Read of the Week

Terry Crawford-Browne returns once again with an insightful and well-researched offering, placing pivotal moments of South Africa’s history under the microscope in Eye on the Gold.

The book delves into the rise and fall of the golden era in South Africa and the consequences it had on the apartheid regime.

A well-seasoned international banker and longstanding member of the anti-apartheid movement, who better to point out the parallels between the demise of the gold mines and a wavering apartheid system in the 1980s?

But much more than that, Eye on the Gold highlights the cost of war and the insurmountable damage it has on the human race.

Crawford-Browne strategically picks his way through history, bringing alive again the horrors of Vietnam and Hiroshima, famines and collapsing empires, all which can be traced back to a select few in the “war business” who profit from it.

As can be expected from someone who was instrumental in uncovering the South African arms deal scandal, Crawford-Browne is candid about his opinions of political figures: “Rhodes can be likened to a warlord”, and “The ‘swamp’ in Washington remains far from drained and under President Donald Trump’s watch has quickly degenerated into a cesspit” are some of the lines that stood out.

He also raises the question of whether or not cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will replace “black gold” – petroleum and the US dollar in the technology age of the twenty-first century.

My favourite extract from the book comes from the last chapter titled Trump blinks and loses the empire: “The future implications for the US war business may prove to be massive. If the US$2 trillion that the world annually spends on ‘defence’ cannot prevent inexpensive Houthi drones from successfully attacking Saudi Arabia’s major oil facilities, isn’t it time to make another plan? Shouldn’t the funding squandered on ineffective armaments be reallocated to mitigating the climate change crisis, poverty and a myriad of other more critical global issues?”

In 2007 Crawford-Browne published Eye On The Money in which he gave an account of the international banking sanctions campaign against apartheid during the 1980s. It also dealt with the early stages of the South African arms deal scandal. In 2012 he wrote Eye On The Diamonds, a sequel to Eye On The Money, which provides updated information on the uncovering of the scandal.