In 1993, twenty-six-year-old 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. With narrative aplomb and scholarly authority in equal measure, 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. Written for scholars and general readers alike, it is masterful in its scope and devastating in its storytelling.