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The Owl of Minerva, and e-book by Richard Stone, is a collection of essays about the changing balance of forces across Southern Africa from the Portuguese coup of April, 1974, to the collapse of the Apartheid system in South Africa two decades later.

Attention is paid to the progressive role of Cuba with support for national liberation movements across the region together with their defence of the MPLA government in Angola.

Richard Stone, an AILASA member, has had a long-time interest in Portuguese colonial history, its strategic significance for US-led defence and security systems which also included a central role for Apartheid South Africa and Cuba as part of the liberation forces.

The e-book has made extensive use of recently declassified documents from both the US National Archives and British Commonwealth together with access to military and other publications made available in South Africa. Rather than relying upon the role of conflicting political philosophies during the previous Cold War, emphasis has been placed upon the range and capacity of electronic warfare systems for the establishment of US-led diplomacy and the concept of 'US interests'.

The e-book provides a good introduction for undergraduate students of colonial affairs and those interested in military and diplomatic history. Students of contemporary politics, likewise, will also find the e-book useful for studying developments within the developing countries and their relationship with the advanced, industrial world.

Sections of the e-book also deal with attempts by the Apartheid government in Pretoria to establish viable diplomatic links with countries of the Southern Cone in a desperate attempts to break sanctions imposed upon the regime. Other sections deal with US-led defence and security provision linking Australia into the Southern Ocean Defence Plan and countries of Latin America. Political developments in the three hubs of the vast defence and security system, in Argentina, South Africa and Australia, are covered during the contentious period of the mid-1970s. Older readers, still interested in the Pinochet military coup in Chile, 1973, and the Dissolution of the Whitlam administration in 1975, might find some recently available documents throw considerable light upon the players of the period.

The e-book is dedicated to Steve Hunt (1952-2003), a former US National Security Agency intelligence operative who was interviewed by Richard Stone about his tour of duty on Diego Garcia during the early 1980s. Much of the information revealed by Steve Hunt was subsequently made available in the public domain through US museum archives and other sources despite having been previously denied by the Pentagon for decades. The interview, which was published in a London-based daily national newspaper, is included in the collection of essays.

The e-book is available to AILASA members and supporters free of charge from Richard Stone by contacting him with an email address. The link for the publication is then forwarded for access after being placed on a computer browser.

Richard Stone is currently working upon a second volume of the publication which will include sections dealing with China's foreign policy toward the region during the previous Cold War period and other issues including the Smit murders, one of South Africa's most controversial and, as yet, unresolved crimes, where a leading member of the Apartheid regime and his wife were eliminated under highly suspicious circumstances after discovering serious irregularities at the top of the political system in Pretoria and Washington during the early to mid-1970s.

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