Journalistic prowess

2008-10-02 08:05

DON'T be put off by the promise of philosophical musings. It's never made good and Pauw's book is riveting reading, even where the stories have already been imprinted on our consciousness by our history.

Pauw is possibly the pre-eminent investigative journalist in the country and prides himself that he's still chasing dangerous stories at

an age when colleagues have slipped quietly behind a desk or become government spin-doctors.

This is his third book - the other two dealing with South Africa's death squads. His focus in Dances with Devils is broader but at the same time, more personal and autobiographical. He describes his standard upbringing in an Afrikaner household, his political enlightenment and his first journalistic steps on Vrye Weekblad. He retells the stories that his early reputation was built on, about Dirk Coetzee, Eugene de Kock, Vlakplaas and the goons who upheld white supremacy. Pauw tells the story straight, with minimal digressions into political commentary.

He moves on to the stories he covered for SABC's Special Assignment, of which he was a founder member. Two exposés in particular stand out: following the prostitution trade from Mozambique to Johannesburg and tracking a drug trail to central Africa. Both missions were borderline suicidal and showcase journalism at its best.

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