Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Front Cover
Little, Brown, 1994 - Biography & Autobiography - 558 pages
Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. The foster son of a Thembu chief, Mandela was raised in the traditional, tribal culture of his ancestors, but at an early age learned the modern, inescapable reality of what came to be called apartheid, one of the most powerful and effective systems of oppression ever conceived. In classically elegant and engrossing prose, he tells of his early years as an impoverished student and law clerk in Johannesburg, of his slow political awakening, and of his pivotal role in the rebirth of a stagnant ANC and the formation of its Youth League in the 1950s. He describes the struggle to reconcile his political activity with his devotion to his family, the anguished breakup of his first marriage, and the painful separations from his children. He brings vividly to life the escalating political warfare in the fifties between the ANC and the government, culminating in his dramatic escapades as an underground leader and the notorious Rivonia Trial of 1964, at which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Herecounts the surprisingly eventful twenty-seven years in prison and the complex, delicate negotiations that led both to his freedom and to the beginning of the end of apartheid. Finally he provides the ultimate inside account of the unforgettable events since his release that produced at last a free, multiracial democracy in South Africa. To millions of people around the world, Nelson Mandela stands, as no other living figure does, for the triumph of dignity and hope over despair and hatred, of self-discipline and love over persecution and evil.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - HelenGress - www.librarything.com

A long awaited read for me- I enjoyed it very much. I found quite a few of the details about Mandela's imprisonment surprising - due to the fact that I thought I had known his story through media ... Read full review

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User Review  - Pferdina - www.librarything.com

This is a detailed history of Nelson Mandela's struggle to help South Africa overcome apartheid. Strangely, there is not as much about himself as I expected. It is more of a recitation of who did what ... Read full review

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About the author (1994)

Nelson Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918 in Mvezo, South Africa. His teacher later named him Nelson as part of a custom to give all schoolchildren Christian names. He briefly attended University College of Fort Hare but was expelled after taking part in a protest with Oliver Tambo, with whom he later operated the nation's first black law firm. He eventually completed a bachelor's degree through correspondence courses and studied law at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He left without graduating in 1948. Mandela was part of the African National Congress (ANC) and spent many years as a freedom fighter. When the South African government outlawed the ANC after the Sharpeville Massacre, he went underground to form a new military wing of the organization. In 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. Instead of testifying at the trial, he opted to give a speech that was more than four hours long and ended with a defiant statement. While in prison, he received a bachelor's degree in law in absentia from the University of South Africa. In 1990, Mandela was released from prison after 27 years. He served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with former South African President F.W. de Klerk in 1993 for transitioning the nation from a system of racial segregation. After leaving the presidency, Mandela retired from active politics, but continued championing causes such as human rights, world peace and the fight against AIDS. He died on November 5, 2013 at the age of 95.

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