Playing the Enemy

John Carlin

RRP: £9.99

1 March 2010

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781848876590

RRP: £6.99

1 April 2009

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781848872585

As the day of the final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup dawned, and the Springboks faced New Zealand’s all-conquering All Blacks, more was at stake than a sporting trophy. When Nelson Mandela appeared wearing a Springboks jersey and led the all-white Afrikaner-dominated team in singing South Africa’s new national anthem, he conquered the hearts of white South Africa.

Playing the Enemy tells the extraordinary human story of how that moment became possible. It shows how a sport, once the preserve of South Africa’s Afrikaans-speaking minority, came to unify the new rainbow nation, and tells of how – just occasionally – something as simple as a game really can help people to rise above themselves and see beyond their differences.


Wonderful... Don't wait for the movie.
New York Times

A triumphant conversion... A portrait of South Africa's answer to George Washington... [It] works because Carlin got so close to Mandela and the people Mandela seduced.Simon Kuper
Financial Times

Revelatory... A tight, gripping and powerful book that shines a light on a moment of hope, not just for one nation but the whole world.
Daily Express

A fascinating story... Thirteen years on, it is possible to look back with emotion at a moment which suggested that everything was possible.Justin Cartwright
Sunday Telegraph