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Nelson Mandela Is One Of The Great Moral And Political Leaders Of Our Time An International Hero Whose Lifelong Dedication To The Fight Against Racial Oppression In South Africa Won Him The Nobel Peace Prize And The Presidency Of His Country Since His Triumphant Release In From Than A Quarter Century Of Imprisonment, Mandela Has Been At The Center Of The Most Compelling And Inspiring Political Drama In The World As President Of The African National Congress And Head Of South Africa S Anti Apartheid Movement, He Was Instrumental In Moving The Nation Toward Multiracial Government And Majority Rule He Is Revered Everywhere As A Vital Force In The Fight For Human Rights And Racial Equality The Foster Son Of A Thembu Chief, Mandela Was Raised In The Traditional, Tribal Culture Of His Ancestors, But At An Early Age Learned The Modern, Inescapable Reality Of What Came To Be Called Apartheid, One Of The Most Powerful And Effective Systems Of Oppression Ever Conceived In Classically Elegant And Engrossing Prose, He Tells Of His Early Years As An Impoverished Student And Law Clerk In A Jewish Firm In Johannesburg, Of His Slow Political Awakening, And Of His Pivotal Role In The Rebirth Of A Stagnant ANC And The Formation Of Its Youth League In The S He Describes The Struggle To Reconcile His Political Activity With His Devotion To His Family, The Anguished Breakup Of His First Marriage, And The Painful Separations From His Children He Brings Vividly To Life The Escalating Political Warfare In The Fifties Between The ANC And The Government, Culminating In His Dramatic Escapades As An Underground Leader And The Notorious Rivonia Trial Of , At Which He Was Sentenced To Life Imprisonment Herecounts The Surprisingly Eventful Twenty Seven Years In Prison And The Complex, Delicate Negotiations That Led Both To His Freedom And To The Beginning Of The End Of Apartheid Finally He Provides The Ultimate Inside Account


10 thoughts on “Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

  1. says:

    As I finally walked through those gates to enter a car on the other side, I felt even at the age of seventy one that my life was beginning anew My ten thousand days of imprisonment were over Nelson Mandela, A Long Walk to Freedom2013, my year of reading biographies, started off with Dr King s and ended with reading Nelson Mandela s A perfect end to the year.Apartheid is something that hit very close to home to me, being a member of the same Bantu people that the racist Afrikaner government believed were on the same level as animals Mandela has always been a hero in my family and I grew up hearing about his life and his struggles to gain freedom for black South Africans I knew about Apartheid before I knew about the American civil rights movement This autobiography is very comprehensive in scope, covering Mandela s childhood, his adulthood, his transformation into a freedom fighter, and his time spent in jail, and finally his inauguration as South Africa s first black president.The history of his African National Congress party was intriguing,and even gripping were the stories of Mandela s days as the Black Pimpernel travelling all around Africa and Europe This was not an easy read Mandela made so many sacrifices, as did his wife and children It really hurt reading about how he, his wife and children were treated, and how it took so long for the world to wake up and send proper help I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for, because of what I thought, because of my conscience A couple of things really stood out to me The first was how colonized our thinking is Black Africans have been told they are inferior and even now they often display that inferiority complex The Afrikaners were fed the same lies and believed that blacks were inferior before witnessing for themselves that that wasn t true Boer party propaganda The second thing that stood out was how this book restored my faith in mankind at times It was fascinating to read about the humanity that arose in the unlikeliest people Mandela was humble and acknowledged all those involved in the freedom struggle About his inauguration, he said, I felt that day, as I have on so many other days, that I was simply the sum of all those African patriots who have gone before me That long and noble line ended and now began again with me I was pained that I was not able to thank them and that they were not able to see what their sacrifices had wrought After reading this book, my respect for Mandela grew even I loved his spirit he refused to be broken, he refused to become bitter and he somehow kept his wit and his sense of humour He was honest about what he learned, about his own prejudices and mistakes.The first time I visited South Africa was in 1995, a year after the democratic elections that officially ended Apartheid The thought crossed my mind that a few years prior my family and I would not have been able to make that trip in such comfort and safety Thank you, Madiba for making this happen.To quote my GR friend Leola, I feel like the world could never be prepared enough to say goodbye to Nelson Mandela.


