117 Days

An Account of Confinement and Interrogation

Ruth First


  • Penguin
  • London
  • 2009
  • English
  • Paperback
  • 160 pages


An invaluable testimonial of the excesses of the apartheid system, 117 Days presents the harrowing chronicle of journalist Ruth First's isolation and abuse at the hands of South African interrogators after her arrest in 1963. Upon her arrest, she was detained in solitary confinement under South Africa's notorious ninety-day detention law. This is the story of the war of nerves that ensued between First and her Special Branch captors-a work that remains a classic portrait of oppression and the dignity of the human spirit.


[Ruth First's] life, and her death, remains a beacon to all who love liberty. - Nelson Mandela, former South African president.


Ruth First (1925–1982) was a journalist, editor, activist and author whose leadership in the anti-apartheid movement put her in the sights of South Africa’s notoriously repressive law enforcement community.