- Paperback: 656 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1st Paperback Ed edition (October 1, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316548189
- ISBN-13: 978-0316548182
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 2 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 960 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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!
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.
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