  2. says:

    At over 700 pages, Nelson Mandela s autobiography might look like a serious commitment Actually though, it doesn t feel like a heavy book at all Like the thinking which informs it, the writing is clear, measured and straightforward, albeit scattered with bits of Harvard English that are presumably down to Mandela s uncredited American ghostwriter, Richard Stengel.I sped through it in under a week, thanks mainly to a couple of long train journeys I m left with a much nuanced view of Mandela and what he stood for, and a much clearer idea of the man behind the symbol.What I found particularly valuable were the insights into how deeply apartheid ingrained racism not just on to the white minority, but on to the attitudes and assumptions throughout the whole of South African society Mandela at one point mentions being struck by the sight of a young beggar girl by the side of the road in a township, and reacting completely differently because she was white While I did not normally give to African beggars, I felt the urge to give this woman money In that moment I realized the tricks that apartheid plays on one, for the everyday travails that afflict Africans are accepted as a matter of course, while my heart immediately went out to this bedraggled white woman In South Africa, to be poor and black was normal, to be poor and white was a tragedy.A few years and several hundred pages later, he has the corollary experience while taking a clandestine flight in Ethiopia.As I was boarding the plane I saw that the pilot was black I had never seen a black pilot before, and the instant I did I had to quell my panic How could a black man fly a plane But a moment later I caught myself I had fallen into the apartheid mind set, thinking Africans were inferior and that flying was a white man s job.If the leaders of the resistance movement can react like this How could a black man fly a plane the reactions of less committed or thoughtful South Africans can readily be imagined, and you begin to get a sense of the sheer scale of the problem which faced the ANC and other activists A problem which has not entirely gone away.These are the well chosen memories of someone interested in their own thoughts and responses, and who had the time so much of it to examine his life and sift out the experiences that counted Everywhere in the book, there is this sense of a man who has thought long and hard about the choices he made, and can explain them simply and directly.Not all of them are necessarily easy to sympathise with, or at least they perhaps shouldn t be Let s be clear Mandela is not Ghandi We should remember and he is admirably open about it that Amnesty International always declined to work on Mandela s behalf because he refused to renounce violence as a valid tool in the fight against apartheid He was the first head of the ANC s militant wing, the MK, and involved in paramilitary training he drew up plans for action that ran from sabotage to guerrilla warfare At one point, he describes his 1950s self as a young man who attempted to make up for his ignorance with militancy but actually, that militancy never goes away, it just becomes grounded in political and moral justifications Mandela s ethical sensibility is always there but ethics are not paramount.For me, non violence was not a moral principle but a strategy there is no moral goodness in using an ineffective weapon.Effective weapons were considered to include explosives, as demonstrated for example in the Church Street bombing of 1983 which killed 19 people and wounded over 200, including many civilians Mandela mentions it in passing, and has the following to say.The killing of civilians was a tragic accident, and I felt a profound horror at the death toll But disturbed as I was by these casualties, I knew that such accidents were the inevitable consequence of the decision to embark on a military struggle Human fallibility is always a part of war, and the price of it is always high It was precisely because we knew that such incidents would occur that our decision to take up arms had been so grave and reluctant But as Oliver said at the time of the bombing, the armed struggle was imposed upon us by the violence of the apartheid regime.We are on dangerous ground here Can we put a number on how many civilian deaths are considered a reasonable price to pay for ending apartheid At the same time, though, who on earth am I to question his decisions and moral code I who have never experienced a fraction of the abuse and discrimination which was his daily life, and who am never likely to have to make the impossible choices that were so common under apartheid All I can say is Mandela doesn t shy away from it I may not always be comfortable about it, but I felt a deep respect for his willingness to stand behind his actions and explain them as best he can.Ultimately, Mandela was saved from being a truly ambiguous figure by the simple fact that he was arrested and imprisoned before he could be directly involved in any violence himself for him, it s all theoretical, and, locked away behind bars, he could be viewed simply as an innocent martyr to a just cause And indeed, it s in his response to the years of incarceration that the greatness of Mandela s character comes through Twenty seven years in jail would be enough to make any man bitter but he is the opposite of bitter Time and again he shows himself willing to listen to and work with those who might easily be called his enemies from dissenting black activists, through ambivalent prison warders, up to the president of South Africa.It s his astonishing ability to do without bitterness essentially, his capacity for forgiveness which really makes Mandela an inspiration Perhaps it s my na vet , but I can t help concluding that, when international pressure got too much for South Africa s government, it was Mandela s openness in negotiations which forged the breakthrough and not the MK s sporadic attempts to meet violence with violence That s certainly what I ll take away from this excellent and fascinating memoir that, and a delight in his unshakable belief that no matter how degrading the conditions, or how long the imprisonment, no one had the power to damage who he was on the inside Prison and the authorities conspire to rob each man of his dignity In and of itself, that assured that I would survive, for any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose because I will not part with it at any price or under any pressure.


