Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, a classic of modern literature still read by thousands of people every year, brought international attention to the political turmoil in South Africa and its repressive system of apartheid when it was published in 1948. Few people, however, are aware of Paton's astonishing range of abilities, abilities which gave him success in four separate careers: as a teacher, prison reformer, writer, and politician. In Alan Paton: A Biography, Peter F. Alexander, a scholar and writer who knew Paton personally for fifteen years, brings us the first full biography of the South African novelist, written with the cooperation of the writer's widow, his two sons, and based on the most intimate biographical documents, ranging from Paton's and his first wife's diaries to love-letters. Alan Paton: A Biography is the first book to provide insight into those aspects of Paton's life which he chose to exclude from his autobiographies. From the diffculties of his first marriage to his driving ambition to enter South African politics and reform his native country, Paton is shown here as a much more complex and colorful figure than the public perception of him suggests. Alexander reveals that Paton was a man of extreme passions, capable, as a teacher and prison principal, of displays of a violent temper. Towards the end of his life, he became a heavy drinker in spite of a rigorously puritanical upbringing. Yet Paton's highly developed sense of humor, evinced in both his writing and his public speeches, and the generous Christian faith that provided him with an all-embracing philosophy, transcended these flaws, and emerge as perhaps his most distinguishing traits. Alan Paton: A Biography is a "warts and all" portrait of a man whose greatness was hard-won, and whose sympathy and tolerance for others was based on his own moral struggles--and victories. It is also a portrait of 20th Century South Africa and the amazing political metamorphosis that country saw during Paton's lifetime.