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A handful of hard men

Xavier Nagel Agencies is proud to be the distributor of   ‘A handful of hard men-The SAS and the battle for Rhodesia’ written by Hannes Wessels.

During the West’s great transition into the post-Colonial age, the country of Rhodesia refused to succumb quietly, and throughout the 1970s fought back almost alone against Communist supported elements that it did not believe would deliver proper governance.

During this long war many heroes emerged, but none more skillful and courageous than Captain Darrell Watt of the Rhodesian SAS, who placed himself at the tip of the spear in the deadly battle to resist the forces of RHard menobert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo.


It is difficult to find another soldier’s story to equal Watt’s in terms of time spent on the field of battle and challenges faced. Even by the lofty standards of the SAS and Special Forces, one has to look far to find anyone who can match his record of resilience and valor in the face of such daunting odds and with resources so paltry. In the fight he showed himself to be a military maestro. A bush-lore genius, blessed with uncanny instincts and an unbridled determination to close with the enemy, he had no peers as a combat-tracker (and there was plenty of competition). But the Rhodesian theater was a fluid and volatile one in which he performed in almost every imaginable fighting role; as an airborne shock-trooper leading camp attacks, long range reconnaissance operator, covert urban operator, sniper, saboteur, seek-and-strike expert, and in the final stages as a key figure in mobilizing an allied army in neighboring Mozambique.

After 12 years in the cauldron of war his cause slipped from beneath him, however, and Rhodesia gave way to Zimbabwe. When the guns went quiet Watt had won all his battles but lost the war. In this fascinating work we learn that in his twilight years he is now concerned with saving wildlife on a continent where they are in continued danger, devoting himself to both the fauna and African people he has cared so deeply about.


This is a must read for anyone interested in African history and conflict situations. It was written in the political context which will appeal well beyond military readership.


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Murray and Me idiom series now available!

Hetta Elizabetta

The second book in the Murray & Me idiom series, “Hetta Elizabetta en die Wêreld op haar Skouers” (Hetta Elizabetta and the world on her shoulders), has just been released and is an essential addition to every child’s bookshelf. The book was written by actor Milan Murray and is colourfully illustrated by Marisa du Toit.


The increasing absence of idioms from the world of children was the motivation for the series. This latest book was written in rhyme with the focus on alliteration, assonance and metre. The first idiom book, “Pieter Kokkewieter en die Hart op sy Mou” (Pieter Kokkewieter and the heart on his sleeve) was published last year and has already sold some 2 000 copies.Pieter kokkewieter


The Murray&Me idiom series comprises picture books ideal for 6-9 year olds. The stories attempt to introduce Afrikaans idioms to youngsters as a way of encouraging conversations about life skills and values. Its characters are young children who experience and question the world around them, which resonates especially well with young readers.


The publishers are Milan and entrepreneur Charmaine Nolte, who launched their children’s book company Murray&Me last year.


“We’ve seen virtually every day how idioms disappear from our children’s vocabularies,” says Milan. “It was however Prof Betsie van der Westhuizen at the University of Potchefstroom whose caution on the importance of idioms as bridging between concrete and abstract thinking struck a chord.”


The series has already been adopted by subject advisors at schools who recognise the value of the idiom and how it is too often underestimated and excluded from learning programmes.


Linda Bredenkamp, a curriculum advocate and Grade 5 teacher, was the language advisor on the idiom project. She started using the Hetta manuscript in her classes before the book had even gone to print.


“These beautiful picture books can help parents and teachers explore life skills with children in a fun way through reading aloud and self-reading,” says Linda. “Even readers in Grades 4-6 who are still unable to read comfortably will connect with the relevant themes, rhyming text and creative illustrations.”


Milan adds that they selected idioms that “sparked lively images in our minds”. “We also chose idioms associated with particular themes we feel strongly about, such as individuality; the importance of conversation; and, the destructive influence of bullies.”


In “Hetta Elizabetta en die Wêreld op haar Skouers”, an enormous world of problems and anxiety weighs heavily on the shoulders of seven-year-old Hetta.


“Sy wonder – Kry branders ook seer as hulle breek?

En wat gaan als swel as ’n by haar sou steek?

Dink jy die tandemuis

Het ’n woonstel of ’n huis?

En kom AL die muise sáám om ons tande te bespreek?”


“Daar’s ook ’n paar GROTER goed wat haar pla

Wat sy stoksiel-alleen op haar skouers moet dra.

Haar maatjies se baklei

En haar ouers wat stry

En die donker wat haar elke nag bang maak en jaag.”


