[Marxism] Anthony Sampson

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 21 08:23:19 MST 2004

(A fairly decent obit on the late and great journalist, which does not 
place enough emphasis on his writings about oil. His book "The Seven 
Sisters" is a classic. I include a couple of links below to his recent 
articles to give a sense of his understanding of the geopolitics of oil.)

NY Times, December 21, 2004
Anthony Sampson, Anatomist of Political Power, Dies at 78

Anthony Sampson, a British investigative journalist who was Nelson 
Mandela's authorized biographer, died on Saturday at his home in Wiltshire, 
England. He was 78 and also resided in London.

No cause of death was made public, but his wife, Sally, said that Mr. 
Sampson had had heart trouble in the past.

The author of more than 20 books on political and social issues, Mr. 
Sampson was concerned throughout his career with examining imbalances of 
political power, both in Britain and South Africa. He was a weekly 
columnist for The Independent of London; his most recent column, published 
the day he died, condemned what he saw as the threat to civil liberties 
posed by the expanded power of Britain's Home Office since the terrorist 
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Besides the biography of Mr. Mandela, published in 1999, Mr. Sampson was 
known for "Anatomy of Britain" (1962), a landmark study of politics, power 
and privilege in the postwar years. Periodically updated, the book was 
reissued this year as "Who Runs This Place? The Anatomy of Britain in the 
21st Century."

Reviewing the Mandela biography in The New York Times Book Review, John 
Carlin wrote, "The triumph of 'Mandela' is that it successfully 
demythologizes the man without in any way undermining his heroic stature." 
Mr. Sampson, who was white, became involved in South African affairs after 
serving as the editor of Drum, a Johannesburg magazine for black Africans, 
from 1951 to 1955. His first book, "Drum: A Venture Into the New Africa" 
(1956), recounted his years there.

He seemed to know everyone. Mr. Sampson once described Nadine Gordimer, the 
Nobel Prize-winning novelist, as "my oldest white friend in South Africa." 
He also met many of the young luminaries of the African National Congress, 
including Steve Biko and Walter Sisulu, keeping in touch with them from 
London after the A.N.C. was banned in 1960.

During this period, he also met Mr. Mandela, then a young lawyer for the 
African National Congress. After Mr. Mandela's arrest in 1964 on charges of 
sabotage, Mr. Sampson covered his trial for The Observer of London. 
Sentenced to life in prison, Mr. Mandela was freed in 1990; he was 
president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

In an interview with The Independent yesterday, Mr. Mandela said of Mr. 
Sampson: "He cared about Africa in a way that is rare among those from the 
developed world, and he never stopped caring. Because of his intimate 
involvement, both as observer and sympathizer, with our cause, I had no 
hesitation in agreeing to him writing my authorized biography. I knew that 
in his hands our cause would be reported justly."

Anthony Terrell Seward Sampson was born on Aug. 3, 1926, in Billingham, 
England. After earning an undergraduate degree in English from Oxford, he 
was invited to edit Drum, which had recently begun publication. After 
returning to England, Mr. Sampson joined the staff of The Observer. He 
later edited The Sampson Letter, on politics and finance.

Mr. Sampson is survived by his wife, the former Sally Bentlif, whom he 
married in 1965; a sister, Dorothy Meade, of London; a brother, John, of 
Manhattan; a daughter, Katherine, of London; a son, Paul, of Dubai; and two 

His other books include "Macmillan: A Study in Ambiguity" (1967); "Seven 
Sisters: The Great Oil Companies and the World They Made" (1975); "Arms 
Bazaar: From Lebanon to Lockheed" (1977); and "Black and Gold" (1987), a 
study of international business and black politics in South Africa.

Mr. Sampson, who returned often to South Africa, wrote evocatively of life 
in the country's black townships. Writing in The New York Times Magazine in 
May 1960, two months after the Sharpeville massacre, he observed:

"The black cities of South Africa are kept separate from the white cities 
by all the elaborate devices of apartheid. By day the Africans work in the 
same offices, factories or shops as the white men, and jostle in the same 
streets; but every night they are separated, and travel in their segregated 
trains to their segregated townships.

"To the whites, the lives of their black office boys or chauffeurs seem 
unimaginably separate and isolated from their own. . . . But to the urban 
Africans, the 'Europeans' are the ones who seem isolated, in their remote 
and hidden mansions in the superior suburbs. The Africans no longer feel 
themselves reliant on white patrons or promoters for their education and 
cultural development; they see themselves as the heirs of Western 
civilization, and the 'Europeans' as the impostors."






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