My Traitor's Heart is an eyewitness chronicle of the violence and despair that threatened to tear South Africa apart in the 1980s. Working as a reporter, Malan covered violent crime at a time when South Africa's murder rate was skyrocketing and apartheid was visibly unraveling. As reportage and history, it's an invaluable document, but what makes My Traitor's Heart timeless is Malan's searching, honest appraisal of his own place in the country's brutal racial caste system. As a white Afrikaner whose family tree includes some of the foremost architects of apartheid, Malan wrestles with his own complicity in South Africa's bloody history of inequality; as a liberal opponent of apartheid writing in the last, desperate years before Truth and Reconciliation, Malan asks the hardest question: is forgiveness possible? As a grieving widow says to Malan: "Trust can never be a fortress...a safe enclosure against life. Trusting is dangerous. But without trust there is no hope for love, and love is all we ever have to hold against the dark."
A relative of the architect of apartheid who left the country offers his observations on his return, discussing the extremists that continue to divide the country.