The third book in the series will be available towards the end of next year and with focus on the idiom “Kop in die Wolke” (Head in the Clouds).


About the author, illustrator and publisher


Milan Murray is a well-known actor and TV personality. She trained in Pretoria and New York, and features regularly in television series and stage productions. She was the anchor presenter for KykNet’s Afrikaans language breakfast show, “Ontbytsake”. Her filmography includes numerous student productions in New York as well as Mooirivier in 2013, Van lyn af in 2014 and Die Muse in 2015.


In 2010 she published her motherhood journal “Koemelaat” and in 2015, her first children’s book “Pieter Kokkewieter en die Hart op sy Mou” with illustrator Marisa du Toit.


Marisa du Toit is a trained dancer and artists. Numerous exhibitions of her art include amongst others a solo exhibition in Ras Al Khaima in Dubai and co-ordinated by Darcy Harris in the US.


Since her family’s return to South Africa seven years ago, she has exhibited full-time while illustrating for books and magazines, and teaching art. Her work adorns various galleries.


Charmaine Nolte is an entrepreneur and the founder of the children’s book company Murray&Me. With over 10 years’ experience in online sales, her vision to produce quality children’s books led to the birth of the Murray&Me idiom series.


As a mother of two, she appreciates the importance of literature and language development in young children, and she strives to create stories that are both entertaining and educational.

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Where’s XNA?

We at Xavier Nagel Agencies apologize for any inconvenience caused during the recent relocation of our office. Our phonemoving line should be transferred next week, but is currently being directed through Bibliophilia Book Shop. If you have any queries or concerns please email Xavier ( or myself (


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Ons Camino reviewed!

The incredible boOns Caminook ‘Ons Camino’ written by Pienkes du Plessis has been reviewed in the latest issue of Sarie and he has been interviewed by Weg!


Click on the links below to read the article and interview and do yourself a favor…buy a copy of the book TODAY.

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Shut your trap and listen.

The immensely talented Christine Weir, author of Shut your trap and sing! was on Cape Talk radio yesterday. Click the link below to hear the interview and don’t forget to get your copy of the book TODAY!



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Florence and Watson and the sugarbush mouse-Trilingual edition!!

Something new has hit the shelves (no it’s not a lost pigeon struggling to find the open window), it’s the latest offering from Rob Van Vuuren, Danielle Bischoff and Lauren Fowler!


Florence and Watson and the sugarbush mouse is a whimsical South African story told (in English, Afrikaans and IsiXhosa) by Florence and Watson, two honey badgers who use rhythm and rhyme to tell the story of Petal – the sugarbush mouse who saves her village with her unique talents. The little striped mouse undergoes a transformative journey, discovering her hidden talent that is set to save Sugarbush Mountain and the Proteas that grow there. This is a story filled with magic and laughter and is the ultimate must read for families everywhere.

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The zombie apocalypse is nigh

We at Xavier Nagel Agencies are very proud to announce that we are fully prepared for the zombie apocalypse! We are not only reading the amazing self help books penned by Lee Herrmann, but we are also distributing them and thus ensuring that as many people as possible know what to do and who to eat.


Zombie Journal

If you need to know what to do while stuck watching your friends prepare the afternoon braai without meat in sight, or if you want to know if Zombie green is in this season or you’re wondering if you still need to wait 12 hours at Home Affairs for your unabridged birth certificate (when you are technically dead), then The South African zombie apocalypse survival guide is a must read.






Self Help

Journal of a South African zombie apocalypse is an intriguing journal written by a sixteen year old which is recovered five years after the apocalypse. A father and his two sons leave the comfort of their home in Pretoria seeking sanctuary away from raiders, religious zealots and zombies. They travel across the country towards Robben Island and in their quest they befriend fellow survivors who encourage them to face this brave new apocalyptic world. Will this family survive against the largest battle known to man….a fight against the walking dead?






Let’s not forget Zombie ZA which is an essential guide on how to act undead in South Africa. This book is filled with tips on how to appear normal; which includes how to avoid having to eat cooked food, how to brush off odd questions and provides support to those eagerly waiting for the apocalypse. This guide helps you to gently break the news to your family and is crucial to your suburban survival.






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XNA is back from outer space (not really)

We at Xavier Nagel Agencies have left the comfort of sand between our toes, the warmth of the sun on our faces and the smell of fresh sea air and…. returned to reality. We are back in the office and eager to see what 2017 has in store for us!

We hope our customers have had a relaxed and fulfilling festive season and look forward to serving you again this year.


Back to work