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Mandela

Mandela

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Written by Anthony SampsonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Anthony Sampson

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 736 pages
  •  
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • On Sale: September 12, 2000
  • Price: $21.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-679-78178-3 (0-679-78178-1)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

The life of Nelson Mandela is one of the most extraordinary epics of the twentieth century. An almost-forgotten prisoner on Robben Island twenty years ago, apparently doomed to a helpless existence as a victim of apartheid, he not only survived but almost single-handedly saved South Africa from potential chaos, to become one of the most widely admired leaders in the world. Mandela's myth is dazzling; in this magnificent biography Anthony Sampson penetrates it to show us the man himself.

Sampson has known Mandela since 1951. He was given Mandela's complete cooperation, including access to twenty-seven years' worth of unpublished correspondence from prison and many other private documents--even the original draft of Mandela's prison autobiography, long thought to be lost. He interviewed virtually every significant living figure associated with Mandela, from childhood schoolmates to Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie, to former president F. W. de Klerk. Mandela himself checked and annotated the manuscript, but Sampson was left free to make his own judgments about the man, which he has done with refreshing candor. The result is wonderfully revealing and objective.

Mandela is filled with new insights and information. We see how prison, which he and his fellow inmates turned into a kind of unofficial university, gradually transformed Mandela from a headstrong activist into a reflective and consummately skilled statesman. We learn how British and American diplomats cold-shouldered him when support was desperately needed, and about the political infighting, sometimes vicious, that went on between anti-apartheid factions. Particularly fascinating is Sampson's narrative of the incredible negotiations leading to Mandela's release from prison and the eventual collapse of the white regime, when his colleagues feared that he was selling out to the government.

At every turn, this book sheds fresh light on the moral dilemmas that Mandela was forced to face again and again in his personal and public lives. In the struggle for freedom for South African blacks, he paid a tragic price, becoming alienated from his wife and remote from his children. Yet he famously retained his humanity, and while Sampson does not conceal Mandela's failings--his stubbornness, his fixed loyalties, his princely manners and detachment--the man who emerges is authentically heroic.

Broadly based, painstakingly researched, elegantly written, Mandela is a fitting complement to Mandela's celebrated autobiography. It will stand as an exemplar of the biographer's art at its most masterly and, even more, as a moving testament to the power of the human spirit in adversity.

Praise from the British press for Mandela: The Authorized Biography

"It is hard to believe that a better biography will ever be written."
--Justin Cartwright, Sunday Telegraph

"No leader can bequeath his country everlasting freedom, but Mandela did bequeath an everlasting lesson. Sampson's story is worthy of that bequest."
--Simon Jenkins, Sunday Times

"This will be the last word on Mandela for years to come . . . Sampson adds much surprising and even startling material . . . This is far more than a deeply informed biography, it becomes a history of South Africa since 1960 . . . It will be hard to improve upon this crowning conclusion to Sampson's long career as a loving and expert chronicler of South Africa."
--J. D. F. Jones, Evening Standard

"Warmly to be welcomed, not least because it is more substantial and revealing than Mandela's best-selling autobiography . . . This  biography is a great leap forward in our understanding of a man who is both enigmatic and private."
--Denis Judd, The Independent