He was a child of royalty, born and raised to defend tradition. But his African name - Rolihlahla, meaning 'tree shaker' - hinted at a very different future. Nelson Mandela would spend most of his life shaking his country to its roots.
This newly updated edition of New York Times veteran Bill Keller's moving biography looks back on Mandela's life, offering a clear-eyed view of his legacy and bringing his remarkable story to a new generation of readers.
I grew up in South Africa and thought that I would be reading this and thinking that is not quite right or not what I remember happening but much to my amazement I read the book and found that a lot was exactly what was told in our history class (the very early history) and I can't comment on Nelson Mandela's history as the first time I ever heard his name was when the world was calling for him to be free but from what I have read and heard since then this is reasonably accurate.
I found myself thinking that I really need to find a copy of his book Long Walk to Freedom since it was writeen by Nelson Mandela himself and it would be good to see things from the other point of view. I was surprised that the author included facts about how the black students refused to go to school since that was in direct opposition to what the world was being told (that the black people didn't have any schools etc) and that made me more comfortable reading the book.
I was there for the 1994 election and yes the atmosphere was not that good, there were promises made that were clearly impossible to keep and some of the tactics used by the various political parties were incredibly dirty but at the end of the day you have to admire Nelson Mandela for his vision and handling of a very difficult situation that could have ended incredibly badly.
I'm keeping this book for my kids to be able to read when they are older as they are just a bit young to understand what happened and how it affected a lot of people. My 6 year old is totally amazed that I grew up speaking English as I didn't live in New Zealand when I was a child (his words).
I really enjoyed the articles at the end of the book and the time line as it puts it all into prospective and makes me appreciate exactly how difficult a situation it was. I'm going to read the articles again in the morning as I find it fascinating but then all history is fascinating.
I would recommend that people keep an open mind when reading this book, it doesn't go into all details of what actually happened and just how horrific it was and I'm going to see what I can do to find My Long Walk to Freedom and see if there are more details in there as growing up Nelson Mandela was never mentioned and I would really like to know the full story from his viewpoint.
When KIWIreviews announced they had copies of Nelson Mandela books up for review I instantly applied for both. My application was declined on the other but accepted for this one. I have to be perfectly honest and say I wish I had gotten the other. I also need to justify why I have only scored an 8 for accuracy: the book/story is quite accurate I am sure however I do feel the book is not quite an accurate story about Nelson Mandela.
I honestly feel a more accurate title for this book would be South Africa featuring the Tree Shaker. Yes Nelson Mandela is photographed regularly through-out the book. Yes his life is mentioned from his birth through to becoming president and yes his imprisonment is mentioned but the majority of the book is accounts of the war, violence, poverty and distress that plagued South Africa.
I am fully aware that this is what Nelson Mandela aimed to change, but I personally feel the book was more about Africa and the author's experiences there then anything else. Perhaps an even more appropriate title could be. My time in Africa or A day with Nelson Mandela.
However all that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I learnt a lot from it and am pleased my 13 year old is now also reading it. I liked the personal account from the author and I very much enjoyed the articles that are included at the end of the book after the story. All in all it is a good read but if you are looking for a book that talks more about Nelson Mandela's journey then this is not really the book for you.
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"Character - the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life - is the source from which self respect springs."
Joan Didion (1934 - ), 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'