Nelson Mandela: A Biography

Nelson Mandela: A Biography

From the prison, to the presidency, Meredith paints a vivid portrait of Mandela's inspiring life and times, providing fresh insight into the history of the anti-apartheid movement and new revelations about its most compelling figure.

Reviews of the Nelson Mandela: A Biography

You see it on the news every day in movies heck even on documentaries USA for Africa - We are the World One day long long ago a baby boy was born: Born Rolihlahla Mandela 18 July 1918 Died 5 December 2013 (aged 95) Resting place Mandela Graveyard Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student protest. BUT He completed his BA through the University of South Africa and went back to Fort Hare for his graduation in 1943. Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped to form the ANC Youth League (ANCYL). The Treason Trial He became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. Nelson Mandela speech that changed the world

A man who rose above the narrow-mindedness of his surrounding society and transformed his country from apartheid to near greatness (admittedly South Africa has a way to go before it can be qualified as great). Mr. Meredith presents Nelson Mandela against the backdrop of a South Africa that was a racist police state which did not allow any people of colour to transgress its severe limitations. South Africa is one of the few countries since the end of the Second World War (aside from Japan and Germany) that has altered itself so successfully.

The reader is exposed to Mandelas personal development at the same time Meredith incorporates the history of the African National Congress (ANC) into the narrative. Meredith explores ANC policy as it tries to implement a strategy to deal with apartheid and presents the factions that developed within the party as the party elites pursued a more moderate approach when compared to the younger generation that emerged during World War II that wanted to pursue a more violent and radical program. The years 1990-1994 are vitally important and provide insights in trying to understand the South African political persona, and why Mandelas achievement of a bi-racial democracy for South Africa was so important. Aside from Mandela, individuals such as Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo emerge as important figures that deserve a great deal of credit for the evolution of ANC policy and resulting successes. Mandelas political naiveté is an important component when dealing with his world view. When dealing with Winnie or negotiations with de Klerk and others Mandela develops rationalizations to justify his positions, it is as if he has tunnel vision when he confronts evidence that does not support his world view. Once Mandela becomes president of South Africa Meredith should be more balanced in describing a benign patriarch, floating above the political hurly-burly and taking a broad-brush approach to government(567) because of the problems that ensued after he left office and was replaced by Govan Mbeki. Meredith presents Mandelas flaws but he is correct in praising his subject in that without him apartheid would have witnessed a much more violent end than transpired under his leadership.

Despite an unusually large number of books chronicling the life and struggle of the African continents most famous 20th Century leader (including his own 1994 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom), Merediths work covers perhaps the widest berth of information available on the lawyer turned revolutionary who finally prevailed on reversing years of injustice in the South African nation. Even through accusations of Mandelas own improprieties and the leaders own divorce, Meredith covers every significant turn with extensive research and attention to detail.

In this exhaustive biography, Meredith traces Mandelas life starting from his early childhood years, through his young days in the movement, his imprisonment and subsequent release, his presidency and retirement right through up until he withdrew from public life in 1997. Instead, Meredith provides a balanced perspective on the life and character of Mandela.

Once the biography gets into Mandela's work for the rights of black citizens, it picks up. Also the author does not shy away from Mandela the hero for People's rights versus Mandela the flawed human being.

Meredith devotes a lot of space to the people and politics around Mandela, giving useful pocket histories of the ANC, the National Party, and the political environment out of which apartheid arose.

I enjoyed this biography, especially because I felt it a somewhat unbiased view of his life.

My discussions with my South African colleague while I was reading the book made it a more interesting read.

Residing near Oxford, he is now an independent commentator and author.

  • English

  • Biography

  • Rating: 4.15
  • Pages: 608
  • Publish Date: February 1st 1999 by St. Martin's Press
  • Isbn10: 0312199929
  • Isbn13: 9780312199920