An Account of Confinement and Interrogation Under the South African 90-Day Detention Law
by Ruth First
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“I was bereft of human contact and exchange. What was going on in the outside world? No echoes reached me. I was suspended in limbo, unknowing, unreached.” Ruth First’s powerful, spare account of her four-month solitary confinement in 1963 under South Africa’s ninety-day detention law is a personal memoir, but it also serves as a group portrait of a movement. Folded into the meticulous details of her internment—interrogations; the sounds, smells, and routines of prison life; impressions of the guards; the effects of deprivation and psychological torture on her active mind—are the stories of her comrades’ imprisonments as well. Her strong connection to the antiapartheid community helped First resist the despair of isolation. With the reissue of 117 Days, these stories help her survive, again.
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