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Mandela's Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage Hardcover – March 30, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After spending two years with Nelson Mandela collaborating on his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, author and Time managing editor Stengel (You're Too Kind) felt that leaving Mandela's side "was like the sun going out of my life." In 15 compelling chapters, Stengel uses his inside perspective and more than 70 hours of taped interviews to distill wisdom from "the grandfather of South Africa," who recently turned 91, while also recounting stories from Mandela's childhood, his days as a revolutionary, his 27-year imprisonment, and his time negotiating for the country's first democratic elections. Stengel also explores Mandela's romantic relationships, including his three wives (the latest of whom, Graca Machel, he married at age 80). It's the intersection of Mandela's personal life with his part in world history that makes this portrait so vivid and compelling; indeed, the personal role he's played in Stengel's life (it was Mandela who urged Stengel to marry his wife; he became godfather to Stengel's first son) lend the volume's self-help aspects real resonance. Peeling back the many layers of Mandela's life, Stengel provides a clear view of Mandela's legacy and the lessons he has to teach.
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“There is no man I admire more than Nelson Mandela. Rick Sten­gel’s wise and moving book captures the Nelson Mandela I have been privileged to know. But reading Mandela’s Way gave me new insights and inspiration. I am confident it will give the same gifts to others. I was inspired anew, and I know others will be too.”—President Bill Clinton
“This delightfully inspiring book is a philosophical guide to how we can aspire to achieve Mandela’s grace and how we can draw upon his great­ness as a model for the comportment of our lives each day.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
“Nelson Mandela has lived every word of his teaching, whatever the cost. His abiding lesson is about forgiveness. Mandela’s Way takes us into the inner life of one of the most of important heroes of the century. There are lessons here that could radically change the way you live your life.”—Deepak Chopra, author of The Ultimate Happiness Prescription
Mandela’s Way is a timely and welcome reminder of this great man’s political genius, personal integrity, and peerless instinct for survival and triumph. Every world leader should keep Mandela’s Way within easy reach.”—Tom Brokaw
“Here is the wisdom of the world’s greatest moral leader brilliantly distilled by a wonderful writer. From the time they spent working closely together on Mandela’s memoirs, Rick Stengel draws fifteen big life lessons plus hundreds of smaller insights, while also giving us an intimate and astonishingly honest look at this inspiring human being.”—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Einstein
Mandela’s Way is an electrically exciting, direct, and vivid way of making greatness tangible, human and complex. Richard Stengel has honed all the elegance and lucidity of thirty years of brilliant cultural and political writing into a book to illuminate, to inspire—and to endure.”—Pico Iyer, author of The Open Road and The Lady and the Monk

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; 1 edition (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307460681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307460684
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 71 people found the following review helpful By D. Reinstein TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are 15 short chapters, referred to as 'lessons' in Richard Stengel's new book, "Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage," I confess that after reading the first four of them, "Courage is Not the Absence of Fear," "Be Measured," "Lead from the Front" and "Lead from the Back" I felt that I had the idea and was very close to putting the book down. The themes seemed clear and were already striking me as unnecessarily redundant. Mandela is a truly remarkable person, one who has lived at least three lives; One before his 27 years as a prisoner of the Apartheid regime in his native South Africa, the second while actually in prison and the third since his release. He has changed through each and has become the patient, calm man whose vision is always the 'long view' as opposed to what he regards as the less-than-useful 'short view' that he had when he was younger.
I decided to finish the book anyway. At 239 short pages, it seemed a small investment to see if there was still more to learn about him.
Stengel got very close to Nelson Mandela. For an extended period, he was by his side nearly constantly and had many, many more conversations that Mandela had originally agreed to. Clearly, the picture developed by Stengel became as important to the subject as it was to the author. The unusualness of the man is clear and while few others could be expected to arrive at his style, way of thinking and manner of approaching friends and enemies alike, one comes away from this brief but important book with the sense that it is, in the end, unusual people with unusual ways who achieve unusual (and in this instance, unlikely) things.
Viewed as a traitor by some former comrades, Mandela managed to shape a new reality in South Africa by doing things thought impossible.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mark B TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book provides great insight into Mandela the man. If this book was advertised as a biography, it would earn five stars. But it is advertised as a book of lessons we can apply to our own lives. In that regard it came up a bit short for me, introducing life lessons here and there and providing broad-sweeping examples of leadership and character, but rarely getting to those golden "a-ha" moments that readers value. Basically, it takes the same life lessons we have read about in many other books and wraps them around Mandela. So it is a must-read for any student or fan of Mr. Mandela, or if you just want to understand this great leader at a deeper level. In that area, it is very good and I enjoyed reading it. But as a book of life lessons, for me it was missing freshness and impact.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By George P. Wood VINE VOICE on March 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What would Nelson Mandela do?

Toward the end of Mandela's Way, Richard Stengel asks this question. Stengel helped Mandela write his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, in the early 1990s, and this question helped him "internalize [Mandela] and his ideas." Mandela's Way is biographical, but with a moral point. How can reflecting on the life of Nelson Mandela help us live?

The tradition of biography as moral exercise is as old as the Greeks and Romans, not to mention Jews and Christians, but it has taken new form with the uniquely American literary genre of Leadership Secrets of X, usually some famous person. When I picked up Mandela's Way, I was hoping for the older form of the tradition but worried that I would get the newer one. Few things are more aggravating than the simplification of a person's life for the purpose of making the reader a better businessman. Stengel, thankfully, did not disappoint me.

As a college student in the late 80s and early 90s, I was aware of Mandela and the struggle of the African National Congress and others to end South African apartheid. I knew little about the man, however. Mandela's Way is an excellent introduction to his life and struggle, presented thematically rather than chronologically. If one metric of a book's quality is that it inspires you to read more on the subject, then this book is quite successful.

The subtitle of Stengel's book is Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage. My guess is that Stengel's publisher came up with this verbiage, as a nod to the newer form of moral biography. The lessons are simple--"Courage is not the absence of fear," "Lead from the front," "Lead from the back," etc.--without being simplistic.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Adam Khan VINE VOICE on March 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the introduction is an engrossing description of the complex personality and personal habits of Nelson Mandela. The writing is flowing and exceptionally easy to read. When I got to the end of the book, I realized why: The author is the editor of Time magazine.

"I've never known a human being who can be as still as Nelson Mandela," writes Richard Stengel in the introduction. "When he is sitting and listening, he does not tap his fingers or his foot, or move about. He has no nervous tics. When I have adjusted his tie or smoothed his jacket or fixed a microphone on his lapel, it was like fussing with a statue. When he listens to you, it is as though you were looking at a still photograph of him. You would barely know he was breathing."

Mandela's personality is complex and seemingly contradictory. He is still but he's also "a power charmer -- confident that he will charm you, by whatever means possible," writes Stengel. "He is attentive, courtly, winning, and, to use a word he would hate, seductive. And he works at it. He will learn as much as he can about you before meeting you."

The book is rich with telling anecdotes from Mandela's fascinating career to illustrate the fifteen lessons. Stengel had a lot of material to choose from. He worked with Mandela on his autobiography for nearly three years and "during much of that time," wrote Stengel, "I saw him almost every day. I traveled with him, ate with him, tied his shoes, straightened his tie -- and spent hours and hours in conversation with him about his life and work..."

With all this firsthand experience of Mandela, Stengel was privy to an untold number of insights into successful living.
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