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Conversations with Myself Hardcover – October 11, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The South African statesman and former political prisoner bares his mind and soul in this inspiring collection of writings and interviews. Culled from Mandela's letters, notebooks, taped conversations, prison diaries, calendars, and an unfinished autobiography, the material includes reminiscences of the antiapartheid movement, lessons in revolutionary theory gleaned from his guerrilla training, vignettes of prison life, seething protests to authorities, tender missives to loved ones, canny political strategizing and quiet philosophical reflections. The entries recall moments of high drama, days of dreary routine and interludes of random strangeness, including a prison screening of Revenge of the Nerds. Mandela registers his anger at the humiliations and hardships imposed on him by apartheid, and his anguish over his long separation from his family (officials even denied his requests to attend his mother's and son's funerals). But what comes through most strongly is his steadfast resolve--"the knowledge that in your day you did your duty and lived up to the expectations of your fellow man is in itself a reward"--and a shrewd, ebullient humanity that finds and embraces the good even in his prison guards. The result is a moving account of Mandela's struggle and a testament to his triumph. Photos. (Oct.)
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From Booklist

He has been called the most famous person in the world. Certainly for 27 years he was the most famous prisoner until his release in 1990 and then his election in 1994 as the first president of a democratic South Africa. He was welcomed by the pope, the queen, and world leaders everywhere. But even with the shelves of books by and about him, this volume of personal papers, published worldwide in 21 editions and languages, adds much that has never been said before about Nelson Mandela, including diary entries from his time in the underground, debates about passive resistance and guerrilla warfare, letters from prison, and recorded reminiscences with former fellow prisoners. Mandela knew that his letters, even those to his young daughters, might not get past the prison censors, so he kept copies in a journal that was always with him. Now official archivists have arranged this material chronologically, including some facsimiles in Mandela’s own handwriting. Yes, readers will skip some of the bits and pieces, but not much. He is as eloquent about the personal, such as his two-year “honeymoon” with his wife, Winnie (“We kept warning each other we were living on borrowed time”), as he is about the universal (his letter from Robben Island to the authorities about the rights of prisoners). Sure to spark debate is Mandela’s answer to the famous criticism that he hurt his family to help the nation: he had to do it because “hundreds, millions, in our country are suffering.” With a foreword by Barack Obama, this insightful volume includes a time line, map, and detailed notes on related people, places, and events. --Hazel Rochman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374128952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374128951
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cory Geurts on October 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Conversations With Myself" is a unique book. It is an intuitively organized compilation of excerpts from the notebooks and diaries Mandela kept while imprisoned for 27 years, personal files, correspondence, presidential speeches, interview transcripts, and the unpublished sequel to his autobiography. It is a snapshot in time, beginning before his incarceration in 1963 and ending after the post-apartheid transition period of the 1990's.

The intimacy provided by these most personal of documents is truly special. Readers will connect with Mandela not only on an intellectual basis but also on a deeply emotional level. This is Mandela the prisoner, the parent, the husband, and the president.

It is important to keep in mind that this book is an archive. It may seem somewhat disjointed if compared to narrative books. There are some draft letters, incomplete outlines, thought fragments, and journal snippets. This is the nature of an archive, and though it is well-edited, this book may take some getting used to.

Instead of one or two sections of photos in the middle of the book, readers will find copies of some of the actual source documents, mostly written in Mandela's own hand, every few pages. Several useful appendices are included: a timeline, maps, a list of abbreviations, and list of "People, Places, and Events" which I found to be indispensable.

The publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, offers a brief reading group guide on their website at fsgbooks (dot com). Even readers who are unable to participate in a group discussion like myself are likely to find this resource to be quite helpful.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a rather very interesting & personal book, composed of Nelson Mandela's vast archive material in the form of letters, papers, conversations, interviews & speeches/recordings he made/written while in Robben Island as a prisoner, after his release from prison & when he was the first democratic elected President of South Africa and the book is titled "Conversations With Myself". It has been put together by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, dedicated to his grand-daughter who died in a car accident in June this year during Fifa Soccer World Cup 2010 & is foreworded by President Barack Obama.

The book outlines Nelson Mandela's views among others on leadership & as well as his fallability as a human being : he was quite 'anxious/uncomfortable' while in Robben Island that he was being regarded/portrayed as a Saint by some followers/quarters. He does not however regard himself as a Saint even though his definition of a "Saint is a sinner who keeps on trying/repenting"!

This book is an excellent read because of a diversity of material contained : it's not like a story with a plot or narrative thread. Thus this book can be studied in bits/chunks as you wish with ease without loosing 'the flow' of the book. Some of his letters/speeches reflected/presented in this book are in Nelson Mandela's own handwriting, making this book rather very personal & special (collectable). This book, "Nelson Mandela : Conversations With Myself", is a highly recommended reading from one of the most famous prisoners in the world, known for his fight for human rights (Nobel Peace Prize Winner), reconciliation & a humble personality (and hence his declaration as no Saint).
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Format: Hardcover
I have never read an autobiography before but is not one.It is put together by notes he made,letters he wrote and interviews.From all these bits and pieces there is a great flow and easy to read.It brings to the reader his great thoughts and views on specific events that happened to him during his life.

If you cant meet the man,see the man or get close to the man this is an alternative to get a chance to reach out to him though this book of personal letters and notes.

I recommend this to anyone to sit back and change from the trash that is pumped out from authors every day and think and feel what this great man is feeling.
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Format: Hardcover
The latest and probably last book written or at least designed by Nelson Mandela himself. It is a trip back into our past because he is our past. As far as I remember Nelson Mandela was standing there as the "eternal" prisoner of South Africa. We signed petitions, we demonstrated, we read poems demanding his liberation, we took part in exhibitions to express our solidarity. And one day he was free and he has remained, even when he was the President of South Africa, or when we can see him in a film, documentary or fiction, that symbol of the eternal prisoner who will always stand for the want, lack and need, of liberation, for everyone everywhere to be liberated and free.

But this book goes so far beyond this simple recollection of ours. It depicts a full panorama of his life, his thoughts, and his feelings. Small details, small events, small fights, small victories that build a full story, a myth even, a dream of a future that has the deepest roots in the past. We feel his fears and his joys, his frustrations and his satisfactions when something is refused to him, when something is retained from him, when something is granted to him, even if with some grumbling and resentment. Life is a long series of small events and the magnitude of some is not in the events themselves but in the symbolical value they take in the minds and the eyes of the people who witness the events.

And Nelson Mandela is so true to life, so naïve too.
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