on 20 January 2011
This book in some ways is not what its title suggests
Yes they are Mr Mandela's words, but he DID NOT have anything to do with the book. When asked to help put the book together, he declined.
What we get is a collection of diary extracts, letters, conversations that is apparently based around themes, but in the most part are disjointed and some extracts used more than once. If the extracts were given in chronological order and proper footnotes given (not Nurse X was a nurse! - this is a footnote in the book)then it may help the reader follow it.
This is a useful resourse, where the index would be used to look at particular items, but as for reading it from front to back - it was hard work.
If you do not have a strong understanding about Mr Mandela's life, this is NOT the book to start with - read Long Walk to Freedom before attempting this book.
on 26 November 2010
I think that Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest leaders and humanatarians of our time. This book is exceptionally excellent, because it was compiled when he was serving his time on Robben Island. It is also a very personal look at his thoughts. He talks about numerous issue's with regard to his family his Mother and his wife Winnie.
The Long Walk to Freedom in Mr Mandela's words was really a collective of the people he served time with all of their trials and tribulations. This book is more about him and his thoughts not as a collective.
Again an awesome read from a great person............
Nelson Mandela has always been one of my heroes and his autobiographical Long Walk to Freedom is one of the most compelling and inspiring books I have ever read, a volume I frequently return to. Therefore, it gives me little pleasure to report that this new book is a great disappointment. The prospect of reading the thoughts of the 'private' Mandela is indeed an exciting one, but these extracts from his conversations with friends, notebooks and random jottings have little new to say. A large part of the problem lies in the editing-although the book is organized thematically insufficient detail is offered on the historical context and despite the biographical chapter at the end many personalities are mentioned without explanation. Then again, many of the entries are undated and it is often not clear whether Mandela is referring to people before or after they died or looking back on contemporary or historical events. Most damningly of all, it has to be said that many of these entries would never have never come close to publication had they not been penned by Mandela-they are no more than lists or scribbles with little value outside of their context. Of course there are insights not least into the depth of Mandela's advocacy of armed struggle when no alternative exists or in his stubborn refusal to discuss details of his private life. That said the most powerful entries are those which show the depths of his loneliness on Robben Island where his desperation breaks through his words.
What is also clear from this volume is just how carefully controlled all of Mandela's public utterances are and I would suggest this book is no exception. Mandela place in history is secure, but reading this volume is not the place to discover why.
on 20 November 2011
my first impression is that this book is to be read in conjunction with his autobiography 'long walk to freedom' which I have not yet read, the book is often mentioned - this fact however did not stop me from understanding or enjoying the book in question.
"Conversations with myself" seems to be a collection of bits and pieces scattered along not always in chronological order, letters and events do not seem to follow any order at all, it jumps a lot, for example at the end of Chapter 6 it follows events in 1962 only to jump to the 80s in Chapter 7, in chapter 9 letters are firstly dated 1970, 1976, 1980
only to come back to 1979 at the very end.
let's have a look at the technical side of this audio book:
I would have separated the tracks differently, for example I would have given each letter and each session of conversation its own individual track don't matter how short.
I understand the reader is Southafrican, even though I had to get used to his accent and do not find it 100% easy.
this audio book features always the same reader which does not really make sense especially in the conversations sessions, one does not always understand who is the interviewer and who is Mandela, where does the questions and comments start and where are his answers? one does not understand who is saying what.
sometimes he stammers in a conversational way (although I suspect he is litterary copying Mandela's answers).
at the beginning there is music and music is also used at the end of every chapter to mark the end of each chapter and this is great but when the music starts the reader has not yet finished the sentence, the music is so loud that it is not easy to hear the end of the sentence - basically they should have in my opinion either inserted the music after the sentence is finished or if they wanted to mix the reader with the music I would have put the music at a lower volume to put the listener in the position to understand what has been read. as it is now one cannot hear the end of the sentence because the music is too loud.
on a technicality being a professional reader myself, I noticed that although the reader does his best he probably has not been trained to swallow the saliva in the mouth before starting to read, to me it's a bit irritating as I listen to words with the letter c and k like can and speaker: not everyone notices these things but I do!!!!
