I suppose everyone has favourite columnists and journalists and writers. Many a happy morning begins, for me, with one of Stephen Grootes's excellent and sometimes delightfully bizarre columns. Grootes is a political reporter and he's been at it for a while. Perhaps that's why he remains one of the most sober, sensible and non-hysterical voices talking about South African politics (in a landscape where an awful lot of others seem to think the world is going to end about once a week). Now he has written a book.
SA Politics Unspun is a delightful blend of fact, personal anecdote and sensible, if sometimes a little controversial, predictions for the 2014 South African elections and beyond. I particularly enjoyed the way he introduces the characters in the ongoing drama of South African politics not only as histories, roles and responsibilities, but as people with flaws and quirks and personalities. It's a great reminder that politics is not just about big statements or media hype; it's about the interaction between the players in the game. And without a basic understanding of those people, prediction and commentary become somewhat meaningless.
SA Politics Unspun is a light read (finished all too quickly), with plenty of humour and personality. It's also a great reference for when past controversies get thrown up in the coming campaign chaos. It should probably be read by everyone who plans to understand, comment on or take part in South African politics in the run up to the 2014 general elections and beyond. I found myself wishing someone could do the same for each of the other nations in Southern Africa (at least).