Conversations with Myself

Nelson Mandela, Author
Nelson Mandela, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-374-12895-1
Reviewed on: 10/11/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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The South African statesman and former political prisoner bares his mind and soul in this inspiring collection of writings and interviews. Culled from Mandela's letters, notebooks, taped conversations, prison diaries, calendars, and an unfinished autobiography, the material includes reminiscences of the antiapartheid movement, lessons in revolutionary theory gleaned from his guerrilla training, vignettes of prison life, seething protests to authorities, tender missives to loved ones, canny political strategizing and quiet philosophical reflections. The entries recall moments of high drama, days of dreary routine and interludes of random strangeness, including a prison screening of Revenge of the Nerds. Mandela registers his anger at the humiliations and hardships imposed on him by apartheid, and his anguish over his long separation from his family (officials even denied his requests to attend his mother's and son's funerals). But what comes through most strongly is his steadfast resolve—"the knowledge that in your day you did your duty and lived up to the expectations of your fellow man is in itself a reward"—and a shrewd, ebullient humanity that finds and embraces the good even in his prison guards. The result is a moving account of Mandela's struggle and a testament to his triumph. Photos. (Oct.)
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