At the height of the Great Depression, Drury Pifer's father - a mining engineer with two college degrees and no job prospects - embarked on a search for security and adventure in the gold and diamond mines of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer's South Africa. The young hopeful and his wife knew nothing of the brutal working conditions, desert winds, and hidebound prejudices that awaited them. "Advancement in the mines was a game of favorites, and my father was an American," writes Drury Pifer. "He lacked both the tribal instincts of the Afrikaner and the colonial assumptions of the English." Although he was a practical man, the engineer's faith in honesty and hard work made him an innocent in Africa.
Supplemented by his mother's witty letters and diaries, Dury Pifer's beautifully written account testifies to his family's power to make light of dark and often dangerous circumstances. The lyricism and insight Pifer brings to the landscape of his birth also inform the portraits of his parents - among the most vivid and inspiring of the genre.