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Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Paperback – Illustrated, October 1, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Back Bay Books; Illustrated edition (October 1, 1995)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 656 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316548189
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316548182
- Item Weight : 1.37 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.45 x 2.05 x 8.1 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #6,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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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!
Most people are familiar with Mandela and how he went from political prisoner to president of South Africa, but here is the story in his own words.
I felt that while overall the narrative followed an A-to-B path, there were places where it seemed to drag. The beginning was dry as it dealt with histories of different tribes and Mandela's own inauspicious early childhood. There were times he described meeting people for the first time, and went into in-depth descriptions of where they attended school and what degrees they had. I can only assume he did this to show that the other men involved in the struggle against apartheid were educated men, not "commoners," but it felt forced and inauthentic.
Imagine writing your own autobiography and including a passage like this: "It was the 17th of April, 2006 at a party in the house of Jim Jennings whose parents were out of town on a diplomatic trip. Jim, a political science major introduced me to Ernie Bale, who held a B.A. in Russian history and was into artisan goat cheese. Ernie, in turn, introduced me to Calvin Winters and George Galvez. Calvin was a neurosurgeon who also held a masters in journalism and spoke 12 languages, and George was a college professor who taught art history and collected the toenail clippings of 15th century Indian princesses."
It just doesn't flow.
What did work, and was thoroughly chilling considering the current political climate in the USA, was the description of how the government of middle-aged white men sought to retain positions of power by enforcing segregation of and sowing discord among non-white families. Mandela's sense of injustice and his fight for freedom and equality for people of all skin hues was inspiring. Frankly, I don't know if I would have the same rigid sense of ideals if keeping them kept me away from wife and family for a quarter century.
For all that it contained, also notable was the lack of inclusion of some of Winnie's involvement in less-than-savory activities. I was looking forward to reading about this, but Mandela glossed it over without detailed description, and attributed it to her basically "falling in with a bad crowd." It is possible to love someone while acknowledging their faults, but here they seem to be ignored in favor of, "She was my wife and stood by me while I was imprisoned, so how can I not support her in turn?"
Overall, it was a good read, and I'm not sorry I read it, but it could have benefited by better editing and having fewer information dumps.
4 out of 5 stars
Many years later, when I worked in the medical field, I was very privileged to get the opportunity to personally meet the president. I took my hardcover edition of "The Long Walk to Freedom" with me and asked him to autograph it, which he did with extreme grace. Years later I read the very same book from cover to cover which he had signed. The book is long, and at that stage in my life I couldn't take it all in. Now that Mandela has passed I decided to get the kindle version, as I didn't want to risk ruining my precious signed edition. The second time around I am enjoying it even more. His voice rings in my ears as I read his words, and I can see him clearly in front of me. What an incredible man he was. The way in which he comes across in his book is the exact person that I met in 1994. I think that anyone who has heard the name Mandela, whether they are South African or not, and who feels they want to know this exceptional man a little better and know what true humility is should definitely read this book.
Top reviews from other countries
Haile Selassie said in his speech at the UN on 6th October 1963: ''That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil''
Long LIVE Madiba, LONG LIVE!
I read this book as an academic resource but it is written in such a readable way full of personal anecdotes that it's accessible to most readers. The biography covers all of Mandela 's life from childhood right through to his presidential inauguration tracing the development of his character and ideology. It gives a clear primary account of what role Mandela played in the forming of the Youth wing of the ANC, forming its policy throughout the 50s and 60s, and his experience in prison.
The only caviet I would give is that this is a long book which can feel slightly repetitive in certain chapters but if you want an authoritative account of Apartheid and Mandela this is certainly worth the time.
Starting from the very humble beginnings its tells of Nelsons journey from his tribal start through his joining the ANC, his reasoning into why he started a small army set upon sabotage, his arrest, trial and release.
What comes to front of your mind is Nelsons unbelievable belief in what he is doing. He has a vision in mind for how he wants South Africa to be and nothing can shake this. All of his actions are taken in alignment with this belief. As he has, he is willing to give his life for his people and he is willing also to die for his people.
The story has many fascinating inside some personal such as his family life and marriages, and some quite deep insight into how a man becomes a leader.
The only downside to this audio CD for me , was the sometimes monotonous and uninspiring voice of Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) a strange choice for such an inspiring speaker, and the difficulties I particular had with the pronunciation of South African names and places.