  3. says:

    As I continue the forty days of biography reading, I thought I ought to tackle some of the big players in the world of politics At a time when the world is still ill balanced, I wanted to delve into the world of Nelson Mandela, one who sought to recalibrate a significant unbalance on the African continent over a number of decades Having a great interest in South Africa, the backwardness of apartheid s acceptance by any governing body, and how the world handled the bloodshed under the racist regime there, I felt this would be a wonderful starting point I have read much historical fiction about the country and the struggles, but it is high time we look to facts and figures There will be those who oppose me reading this autobiography for propaganda reasons and they have already reared their heads and I welcome their sentiments, though the sub set who are supremacists and bully views for the sake of racism belong in the weed choked fields of knowledge from whence they came And yes, they have come out to write to me as well Born in 1918 with the birth name Rolihlahla , Xhosa for pulling the branch of a tree , Mandela lived his early years in a small village far from the bustling cities of Cape Town or Johannesburg Living in the traditional way of Africans, the village shared resources and means of survival, which might have fostered his views that found him in hot water decades later Seeing much potential in their son, Mandela s parents allowed the Church to play a strong role in his upbringing and education, which led him to find a passion for the law Mandela explains early on in this autobiography that his desire to advocate for others became a foundation of the way he lived his life Eventually pulled into the larger city, Mandela worked in a law firm in Johannesburg, though failed to pass some of the essential academic examinations to earn an LLB However, Mandela found a strong desire to help his fellow African with issues that arose and worked within the limits before him to ensure that all South Africans shared the same opportunities South Africa was in the midst of a transformation, still part of the British Commonwealth but run primarily by the Afrikaner white minority, who ruled in an off balance manner that sought to use the minority sentiments to shape the laws for all With the exclusion of the black African please allow me at this time to offer apologies for anyone who takes offence to the word black , for I am simply using the term Mandela presented throughout, which differentiates between the white minority and the unrepresented majority population, Mandela began to meet with other like minded men and sought to join the political movement of the African National Congress ANC , whose long standing support of black equality fit nicely with the views he espoused Mandela used this passion to fuel his mantra as he sought to push back against the views of the South African Government Mandela did find time to marry, choosing Evelyn Nkoto Mase, who bore him his first set of children Mandela explores the life of an anti colonist and the role the ANC played in his early life By this time, the South African government brought in apartheid, an approach to racial divide the country and benefit the whites Mandela would not stand for this and spoke out whenever he could to counter the racist governmental policies The strains between Mandela and Evelyn led to a disintegration of that marriage and Mandela was forced to come to terms with it while he wrestled for black equality Not long single, Mandela met and married Winnie Madikizela, sure they would be together after their first date Things ramped up and Mandela was soon persona non grata in the country, hiding from the authorities in order to protect himself Mandela tells of his secret trips to other parts of Africa to meet with other black leaders who were also trying to toss the shackles of oppression from their peoples And yet, the world stood by and watched as the politics of South Africa became troublesome The ANC ramped up its views and Mandela became a strong figurehead, eventually brought to trial for High Treason after espousing views of wanting to overthrow the government Mandela makes clear that there was no way to follow a peaceful solution against the Government, though he may have wanted to parallel Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr However, targeted violence would not include the regular citizen and assassination was never promoted or condoned Sentenced to life in prison after the judge chose not to impose the death penalty, Mandela began his twenty seven years behind bars on Robben Island, an isolated prison facility A resident of the Robben Island prison Mandela speaks frankly about his incarceration and the treatment he received While the meals were poor and the sanitary conditions less than ideal, I expected severe beatings and horrendous treatment at the hands of guards and wardens to pepper the narrative However, Mandela was seen as an advocate for his fellow prisoners and earned the respect of the white prison hierarchy, to the point that he was given special treatment when presenting concerns to the prison authorities His imprisonment became a political soapbox and many people from all corners of the world came to see him and listen to his views, though nothing changed While the outside world continued to speak out against apartheid and issued sanctions, politics within the country