled with in his own life, both personal and political, and how, at times, he has been forced to change himself.

About the author

Pippa Green is a highly respected South African journalist and writer who began her career in 1982 reporting on the trade union and anti-Apartheid resistance movement for The Argus. Born in Cape Town in 1958, Green was educated at the University of Cape Town and at Columbia University in New York, and in 2006 held the position of Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton in New Jersey. Her work has been published widely across South Africa and the US. She has served as the deputy editor of The Sunday Independent and Pretoria News, and as Head of Radio News at the SABC.

For this book, Green conducted many hours of intensive interviews with Manuel over a period of four years, as well as numerous other interviews with more than 90 key members of Manuel’s family and friends, his comrades and critics, and his colleagues in the Treasury and Cabinet. Interviewees include Kader Asmal, Jeremy Cronin, Alec Erwin, Pravin Gordhan, Lesetja Kganyago, Pali Lehola, Tito Mboweni, Cyril Ramaphosa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Zwelinzima Vavi.

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