it's better when one swallows the moisture in the mouth especially before pronouncing words with c and k because the reading is smoother and cleaner.
the extremely interesting thing is that in the last CD this audio book contains extracts from original interviews where Nelson Mandela himself is talking, it's nothing new to what one has listened to so far but at least it's him talking although the quality is not always great.
the book does not seem to be particularly revealing about the private man, he is declining all questions about his ex-wife or should I say ex-wives? I understand he wants to keep certain things private but I don't agree with people who say this book is particularly revealing, but then again I have not read his autobiography perhaps 'along walk to freedom' is even less revealing so that one can define this book as revealing about himself?
Overall this is a great book but in my opinion it could have been better edited and organized.
on 21 December 2011
I recommend this book for whoever wants to know the details hidden behind very successful people. In the book, there are lots of lessons we learn which we couldn't find anywhere else. Conversations with myself is a book that brings the deep thoughts of the man when he was walking in the dark tunnel and when there is no one to help. Great job!.
on 1 January 2011
The latest and probably last book written or at least designed by Nelson Mandela himself. It is a trip back into our past because he is our past. As far as I remember Nelson Mandela was standing there as the "eternal" prisoner of South Africa. We signed petitions, we demonstrated, we read poems demanding his liberation, we took part in exhibitions to express our solidarity. And one day he was free and he has remained, even when he was the President of South Africa, or when we can see him in a film, documentary or fiction, that symbol of the eternal prisoner who will always stand for the want, lack and need, of liberation, for everyone everywhere to be liberated and free.
But this book goes so far beyond this simple recollection of ours. It depicts a full panorama of his life, his thoughts, and his feelings. Small details, small events, small fights, small victories that build a full story, a myth even, a dream of a future that has the deepest roots in the past. We feel his fears and his joys, his frustrations and his satisfactions when something is refused to him, when something is retained from him, when something is granted to him, even if with some grumbling and resentment. Life is a long series of small events and the magnitude of some is not in the events themselves but in the symbolical value they take in the minds and the eyes of the people who witness the events.
And Nelson Mandela is so true to life, so naïve too. When he meets Eskimos for the first time and confronts his preconceived idea of Eskimos as uneducated people living in the frozen wild and hunting polar bears with the reality of late teenagers going to school and adults who are holding important positions in society, he retains his slightly biased surprise at a reality he could not imagine before and astonishes him still. It is simple situations like that one which make the book warm and human. When he is the "victim" of autograph hunters in London he yields because they waited a whole day for him and he had promised on his honor, a promise which they remind him of.
And he enjoys these small facts, events, circumstances. That enjoyment is so visible and palpable in all the pages that we just wonder how he has been able to retain such ability to rejoice in simple facts after so many years spent in prison and at times in the worst imaginable conditions. But he does and that is the myth. Some other books, some films show him doing some ancillary simple tasks like serving tea to his guest, though he is the president of South Africa, just out of respect for that guest of his from whom he is going to ask a favor.
That tone and atmosphere in the whole book transforms it into a story that we follow page after page, five or ten pages at a time, enjoying our making it last as long as we can, stretching the pleasure over several weeks. It is a rare book for me since it forced me to go slow, read slow, enjoy the pages and the sweet South African "idiosyncrasies" of his language and the corrections that are brought to the text here and there. I just invested this book in a long period of reading instead of just running from cover to cover. And it is my main everyday task to read books and read them fast. But this one has to be read in small installments to feel its matter penetrate our minds and feel relaxed and pleasured by the simple words and the simple feelings of a man who has been the greatest inspirer of this world for at least forty years.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
on 20 September 2013
Being a big fan of Nelson Mandela (Who isn't?), and having thoroughly enjoyed Long Walk to Freedom, I though that I would devour this book with relish. However, the format is unusual, and it was not written by Mandela, rather it is a compilation of conversations/letters/writings put together by someone else. I did not find it as enthralling as I had hoped. It has some meirt, but ultimately I was disappointed.