on 18 January 2015
I finihed this earlier this morning and I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about one of the 20th Century's most important and inspirational political figures. Although this is a long read it is thoroughly worthwhile, and I did not find myself bored even for a second. It really is riveting, from its depiction of South Africa's repressive apartheid system, the tales of a rural African childhood (which may now be thoroughly different due to the march of modernity worldwide), the political and, later, armed struggle, and of course the many long years of imprisonment throughout many of South Africa's most notorious prisons.
This book is really well-balanced, and Mandela writes passionately about the situations that arose throughout his life. He does not attempt to claim fame for the success of the ANC, and rather informs the reader of all the hard work that went into the organisation prior to his involvement, and subsequently to his long imprisonment, when he had little or no input into the party whilst of ther leaders lived a life of exile.
It is the stories that make this a really intruiging read, in my opinion. The wider contect of the book is what makes it important, but Mandela's ability to tell detailed stories of his upbringing, his early life in Johannesburg as part of a thriving law firm, life within different prisons and his travels (both in secret and after his release) give this book an unrivalled level of detail, and contribute to making it a terrific, as well as highly informative, read.
I highly recommend this book; I warn the reader that it is a lengthy investment of time, but one that I believe is well worth making.
Overall I found this book to be an excellent insight into the life of Nelson Mandela. Through it's pages you learn more about the man who became the first black President of South Africa. You also discover the forces which shaped him and made him the man he is. It takes you from his early years in Africa and how his early upbringing and development helped to develop his character. Whatever happens in his life he rises above it and moves forward. It is obvious that Nelson Mandela was a remarkable man, powerful, and yet humble and staying true to his African roots. His faith in God is obvious but the book does not focus on this so it does not overwhelm. This book is at times emotional but at the same time inspirational. It demonstrates the courage of one man to rise above his circumstances.
This book is so much more than an insight into Mandela's life, it is also an in depth overview of life in South Africa from the early 20th century to the turn of the 21st Century. It covers a period in history which cannot, and should not be repeated. It demonstrates the struggles that Black South Africans went through to get to be the nation they are today.
If I enjoyed the book so much why have I given it 4 instead of 5 stars. This is a very long book as it goes into a great deal of detail and description. Whilst this is necessary to set situations and decisions into context, at times it went on for too long. This book could have been a couple of hundred pages shorter without losing any of the flavour of the book. This amy put some people of and they may not complete the book. Other than this it is a book which I would highly recommend.