Playing the Enemy, By John Carlin

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The Independent Culture

Sport generates plenty of fine writing, but few books match the historical sweep of this account of the rugby match that changed a nation.

John Carlin, then a correspondent for The Independent in South Africa, follows the trail by which Nelson Mandela, newly released from captivity, made peace with his Afrikaner jailers as the ANC moved towards government.

The final meeting-point came in the 1995 rugby World Cup which sealed the pride of the new "rainbow nation". In this rare tale of a sporting obsession that healed rather than harmed, Carlin juggles events on and off the pitch without a fumble.