Innocents in Africa

Drury Pifer was the son of a mining engineer who took his family to South Africa in the 1930s. This is his (Drury’s) memoir of life in and around the gold and diamond mines there and I found it hypnotically readable. Life in the desert, work in the mines, the owners’ attitudes to their workforce, heat and dust and rain, childhood games… they’re all vividly described. The whole book is a joy to read – even if the events it describes aren’t always a lot of fun for those involved. Childhood memoirs don’t usually interest me, but this one had me hooked from the first page.

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