Mandela: The Authorised Biography

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Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom revealed little of certain major episodes in Mandela’s life. Sampson’s book was one of the first to examine such issues as Winnie Mandela’s crimes, and State President FW de Klerk’s suspected attempts to use the security forces to derail peace talks.

Tuesday 14 June 2011 15:11

Perhaps no living historical figure, with the possible exception of Pope John Paul II, enjoys the worldwide honor and affection accorded Nelson Mandela.

British journalist Anthony Sampson first met Nelson Mandela in 1951, when Sampson was editing a black magazine in Johannesburg, and his biography of the leader benefits greatly from his long familiarity with South Africa and his access to the 81-year-old statesman’s unpublished letters and documents. These are particularly helpful in chronicling Mandela’s political and spiritual odyssey during 27 years in prison, when the fiery anti-apartheid militant condemned to life imprisonment in 1964 evolved into a dignified, authoritative leader convinced that “reconciliation would be essential to survival.

” The roots of this stance lie deep in African history; Sampson’s excellent chapters on Mandela’s rural youth remind readers that he was the aristocratic scion of a royal family who early imbibed the tribal tradition of ubuntu (mutual responsibility and compassion) and the local king’s emphasis on ruling by consensus. South Africa’s relatively peaceful transition to multiracial democracy owes much to Mandela’s ability to voice these concepts in contemporary terms. And Sampson’s detailed explication of the ins and outs of revolutionary politics over five decades–though sometimes heavy going for the general reader–vividly reveals how his subject achieved the political and moral maturity that made his 1994 election as the nation’s first black president both inevitable and exhilarating. –Wendy Smith –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. – source Amazon.com