The Rise of the South African Reich, first published by Penguin Africa Library in 1964 and revised in 1969, analyses the period in which the political foundations of the apartheid regime were laid.
It traces the mobilisation of Nationalist Party power in the 1930s and 1940s around an ideology which had close affinities with that of Nazism. It documents the steps by which the Nationalist Party, having become the ruling party in 1948, consolidated its power: control of the trade unions, banning of mass political organisations, control of education and censorship of ideas, and the building of a massive armed machinery of repression.
After the writing of the book the apartheid regime shifted its social base, greatly expanded its repressive capacity and introduced new elements in its strategy for maintaining minority control. The political map of Southern Africa was redrawn by the advancing forces of liberation..
The book was written in the 1960s, a period which many observers labelled as one of 'political quiescence'. Bunting, however makes clear in his account of the regime's preparations for the defence of apartheid by military means, that the mass political mobilisation which later threatened the regime was built on an unbroken history of resistance.