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4.6 out of 5 stars
Mandela: The Authorised Biography
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2000
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
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
on 11 October 2000
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
on 6 April 2010
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
on 17 January 2011
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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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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on 27 December 2013
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
on 14 May 2013
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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on 2 August 2013
Wonderful biography on Mandela by the now deceased Anthony Sampson. I bought it mainly for the updated afterword by the accomplished journalist John Battersby. It arrived in mint condition.
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on 10 March 2014
This is an important book but also a big one...so get it on Kindle if you want to save luggage space or room in your bag. it is a long read but a fascinating one,
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