Catalogue - New Works (Ficton & non-ficton)

The Silent War: South African Recce operations 1969 - 1994
by Peter Stiff


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Size - 242x168mm, 608 pages, 24 pp b/w and colour illustrations.
ISBN 0 620 24300 7 - hardcover
ISBN 1 919864 04 5 - softcover

This amazing book tells not only the story of South Africa’s special forces, it has also been described as the most important and frank history of South Africa itself during the apartheid years. It is also the most illuminating book on special forces published anywhere. Not only does Stiff deal with military operations but he also explains the political dynamics that prompted them.
It is wide ranging and covers the first counter-insurgency operations in Namibia in 1966, a commando raid on Dare-es-Salaam, the Fox Street Siege, South Africa’s intervention into Angola in 1975 and subsequent pull-out, the rise of insurgency in Moçambique, South Africa’s reentry into Angola, strikes against SWAPO bases in Zambia, the training and assistance to UNITA, the fight against ZANLA and ZIPRA in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and how the Recces staffed Rhodesia’s ‘D’ Squadron SAS, the fall of Rhodesia, how the SAS and Selous Scouts were reformed as Recce units in South Africa, the selection and training of special forces, the raid against the ANC at Matola in Moçambique, South African assistance to RENAMO and Recce operations in Moçambique, Lesotho, Cabinda, Botswana and Zambia. It also deals in detail with the final days of apartheid South Africa and explains how close the country was to a right-wing coup d’etat.

It was a book that should not have been published. In 1986 Peter Stiff was invited by the Chief SADF to write a history of the Recces, but two years later when it was found that he had discovered far more about secret operations than intended, permission was withdrawn and he was threatened with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. He had to wait until after the 1994 elections before he could again pick up his pen.

The Silent War is the result, but it is well worth the long wait.

The press raved about this astonishing book:

Peter Stiff is acknowledged as the foremost writer on the counter-insurgency war in southern Africa.... It is clear The Silent War could only be published after the emergence of democratic rule in 1994.... In essence the book reveals the impact of what was really a rather small group of soldiers. They left a swathe of devastation across southern Africa, the cost of which the region is still paying....
Sunday Tribune
and Saturday Argus - Durban and Cape Town

Stiff's research is impressive. He challenges the trite and misleading fallacy that South Africa's elite soldiers were unintelligent, deranged thugs, hell-bent on killing, raping and pillaging.... an astonishing weath of detail about Special Forces operations.
Eastern Province Herald - Port Elizabeth


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