Future Tense: Reflections on my Troubled Land by Tony Leon

Book Review by Lindy Diamond

With a writing style that is informal, yet bursting with the insight of decades in the political arena, Tony Leon and Future Tense make it feel like you are having coffee and a chat with this veteran politician.

Leon’s latest book takes us through Present, Past and Future tense in three distinct parts, each filled with the author’s personal experiences, and reflections on South Africa’s political landscape. In a style that is more conversational than didactic, Leon weaves a narrative that not only tells us what happened, but gives a seasoned professional’s view on why it happened; and more importantly, what he thinks it all means for the future of South Africa’s citizens.

The book draws on quotes from various sources, allowing the reader to grasp these snapshots of political zeitgeist at different times, through multiple lenses. We can really delve into what was happening behind the scenes, instead of only what was on the stage, and it adds a whole new layer of context to what we think we know.

Books on South African politics can be dry, and I wasn’t looking forward to what I thought was another of those. I am most relieved to say that I have been pleasantly surprised. This remains juicy and inside-scoop-like.

There were times when I imagined Leon leaning in to speak in hushed tones with raised eyebrows and me responding with a pearl-clutching “Surely not?!” When I couple that with easy reading and a definite improvement of my understanding of politics, I would call this time well spent, and I daresay, enjoyed.

This is a good book to read if you want to be able to discuss politics intelligently and understand the goings-on in the DA and ANC, without having to suffer through a long-winded autobiography or dry historical account.

• Published in the PDF edition of the July 2021 issue.

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