Amy Biehl’s Last Home: A Bright Life, a Tragic Death, and a Journey of Reconciliation in South Africa (Hardcover)

Amy Biehl’s Last Home: A Bright Life, a Tragic Death, and a Journey of Reconciliation in South Africa By Steven D. Gish, Steven D. Gish Cover Image


In 1993, white American Fulbright scholar Amy Biehl was killed in a racially motivated attack near Cape Town, after spending months working to promote democracy and women’s rights in South Africa. The ironic circumstances of her death generated enormous international publicity and yielded one of South Africa’s most heralded stories of postapartheid reconciliation. Amy’s parents not only established a humanitarian foundation to serve the black township where she was killed, but supported amnesty for her killers and hired two of the young men to work for the Amy Biehl Foundation. The Biehls were hailed as heroes by Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and many others in South Africa and the United States—but their path toward healing was neither quick nor easy.

Granted unrestricted access to the Biehl family’s papers, Steven Gish brings Amy and the Foundation to life in ways that have eluded previous authors. He is the first to place Biehl’s story in its full historical context, while also presenting a gripping portrait of this remarkable young woman and the aftermath of her death across two continents.

About the Author

Steven D. Gish is a professor of history at Auburn University at Montgomery. His previous books include Alfred B. Xuma: African, American, South African and Desmond Tutu: A Biography. He has traveled widely in South Africa since the 1980s and has interviewed key figures in the antiapartheid movement, including Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Desmond Tutu, Trevor Huddleston, and Beyers Naudé.

Praise For…

“Gish’s fine book tells Biehl’s story warmly and well and also provides an uplifting account of how her parents dealt with her loss and have since engaged in an elaborate reconciliation with South Africa and their daughter’s assailants.…Summing up: Essential.”—R. I. Rotberg, CHOICE

“If ever there was a book for our time, this is it. Amy Biehl’s story is painful and inspirational, and Steven D. Gish has captured both in his extraordinary recounting of Biehl's journey. While some may struggle to fathom why this young white scholar chose to walk alongside South Africans on their often-dangerous path to democracy, Gish’s masterful book provides answers in her own words and those of others who understood her passion and her commitment. Amy Biehl’s Last Home is a book that can and should inspire us all.”—Charlayne Hunter-Gault, author and longtime African affairs journalist

“I knew both the author and the subject of this book from a Stanford class in African politics. As a black South African, I had considerable anti-white grievance, but Steve and Amy in their life choices laid bare the dangers of my single story, even more so when Amy died so tragically in my hometown. As race relations seem to be unraveling on both sides of the Atlantic, this impressive work of scholarship about the entangled histories of South Africa and the United States comes at an opportune time.”—Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor, University of Stellenbosch

“Readers interested in reconciliation processes and justice movements will find this study illuminating and moving.”—Publishers Weekly

“Amy Biehl’s Last Home will, for all its accessibility to a general readership, be of value to scholars of the South African transition, of the impact of South African events on the United States, and of what Gish calls ‘forgiveness studies.’”—Christopher Saunders, University of Cape Town

Product Details
ISBN: 9780821423219
ISBN-10: 0821423215
Publisher: Ohio University Press
Publication Date: June 13th, 2018
Pages: 392
Language: English