sought to strengthen the racially divisive movement under a number of leaders, culminating in P.W Botha, perhaps its most ruthless Afrikaner leader However, as Mandela presents in the latter portion of the narrative, Botha readily met with Mandela and heard his complaints Mandela continued to espouse equality and fought against apartheid, though Botha gave only lip service to these concerns As the world began to shift toward the end of the 1980s, South Africa s apartheid views seemed to dissipate when Botha stepped down and F.W de Klerk became prime minister Under de Klerk, Mandela s sentence came to an end and he was able to leave Robben Island, completing the long and sordid walk to freedom Mandela is able to use the last dozen or so chapters to speak of this freedom and the changes that came to pass, though there was surely many hurdles to overcome and much reconciliation that needed to take place Mandela advocated for free and open elections, even while de Klerk sought an outright veto over any legislation for the Afrikaners Push came to shove and the racial divide led to murders, increased resentment, and added pressure on Mandela and the ANC to prove that they could act within political means and not turn to guns Mandela speaks frankly, though never stops pushing for talk over bullet to solve the issue By the time the first open national election came to pass in 1994, Mandela was able to rise to the role of President of the South African Republic, the ultimate gift after decades of oppression Some who saw that I was reading this jumped immediately onto Mandela s being a communist as though that were a poisoned moniker and a terrorist Both of these sentiments are true in their textbook form, though the flavour in which they were presented makes them seem horrid and worthy of vilification To those people, who prefer to talk of peaceful whites and raping blacks I kid you not , I can only offer pity as they allow ignorance to ferment inside their minds It also shows that they have no interest in engaging in an intellectual conversation on Mandela or the apartheid era in South Africa Mandela s upbringing was very much one of social equality for all and his interest in Marxist views fuelled a passion to see equality for every man, woman, and child within South Africa, irregardless of the colour of their skin or background His terrorist leanings were borne out of a need to bring about needed change I neither condemn or condone these actions, but I do see some rationale, as Mandela spoke of wanting to emulate Gandhi s protest in India However, while the British were a sensible people with a democratic political system that permitted all to vote, South Africa would never allow blacks to have a political voice, thereby keeping them from ever bringing about change in a parliamentary means Mandela spoke of two Americans coming to see him in prison, pushing the idea of Martin Luther King s triumphs in America without ever needing to promote violence Again, Mandela spoke of how the US Constitution entrenched equal rights within the document and King was only trying to promote these sentiments in the racist south So, while he was a terrorist in the textbook sense, one might wonder if it was for a good cause Of course, that will not quell the views of those who are cemented into a hatred that could include burning crosses or half truths, but then again, some people s ignorance comes from indoctrination and a refusal to expand their knowledge Mandela s crisp delivery is refreshing, especially as he speaks to frankly about these issues I was drawn into the chapters and found myself begging for information, even though I was already drowning in all the narrative had to offer Mandela does not try to make himself look like a martyr or saint, but does not shy away from the evils he felt were developing around him His love of self, family, and the larger South African state appears throughout While this was an autobiography, it is balanced and can be called a realistic account, though I would be remiss if I took it as gospel Mandela pulls no punches, while remaining above the fray and not getting himself stuck in the racial mud slinging that one might expect from someone who was oppressed for so long He could have penned a powerful piece, highly critical of the government and scathing in its presentation, but by keeping things balanced and free from poisonous rhetoric, the reader is likely to find pieces they support The attentive reader will learn how Mandela devised early drafts of this piece and find themselves impressed with his ability to recollect so much Far from succinct, but laid out perfectly to see the slow development of Mandela s struggles, the reader will surely appreciate the attention to detail and powerful arguments that pepper this piece from beginning to end Kudos seem to be too small an honour to bestow upon you, Mr Mandela I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and while others may criticise me for even considering it, I am happy I took the time to learn about these struggles within South Africa.I would encourage anyone who knows of a good book that tells the opposite side of the argument to send me a recommendation All I ask is that it is well sourced and a grounded piece that does not spiral into hate speech I am eager to see apartheid and the white struggle within South Africa, should it exist.Like hate the review An ever growing collection of others appears at


  4. says:

    If you are not a prolific reader, the size and weight of this volume may look daunting After reading the first two or three chapters, you will be tempted to give up DON T It s just about to get really good.This autobiography chronicles Mandela s life, first as the son of a tribal chief, then as an educated Black man under Apartheid a dangerous thing to be and then the journey, both outward and inward, from attorney to the leader of a revolution You will read about his time on Riecher s Island, the notorious prison, and the various experiences he had in the courtroom and in captivity He tells of the cunning ways those who were jailed for political reasons created to communicate and to an extent, continue to lead from inside prison And he breaks up the horror with an occasional vignette of a surprisingly kindly jailor or other authority figure who does small, decent things when no one is looking.If you are interested in the history of South Africa and the defeat of Apartheid, this is a must read If you ever, as I did, had a Free Nelson Mandela poster in your living roomread this, and celebrate.


  5. says:

    A long way to freedom, courageously traveled by many men and women, to free themselves from the White oppressor, to regain human dignity, the pride of being Black At first peaceful, they are forced to take up arms, to respond to the violence that faces them furiously Neither the courts nor the prison can break this quest for equity, democracy and freedom.Then it will be non vengeance to take the path of negotiations, to annihilate hatred by words of peace.A wonderful and moving testimony.A timeless and universal hope message that upsets us No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his past, or his religion People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can also be taught to love, for love is born naturally in the heart of man than its opposite.I am not really free if I deprive someone else of his freedom The oppressed and the oppressor are both dispossessed of their humanity


  6. says:

    Long Walk to Freedom The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom 1 2 , Nelson MandelaLong Walk to Freedom is an autobiography written by South African President Nelson Mandela, and first published in 1994 by Little Brown Co The book profiles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison Under the apartheid government, Mandela was regarded as a terrorist and jailed on the infamous Robben Island He later achieved international recognition for his leadership as president in rebuilding the country s once segregated society The last chapters of the book describe his political ascension, and his belief that the struggle still continued against apartheid in South Africa 1995 1374 804 23 9644233263 1379 1383 1387 9789644233265 1390 1392 1395 1397 20 1392 168 9789643137250 1918 1944 1948 1962 1962 1963 1964 1982 27 1990


  7. says:

    I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise Nelson Mandela turned 95 last week Twenty years previously, he had already become a symbol of hope, of peace, and the fight for justice in the world The myths which develop around politicians are largely exaggerated, but Mandela is one of the rare exceptions where the praise is largely justified.I admit I knew very little about the man, or even his legend, so I went right to the source This was a good decision Mandela is honest about his motives and his life He writes with detail and some pride in his work, but is also candid about his mistakes, his youthful misadventures, and his strained family life.The book starts with Mandela s youth, upbringing, and education His stories about this life are fascinating, and his transition to a university life is not without trouble For example, he talks about his embarrassment at using cutlery and wearing boots.The bulk of the middle section of the book is about his efforts for justice against the racist systems of South Africa When the radical Nationalist Party took over, his party was forced underground, and thus he made the decision to begin sabotage and limited rebellion against the state These sections are riveting, and Mandela has many stories about false names, and getaways from the police Despite this decision to use violence, his human feelings were still evident He felt pangs of guilt after killing birds as target practice.After his sudden arrest and sensational trial, the next long stretch of the book covers his imprisonment on Robbins Island and Pollsmoor Prison Here, he continues the struggle by working with the other political prisoners, educating the guards, and trying to keep himself sane in the years between visits from his wife He does not touch his wife s hand for over twenty years.The secret talks began in the mid 70s with the Botha government The talks are polite, but they make little progress With de Klerk, however, here was a man we could do business with Apartheid crumbles, and Mandela achieves personal freedom on his own terms, and thrusts himself back into political life The book ends with his inauguration in 1994.So what will be remembered as the man s legacy Frankly, there is a lot The first is that apartheid was dismantled peacefully, and the underground ANC was transformed into a political party with minimal strain Despite the white minority s fears that there would be armed rebellion and race war, South Africa has not fallen into that cycle Mandela would be the first to admit that South Africa s fight is not finished, that there are still problems of crime, income inequality, and the looming threats of disease, but he is able to create a unifying democratic government which is capable of handling them Now the majority the people can choose.The book is decently long for an autobiography, but it reads fairly quickly Mandela s narrative voice quiet, reflective, and witty, but also bears the mark of an immense inner strength He exhibits extraordinary patience and forgiveness, even of the Afrikaners and the prison guards South Africa continues its long walk to freedom His is but the first stride forward, and a model not only for a nation, not only for the African continent, but for the world Time and again, I have seen men and women risk and give their lives for an idea I have seen men stand up to attacks and torture without breaking, showing a strength and resiliency that defies the imagination I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it I felt fear myself times than I can remember, but I hid it behind a mask of boldness The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear


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  10. says:

    First of all let me say that Nelson Mandela is an amazing man who has been through trials than I could ever imagine, and he faced them with such class and strength I am glad I know about his history and his life as a freedom fighter, and this book gave me greater appreciation for black South Africans However, it was a long, long, long, long walk to freedom I guess I like books that are written in story form, which shows some lack of intelligence on my part, unfortunately It took me about 11 months to read this book, and I would have given up, except for the fact that it would make me crazy to start a book and not finish it especially because I wanted to learn about apartheid.