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Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Paperback – Unabridged, October 1, 1995
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Mandela began his autobiography during the course of his 27 years in prison.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The writing is forceful, and beautiful and honest. I received inspiration, education and amazement from reading this book.
Again, I can't truly do this autobiography justice in a review. If you have EVER had any inclination or interest in reading this? Trust me! It is better than you thought it could be.
Let me end by saying that the best way I can describe this book is that after reading it, it made me determined to be a better person!
I learned a lot about Nelson Mandela whom I knew so little about. South Africa and apartheid was never a major issue in the U.S. hence I learned absolutely nothing about it in school. I remember a big deal being made about Nelson Mandela's release and his presidency but still I never knew more than apartheid was a mistreatment of Black Africans. To what extent and in what form I never knew.
This book delves into how the Afrikaans (White South Africans primarily Dutch) really treated Africans and to what lengths they went to subdue and subjugate the Africans. He discusses the National Party, the various laws enacted and his own political evolution while trying to fight injustice. I learned of the various men and women that were essential to the Africans' fight for equality and about the different groups and organizations that developed as well.
Nelson is amazing if for one thing; he could have had money and ease yet he eschewed that for being a freedom fighter. Nelson grew up a part of the household of a Chief. He got an education and became a lawyer and had considerably more money and liberties than most Africans (although considerably less than most Afrikaans). For many Africans that would have been enough to be placated and they would have sufficed with living relatively comfortably. Nelson was not satisfied with that. He desperately wanted freedom for himself and his people. They weren't slaves, but he wanted freedom in the form of equality and the absence of debilitating laws. Nelson sacrificed two marriages and quality time with his children for the "struggle". Being a freedom fighter drew him away from the home for many hours of the day, many days of the month and many months of the year to eventually many years of his and their lifetimes.
I grew to respect Mandela a lot through this book. I would have given it five stars if not for its length. Mandela was admittedly verbose. I don't know how many pages the book is because, for whatever reason, my Kindle version never told me. I could ascertain my location, my reading speed and my percent completion of the book but not the page. Whatever the amount of pages it was 115 chapters. I know that Nelson wanted to mention those things which affected him or were memorable, but it seemed he mentioned too many details.
Still, the book is excellent and a must read. I'm so happy I read it and now have a greater knowledge of South Africa's history and a greater appreciation of Nelson Mandela the man.
He runs away from home along with his cousin to avoid getting married to someone he didn't like, he carries a gun along with him and is apprehended by the police but manages to convince them to release him. In the city he takes up small jobs to make ends meet and pursues his law studies through correspondence. While working as a clerk in a law firm he is introduced to the ideals and principles of the ANC-African National Congress. He gets increasingly involved with the ANC and becomes an important member of it.
He writes how oppressive apartheid was-black people lived in ghettos and needed passes to commute any where. But he also mentions his own mistakes- how he used to get carried away when he used to give speeches and argue cases.
In the freedom struggle when they try everything and nothing works against the white government they decide to start a militant organisation. Mandela acknowledges that he was part of the decision making process;he expresses surprise when he is conferred the Nobel Prize because he had started a militant organisation. He goes on a world tour collecting funds. He comes back and is in hiding when he is caught by the police.He is sentenced to life imprisonment.
In the prison also there is discrimination between indian prisoners and black prisoners. In jail he is offered shorts to wear-because blacks were considered boys-but refuses to wear them, so the prison guards give him a choice to wear shorts or undergo solitary confinement for a few days. He chooses solitary confinement but after a few days he pleads with the security guards to let him out. It is fascinating how even in prison there are liberal jailers too. He develops an interest in gardening and pursues his education from prison.He mentions how while he was severely tested he too questioned his own choice of joining the freedom struggle.
There are certain thinks in his life you can relate to-like the mistakes he has made or the challenges he has faced-and can take solace and confidence from the fact that everybody faces them in life. But there are qualities in him-like the fact that he had the confidence to disagrees with Gandhi regarding the form of freedom struggle and choose to start a militant organisation, even when he hadn't been acknowledged as a great leader and could have been branded a terrorist; having the will power to believe in a cause for so long; having the courage to be honest about his life-which I can't relate to. I think this is what makes him great in my eyes and he is an inspiration to me.