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Born a Crime summary

Trevor Noah

Stories from a South African Childhood

4.4 (110 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah is a compelling memoir that shares the comedian's experiences growing up as a mixed-race child in apartheid-era South Africa.
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    Born a Crime
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    In apartheid South Africa, Trevor Noah's birth was a crime.

    You’re no doubt familiar with Trevor Noah, the world-famous comedian who’s also the host of the Daily Show. What you may not know, however, is how extraordinary his birth and upbringing were.

    Noah was born during apartheid in South Africa.

    Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced in the country between 1948 and 1991 – a system whose roots stretch all the way back to 1652, when Dutch traders settled on the Cape of Good Hope and enslaved the indigenous peoples. When the British began to take control in the mid-1800s, the Dutch settlers – now known as Afrikaners – moved inland and developed their own culture. Once the British left, the Afrikaners took over and established a convoluted code of law and surveillance – stretching to some 3,000 pages – to suppress Blacks.

    One of these laws ruled that interracial sex was illegal. When you think about it, such a law was “philosophically” important to the racist system. After all, if sexual relations between races did occur, they would compromise the racist idea that it was unnatural for races to want to mix. Simply put, it would undermine racism and a racist system like apartheid.

    Transgressors were imprisoned – men for up to five years and women for up to four. However, in practice, Black men were often charged with rape if they had sex with white women. The crime was of such importance to the regime that special police units were tasked with spying through windows behind which illegal intercourse might be underway.

    It was into this world that Noah, on February 20, 1984, was born. His mother was Black and his father was white. By creating a baby, both of them had risked prison. Noah was, quite literally, evidence of a crime.

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    What is Born a Crime about?

    Born a Crime (2016) is about Trevor Noah's childhood and adolescence in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. A child of mixed heritage, Noah details the challenges he faced and the peculiarities that existed when he was growing up.

    Born a Crime Review

    Born A Crime (2016) offers a unique perspective on life under apartheid. Here's why you should read this book:

    • It provides a personal and relatable account of the challenges faced by those living under apartheid.
    • The book offers valuable insights into South African culture, history, and politics.
    • Trevor Noah's humor and wit make the memoir engaging and entertaining.

    Enrich your understanding of South Africa's past by reading Born A Crime.

    Best quote from Born a Crime

    Where most children are proof of their parents love, I was proof of their criminality.

    —Trevor Noah
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    Who should read Born a Crime?

    • Trevor Noah fans
    • Those interested in life during and after apartheid in South Africa
    • Anyone after an inspiring personal story

    About the Author

    Trevor Noah is a world-renowned South African comedian, as well as a radio and television host. He has been hosting the Daily Show since September 2015, and has won numerous prizes, most recently the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards for Best Host.

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    Born a Crime FAQs 

    What is the main message of Born A Crime?

    Born A Crime shares Trevor Noah's experiences growing up in apartheid-era South Africa.

    How long does it take to read Born A Crime?

    Reading Born A Crime takes around 7 hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in 15 minutes.

    Is Born A Crime a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Born A Crime is an engaging, insightful memoir that's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Born A Crime?

    The author of Born A Crime is Trevor Noah.

    How many chapters are in Born A Crime?

    Born A Crime by Trevor Noah has 18 chapters

    1. Run
    2. Born a Crime
    3. Trevor, Pray
    4. Chameleon
    5. The Second Girl
    6. Loopholes
    7. Fufi
    8. Robert
    9. My Mother's Life
    10. Soweto
    11. Population Control
    12. Jail
    13. The World Doesn't Love You
    14. Go Hitler!
    15. Black Tax
    16. The Cheese Boys
    17. The Model C School, and
    18. A Young Man's Long, Awkward, Occasionally Tragic, and Frequently Humiliating Education in Affairs of the Heart.

    How many pages are in Born A Crime?

    Born A Crime has 304 pages.

    When was Born A Crime published?

    Born A Crime was published in 2016.

    What to read after Born a Crime?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Born a Crime, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Bedtime Biography: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
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    • Educated by Tara Westover
    • What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey
    • Don't Believe Everything You Think by Joseph Nguyen
    • Discipline Is Destiny by Ryan Holiday
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
    • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
    • Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari