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Mandela: The Authorised Biography Paperback – 18 Aug 2011

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Mandela: The Authorised Biography + Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela + Conversations With Myself
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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; 1st Edition. 1st Impression edition (18 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007437978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007437979
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

In 1975, imprisoned for life on Robben Island, Nelson Mandela covertly wrote his autobiography. After painstaking months the text was smuggled out--and was promptly quashed by the African National Congress. In his later Long Walk to Freedom Mandela politely expresses "surprise" at this. Sampson reveals that Joe Slovo suppressed the book for not giving enough prominence to Communists. This revelation is remarkable--the ANC could have made much mileage from the book at a time of low fortune--yet Sampson does not follow up. There is too often a sense of eggshells lightly walked upon.

Mandela improves as the prisoner's release approaches. Sampson sharply exposes the machinations of those undermining the ANC's struggle. The CIA knew of the Third Force years before the ANC, yet said nothing. Right-wing governments attacked "Mandela the Communist", preferring to promote Inkhata's Buthelezi, at that time secretly and violently colluding with de Klerk's apartheid regime. Against the small-minded figures of Reagan, Thatcher and Kohl it is Mandela who emerges here a giant. South Africa won her freedom through Mandela: his strength of character and willingness to forgive helped push a country into an alternative future, avoiding the racial civil war almost all predicted. Yet he and his kin paid an awful price. Sampson draws a painful, clear picture of a disintegrating family: dislocation from children; the terrible effects of the war on Winnie, and her increasingly erratic, later murderous behaviour; Mandela's own aching loneliness. It is in capturing Madiba, the ultimate public figure, at his most intense and private, that Sampson's Mandela succeeds best. --Chris Woods --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

‘A magisterial, detailed and invaluable account of one of this century’s greatest figures … it is hard to believe that a better biography will ever be written.’ Justin Cartwright, Sunday Telegraph

‘Warmly to be welcomed, not least because it is more substantial and revealing than Mandela’s bestselling autobiography…a great leap forward in our understanding of a man who is both enigmatic and private…Anthony Sampson has carried out his difficult commission with skill and sensitivity’ Independent

‘This will be the last word on Mandela for years to come…it will be hard to improve upon this crowning conclusion to Sampson’s long career as a loving and expert chronicler of South Africa’ Evening Standard

‘Measured, detailed without a moment of tedium, incisive in its perceptions and at times, profoundly moving’ Observer


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
In this book Anthony Sampson has produced a thoroughly detailed account, not just of Mandela's life but of the history of the ANC. Having read "The Long Walk to Freedom", the reservations I had with that book are fully resolved here. Firstly Mandela writes little of the activities of the ANC whilst he was in prison; Sampson has provided an excellent coverage of both life within the prison and the activities without. Secondly, and understandably, Mandela writes little of the accusations against Winnie and the gradual deterioration of her status as a legitimate freedom fighter; Sampson discusses in great detail Winnie's role in the disturbances during the eighties and her lack of remorse as shown in her testemony to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.
Sampson pays great attention to detail, covering each event thoroughly. This has been helped by the large amount of research he has done and the documentation he has been privy to. He has had access to all letters sent and received by the inmates on Robben Island, to the prison reports, to British and American diplomatic correspondance and to intelligence reports within South Africa, Britain and America. He has also interviewed many key figures on all sides.
Finally this book has the advantage of having been written after Nelson Mandela retired as President. As such we are provided with a fine analysis of his years in office, which previous biographies have lacked. Throughout this book Sampson also pays particular attention to discussing the views of the international community, at the time, of the situation in South Africa. This is an excellent book and I would strongly recommend it to anyone.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mark Meynell VINE VOICE on 8 April 2007
Format: Paperback
Sampson first met Mandela in the early days - he saw him as a firebrand who would be a help for the cause, but was perhaps too impetuous and rash to have a lasting impact. Little did he know! But this early acquaintance combined with a deep understanding of South Africa mean that Sampson is able to trace both Mandela's development and his place in the big picture. This is no hagiography and Sampson is not one to gloss over the flaws and mistakes. But having these articulated makes for a much more powerful and credible life story - the man who did more than anyone to prevent a blood-bath and national carnage in 1994 comes across all the more remarkably.

A wonderful and gripping book - probably the best and most authoritative of contemporary biographies that will provide an invaluable resource for generations.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. Weaver on 11 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
This hugely detailed biography is recommended for anyone wanting to know more about Mandela (the icon and politician), the ANC and the political transformation of South Africa. But if you want to know about Mandela the man then you may be just a little disappointed. I suspect though that this will be the definitive biography for many years to come.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Callum Campbell on 6 April 2010
Format: Paperback
I read it while in Cape town and visiting Robben Island and it helped me understand. Sampson is sympathetic but seems to give the full story and continues after Long Walk to Freedom ends. A great book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By grandad on 17 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book and found it very imformative,it does not leave much to the imagination which is a good thing considering it is a biography would recomend it to anyone.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I tried to like this book , it never happened. It is difficult to find much interesting about a man who spent many years behind bars, the life of prisoner is by its very nature unvarying and as such is does not generate much interest. I found myself wondering whether it was the world moving round Mandela rather than the other way round. Indeed I felt that his term in imprisonment was not as fundamental to the change in South Africa as many would suggest. That is not to imply that he did not make a huge sacrifice for freedom, but I am afraid the story did gel with the image of the icon.
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By Steve22 on 27 Dec. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I have just covered the first few chapters of this biography. So far it is a good read. Sampson is a skillful communicator and sets out his material in a colourful, logical and clear manner which keeps the reader interested in the main subject matter, Mandela himself. This is a very comprehensive account of Nelson Mandela's life from early childhood onwards to his release from prison, to his rise to the presidency in S. Africa. Highly recommended.

Now, eventually, I've finished the book. A very interesting read about a very interesting man.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sputnik on 14 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I probably got as much from this book in the last chapter than I did in the many pages before it. The book in the main part preoccupied itself with both a potted history of the (what appears as accidental) politics but also stoking the legend that is Mandela (can't remember reading one challenging quote about him). If you want to read about the man then you may have better luck with his actual autobiography. If you want to understand more of the context then go for it.
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