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Knowing Mandela
Cover of Knowing Mandela
Knowing Mandela
A Personal Portrait
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Equal parts freedom fighter and statesman, Nelson Mandela bestrode the world stage for the past three decades, building a legacy that places him in the pantheon of history's most exemplary leaders.

As a foreign correspondent based in South Africa, author John Carlin had unique access to Mandela during the post-apartheid years when Mandela faced his most daunting obstacles and achieved his greatest triumphs. Carlin witnessed history as Mandela was released from prison after twenty-seven years and ultimately ascended to the presidency of his strife-torn country.

Drawing on exclusive conversations with Mandela and countless interviews with people who were close to him, Carlin has crafted an account of a man who was neither saint nor superman. Mandela's seismic political victories were won at the cost of much personal unhappiness and disappointment.

Knowing Mandela offers an intimate understanding of one of the most towering and remarkable figures of our age.

Equal parts freedom fighter and statesman, Nelson Mandela bestrode the world stage for the past three decades, building a legacy that places him in the pantheon of history's most exemplary leaders.

As a foreign correspondent based in South Africa, author John Carlin had unique access to Mandela during the post-apartheid years when Mandela faced his most daunting obstacles and achieved his greatest triumphs. Carlin witnessed history as Mandela was released from prison after twenty-seven years and ultimately ascended to the presidency of his strife-torn country.

Drawing on exclusive conversations with Mandela and countless interviews with people who were close to him, Carlin has crafted an account of a man who was neither saint nor superman. Mandela's seismic political victories were won at the cost of much personal unhappiness and disappointment.

Knowing Mandela offers an intimate understanding of one of the most towering and remarkable figures of our age.

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  • Lexile:
    1230
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    9 - 12

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About the Author-
  • John Carlin is an acclaimed journalist and author who was the Independent's South Africa correspondent from 1989 to 1995. He has also written for the Times, the Observer, the Sunday Times, and the New York Times, among other publications. His previous books include Knowing Mandela and Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, which is the basis for the film Invictus.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 23, 2013
    Journalist Carlin's (Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation) thoughtful blend of biography and personal encounters with the South African leader during a tumultuous historical period reveals a majestic human being as he builds his legacy as the world leader we know him today. Mandela's unfailing courtesy to everyone quickly eroded Carlin's cynicism, developed over 30 years of covering dictators. In an attempt to determine if Mandela's graciousness was innate or calculated, Carlin followed Mandela for the five years of his presidency and interviewed countless individuals who knew him in many capacities at the height of his power. What emerges is a portrait of a man well deserving of the admiration of his followers but whose political triumphs were "won at the cost of unhappiness, loneliness and disappointment," not the least of which was his inability to "reconcile political and family life." Carlin's interviews with Mandela's guard during his imprisonment, with his secretary, his valet and the elderly widow of one of apartheid's founding fathers all reveal a man who offered ordinary respect to everyone. A telling note was his friendship with Queen Elizabeth, so strong he called her by her first name. Carlin's journalistic skills and his effort to be objective present a lively picture of a personally disciplined man of great kindness as well as a clear view of the vast challenges facing South Africa. Agent: Anne Edelstein, Anne Edelstein Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    December 1, 2013
    Anecdotal, intimate remembrance of the South African leader by a journalist who grew to love him. As the South African correspondent for the London Independent during the key years between the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990 and his election as president of South Africa in 1994, Carlin (Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, 2008) offers a thoughtful tribute to this unparalleled leader within the frame of his leadership legacy. The author looks at the various tactics Mandela used to bring about a nearly miraculous transition from apartheid to all-inclusive democracy in South Africa. His 27-year imprisonment had softened the edges of the African National Congress leader, who had served as head of the group's armed wing. He was condemned in his 1964 trial for taking up arms against the state; in prison at Robben Island and elsewhere, Mandela had turned his unimaginable suffering into a sense of duty, gravitas and forgiveness, even of his enemies. In prison, his natural graciousness won over even his white guards, and he began to study Afrikaans in an attempt to understand the Afrikaner and his history. Mandela's ability to take the long view, as Carlin delineates, allowed him to see beyond calls for vengeance after violence broke out within black townships, instigated by the rival Inkatha group or after the assassination of ANC leader Chris Hani by a white man in 1993. Mandela's magnanimity disarmed both blacks and whites, and his incredible stature as a much-needed peacemaker largely kept his estranged wife from being prosecuted for the violence and murderous actions she had encouraged in her bodyguards. Carlin zeroes in on Mandela's dignified capacity to allow all people, despite their backgrounds, to change and evolve for the good. A brief but moving look at the rare qualities of an effective, good-hearted leader.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus Reviews "...an intimate remembrance by a journalist who grew to love him...Carlin offers a thoughtful tribute to this unparalleled leader."
  • Examiner.com "[A] short, eloquent portrait...Carlin's skill as a journalist is expertly applied and the result is a concise but thorough look at both the flaws and triumphs of one of the world's most renowned leaders."
  • Publishers Weekly "...thoughtful blend of biography and personal encounters...Carlin's journalistic skills and his effort to be objective present a lively picture of a personally disciplined man of great kindness as well as a clear view of the vast challenges facing South Africa."
  • Huffington Post "...wonderful new memoir..."
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A Personal Portrait
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