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Knowing Mandela [Kindle Edition]

John Carlin
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

As Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the ensuing years saw the collapse of South Africa's apartheid regime, John Carlin ('one of the great post-apartheid chroniclers' Financial Times) was the South Africa correspondent of London's Independent newspaper. In his acclaimed Playing the Enemy (filmed by Clint Eastwood as Invictus) he told the story of Mandela's role in the Rugby World Cup of 1995, when Mandela's political genius transformed a sporting event into a moment that defined, unforgettably, a new nation.

In his new book, Carlin now offers an illuminating and inspiring personal account of the iconic figure who has come both to define post-apartheid South Africa and to represent the possibility of a moral politics to the world at large.

Knowing Mandela focuses on the years from 1990 to 1995, when Mandela faced his most daunting obstacles and achieved his greatest triumphs; it was the time when the full flower of his genius as a political leader was most vividly on display. Carlin spent those years reporting on Mandela's feats, trials and tribulations and was one of the few foreign journalists in South Africa to cover both his release from prison and his accession to the presidency four years later.

Drawing on conversations with Mandela and interviews with people close to him, Carlin has crafted a remarkable account of a man who is as flawed as he is gifted, neither superman nor saint. Knowing Mandela offers a profound understanding of the man and what has made him the towering moral and political figure of our age.

Product Description


."..wonderful new memoir..."--Huffington Post

About the Author

John Carlin grew up in Argentina and in the UK and spent 1989-95 in South Africa as the Independent's correspondent there. He has also lived in Nicaragua, Mexico and Washington, writing for The Times, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the New York Times, among other papers, and working for the BBC. His previous book, Playing the Enemy, was the basis of the film Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood, which earned Oscar nominations for both Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1518 KB
  • Print Length: 163 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (5 Dec. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #176,250 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A short yet significant eulogy. 26 Dec. 2013
There will be many post-mortems on the character and significance of Nelson Mandela. This short book by the journalist John Carlin is one of the first. At only 144 pages I quite expected a superficial run-through of Mandela's background and career after his release, but in fact the book is powerful, serious and focused.
Carlin was working for the Independent and other periodicals in South Africa just before and immediately after Mandela regained his freedom. He was trusted by Madiba and met him formally and informally several times.
The book does not pretend to be a full biography but instead concentrates on a few key moments which tested Mandela's political skill and grasp of strategy.

Carlin recognises the huge burden carried by Winnie during her husband's years of incarceration. While Mandela was forced into hard physical labour Winnie was regularly abused, humiliated and bullied by the apartheid police state. Her life outside prison was hardly any easier than Mandela's on Robben Island. It should not surprise us that she turned to others for help and comfort. It was a great sadness, but no shock to either party, that their relationship could not be rekindled.

The book is at its most compelling and confident when talking in detail about the political challenges which tested Mandela after his release in February 1990. The ANC was popular but militarily weak, De Klerk could not afford to make too many concessions too fast and Buthelezi's Inkatha movement meant that Mandela could not yet speak for all black South Africans.
There is a popular myth that the transition to black majority rule in South Africa was seamless and peaceful after Mandela was released. Carlin rightly disabuses us of this naivety.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellant! 17 Aug. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Another author another view point but all the time the same end result. The same vision of this great legend of a man. The more I read the more he transcends every human being that has gone before. The man is a saint the like of which will never be seen again, sadly! As I write this after reading the book the wars in various parts of the world I can't help but think ..........if only there was someone like him to guide them then things might work out better than it looks as if they will!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Knowing Mandela: a personal portrait 5 Jan. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Through this book one gets an in-depth and moving picture of this remarkable man. John Carlin writes with clarity and honesty of his journalistic and personal association with Nelson Mandela, which makes one respect the great man even more.
I would recommend the book to anyone who is interested in getting to understand Mandela more intimately.
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