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A gripping account of S. Africa's history and Mandela's life
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.