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Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 790 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0316545853
ISBN-10: 0316545856
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The famously taciturn South African president reveals much of himself in Long Walk to Freedom. A good deal of this autobiography was written secretly while Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island by South Africa's apartheid regime. Among the book's interesting revelations is Mandela's ambivalence toward his lifetime of devotion to public works. It cost him two marriages and kept him distant from a family life he might otherwise have cherished. Long Walk to Freedom also discloses a strong and generous spirit that refused to be broken under the most trying circumstances--a spirit in which just about everybody can find something to admire. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This fluid memoir matches South African President Mandela's stately grace with wise reflection on his life and the freedom struggle that defined it. Mandela began this book in 1975, during his 27-year imprisonment. He has fleshed out a sweeping story that begins in the rural Transkei in 1918 and moves beyond, especially to Johannesburg, where he became politically active as one of only a few black African lawyers. As an African National Congress leader, this military novice helped launch an armed struggle against the intransigent apartheid government, then eloquently explained his political convictions when on trial in 1964 for sabotage. Perhaps the most powerful passages involve the Robben Island prison, where political prisoners formed a "university" and Mandela read books like War and Peace, resisting embitterment and finding decency even in callous Afrikaner jailers. Moved to a mainland prison in 1985, Mandela, unable to consult with exiled ANC leaders, initiated intricate negotiations with the government; the story fascinates. This book-perhaps out of diplomacy and haste-covers the period since Mandela's 1990 release with less nuance and candor than other recent accounts; still his belief in repairing his country inspires. Mandela's family life has involved much sadness: he was not permitted a contact visit with wife Winnie for 21 years, was separated from his two young children and split with Winnie after his release, although he supported her during her 1991 conviction for kidnapping (a sentence she is appealing). "In South Africa," he notes, "a man who tried to fulfill his duty to his people was inevitably ripped from his family and his home." Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 558 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (November 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316545856
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316545853
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (790 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #854,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nelson Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa, on 18 July 1918. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party's apartheid policies after 1948 before being arrested in August 1962. In November 1962 he was sentenced to five years in prison and started serving his sentence at Robben Island Prison in 1963 before being returned to Pretoria, where he was to later stand in the Rivonia Trial. From 1964 to 1982, he was again incarcerated at Robben Island Prison and then later moved to Pollsmoor Prison, during which his reputation as a potent symbol of resistance to the anti-apartheid movement grew steadily.

Released from prison in 1990, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was inaugurated as the first democratically elected president of South Africa in 1994. He is the author of the international bestsellers Long Walk to Freedom and Conversations with Myself.

© Nelson R. Mandela and the Nelson Mandela Foundation / PQ Blackwell Ltd

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I spent the whole of last weekend reading 'Long Walk to freedom'. For two days I didnot leave the world Nelson had trapped me in. As I finished the book and took a walk outside, I stopped seeing people as Hausas or Yorubas, Northerners or Southerners(ethnic groups in Nigeria). All I saw were brothers who could bury the hatchets of ethnicity and forge a country of love and peace. Before I read the book I saw Mandela as a super human with no flaws at all. In the book he painted himself in true colours; accepting his flaws and proclaiming his successes. He is afterall human. I have always believed that life is worth nothing if one can not stand up for what one believes in. I have always advocated to the Marcus Garvey/ Malcolm X forms of freedom fighting. I always thought that peaceful protests were for the spineless. Why would I like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., watch while the enemy unleashes violence on my people? Nelson in the book took me through the intricacies of peaceful civil disturbance and I have come to realise that this form of protest is even more demanding than sheer brute force. 'Long walk...' is a must-read for any one who still has humanity in his being... If you want to share more on 'Long Walk to Freedom' or the struggle of African progressives against oppresive governments, you can reach me at pokigbo3@hotmail.com
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been wanting to read this book so finally ordered it. Imagine how surprised I was to open the book to the title page and it states: Abridgment and Connecting Notes by Richard W. Kelso! However, Amazon's web page never mentions this is an abridged version of the book. I am returning this copy to get the unabridged version of the book published by Little, Brown & Company in 1994.
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Format: Paperback
Please allow yourself a moment to Think before you turn the first page of this manuscript: Think about your name; Think about your family; Think about the warmth of sunlight on your skin; Think about the gift you have to think; Think about things you love and tastes you cherish most; Think about someone you would never wish to live without;and then Think for just a moment, about the cause for which you'd be willing to sacrifice all of the above and so much more for a period of indescribable sufference of spirit-breaking duress. Such strength of mind is perhaps too rare for most of us to even contemplate, however welcome now to the mind that could.
This manuscript is one of the most important pieces of literature ever laid to ink - cherish it and use it to make your own world a little wiser.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite due respect for a great leader, I did not really expect to like this autobiography very much. Mandela is no great speaker, his TV presence is rather flat, his English apparently not masterful. The life story in summary does not seem to have that much interest either, considering the long jail time and the fact that most of the "hot action" of the anti-apartheid movement happened while he was on Robben Island.
All wrong. The writing is surprisingly fluent, the story telling surprisingly efficient and free of waste as well as redundancies. Also free of sentimentality and exaggerated pathos.
If there is anything that I wished to be more detailed it is the period of his childhood and youth. This period is described in a rather remote way and with a sometimes irritating lack of explanation or reflection. I realized that may have happened due to the conditions under which the book was written: in jail. Also I could imagine that editors suggested some shortening: after all the book is still quite hefty.
If there is one negative comment that I have to make, it refers to NM's insistence that all trouble between black groups, such as the Inkatha violence problems, or tribal conflicts, have been caused by the perfidy of the whites. As much as I can understand the psychology behind this wishful thinking, I do not think it is a realistic approach.
Despite this comment and despite the book's size, it is never boring. Highly recommendable.
7 Comments 131 of 144 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I was required to read Long Walk to Freedom for a class in school. I had heard from students who were previously required to read the book that it was too long, and very bad. I did not go into this book with high expectations, which made Long Walk to Freedom a pleasant surprise.
Written by Nelson Mandela over the course of several years, beginning with a first draft written in prison (which was lost to authorities), the book covers each stage of Nelson's life. Beginning with his early childhood in an African tribe, through his education and career as one of the first black lawyers of Africa, and eventually his decision to join the famed political party, the African National Congress, where Nelson began his struggle for equal rights for his people. From there Nelson goes on to describe his life fighting for the freedom of the native people of Africa. Harassed and `banned' by the authorities for his actions, Mr. Mandela's struggle is not an easy one. He would be put on trial three separate times for crimes stemming from his political views, his third trial landing him a life sentence. But with Nelson's natural resiliency in bad situations, and nations all over the world calling for his release, he did not fear spending the rest of his life in prison. His years spent in prison would be long and hard, but he knew upon his release that the long walk to freedom would near an end.
The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela is written well, and its length is not of issue, especially when taking into account how expansive the story of his life really is. The pacing of the story is actually very well done, years are written away in a few pages without anything seeming to be missed.
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