Tobacco wars

Tobacco Wars by Johann van Loggerenberg

Tafelberg, an imprint of NB Publishers

It is said that books unravelling South African politics and detailing the antics of those in positions of power are better than any fiction. This is certainly true of the revelations by Johann van Loggerenberg in Tobacco Wars.

Initially I found my mind flailed by too much information, having to stop for breath to uncramp my thoughts, and wondered at the intelligence and derring-do of the author. What an officer the South African Revenue Services have lost, how much has South Africa lost by him and other honest officials so summarily dismissed.

The format was a hard to follow in the beginning, traversing the time line as van Loggerenberg does. My head was spinning as I was sent back to the early teens, then brought up to today, and sent back to the mid-teens. The story is so complex I realise he has no choice but to guide us through the merry dance as best he can, and the page came where I was happily a part of the time line, understanding where I was in the sequence of things.

I found the same with the players. I had to concentrate to get each cartel, each group of players established so the narrative made sense.  Once I had that all sorted the story overwhelmed, gob-stopped and infuriated.

This is not the easiest of reads, well though it is written, even for someone who loves crime and mystery fiction, because of the complexity of the deception and dishonesty. It is hard to believe that what is being told is unembellished truth, facts that left me breathless with disbelief.

A must read for anyone with a stake in South Africa today, or indeed in the tobacco industry.

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