Shaking Hands with Billy

20th January 2011 By: Creamer Media Reporter

In this video clip, environmentalist and author Dr Anthony Turton speaks about his book, 'Shaking Hands with Billy'.


'Shaking Hands with Billy' is a book that goes behind the scenes into the top secret world of the South African security force community during the build-up to the country's first democratic elections in 1994. The book reads at three different levels, because that moment in time is embedded in a set of regional dynamics, by which the author  is profoundly affected, but has no direct control. This means that the book is about the integrity of a human being living in times of great uncertainty – when the questioning of orders is being dealt with by a secret death squad authorised under Project Barnacle to eliminate “own forces” – using only his deeply anchored moral compass as his guide. Shaking Hands with Billy is thus the story of a man accepting full responsibility for his actions as a soldier turned peace-maker, while justifying those actions to the people he cares the most for – his two children and immediate family. The book is written in a deeply personal way, as a father explaining to his two children, both now adult, why he was not always there while they were growing up, in a land divided, surrounded by secrecy. The foreword is by James Workman and the prologue is by the author.