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Customer Review

on January 16, 2007
Despite due respect for a great leader, I did not really expect to like this autobiography very much. Mandela is no great speaker, his TV presence is rather flat, his English apparently not masterful. The life story in summary does not seem to have that much interest either, considering the long jail time and the fact that most of the "hot action" of the anti-apartheid movement happened while he was on Robben Island.
All wrong. The writing is surprisingly fluent, the story telling surprisingly efficient and free of waste as well as redundancies. Also free of sentimentality and exaggerated pathos.
If there is anything that I wished to be more detailed it is the period of his childhood and youth. This period is described in a rather remote way and with a sometimes irritating lack of explanation or reflection. I realized that may have happened due to the conditions under which the book was written: in jail. Also I could imagine that editors suggested some shortening: after all the book is still quite hefty.
If there is one negative comment that I have to make, it refers to NM's insistence that all trouble between black groups, such as the Inkatha violence problems, or tribal conflicts, have been caused by the perfidy of the whites. As much as I can understand the psychology behind this wishful thinking, I do not think it is a realistic approach.
Despite this comment and despite the book's size, it is never boring. Highly recommendable.
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