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At over 700 pages, Nelson Mandela s autobiography might look like a serious commitment Actually though, it doesn t feel like a heavy book at all Like the thinking which informs it, the writing is clear, measured and straightforward, albeit scattered with bits of Harvard English that are presumably down to Mandela s uncredited American ghostwriter, Richard Stengel.I sped through it in under a week, thanks mainly to a couple of long train journeys I m left with a muchnuanced view of Man At over 700 pages, Nelson Mandela s autobiography might look like a serious commitment Actually though, it doesn t feel like a heavy book at all Like the thinking which informs it, the writing is clear, measured and straightforward, albeit scattered with bits of Harvard English that are presumably down to Mandela s uncredited American ghostwriter, Richard Stengel.I sped through it in under a week, thanks mainly to a couple of long train journeys I m left with a muchnuanced view of Mandela and what he stood for, and a much clearer idea of the man behind the symbol.What I found particularly valuable were the insights into how deeply apartheid ingrained racism not just on to the white minority, but on to the attitudes and assumptions throughout the whole of South African society Mandela at one point mentions being struck by the sight of a young beggar girl by the side of the road in a township, and reacting completely differently because she was white While I did not normally give to African beggars, I felt the urge to give this woman money In that moment I realized the tricks that apartheid plays on one, for the everyday travails that afflict Africans are accepted as a matter of course, while my heart immediately went out to this bedraggled white woman In South Africa, to be poor and black was normal, to be poor and white was a tragedy.A few years and several hundred pages later, he has the corollary experience while taking a clandestine flight in Ethiopia.As I was boarding the plane I saw that the pilot was black I had never seen a black pilot before, and the instant I did I had to quell my panic How could a black man fly a plane But a moment later I caught myself I had fallen into the apartheid mind set, thinking Africans were inferior and that flying was a white man s job.If the leaders of the resistance movement can react like this How could a black man fly a planethe reactions of less committed or thoughtful South Africans can readily be imagined, and you begin to get a sense of the sheer scale of the problem which faced the ANC and other activists A problem which has not entirely gone away.These are the well chosen memories of someone interested in their own thoughts and responses, and who had the time so much of it to examine his life and sift out the experiences that counted Everywhere in the book, there is this sense of a man who has thought long and hard about the choices he made, and can explain them simply and directly.Not all of them are necessarily easy to sympathise with, or at least they perhaps shouldn t be Let s be clear Mandela is not Ghandi We should remember and he is admirably open about it that Amnesty International always declined to work on Mandela s behalf because he refused to renounce violence as a valid tool in the fight against apartheid He was the first head of the ANC s militant wing, the MK, and involved in paramilitary training he drew up plans for action that ran from sabotage to guerrilla warfare At one point, he describes his 1950s self as a young man who attempted to make up for his ignorance with militancy but actually, that militancy never goes away, it just becomesgrounded in political and moral justifications Mandela s ethical sensibility is always there but ethics are not paramount.For me, non violence was not a moral principle but a strategy there is no moral goodness in using an ineffective weapon.Effective weapons were considered to include explosives, as demonstrated for example in the Church Street bombing of 1983 which killed 19 people and wounded over 200, including many civilians Mandela mentions it in passing, and has the following to say.The killing of civilians was a tragic accident, and I felt a profound horror at the death toll But disturbed as I was by these casualties, I knew that such accidents were the inevitable consequence of the decision to embark on a military struggle Human fallibility is always a part of war, and the price of it is always high It was precisely because we knew that such incidents would occur that our decision to take up arms had been so grave and reluctant But as Oliver said at the time of the bombing, the armed struggle was imposed upon us by the violence of the apartheid regime.We are on dangerous ground here Can we put a number on how many civilian deaths are considered a reasonable price to pay for ending apartheid At the same time, though, who on earth am I to question his decisions and moral code I who have never experienced a fraction of the abuse and discrimination which was his daily life, and who am never likely to have to make the impossible choices that were so common under apartheid All I can say is Mandela doesn t shy away from it I may not always be comfortable about it, but I felt a deep respect for his willingness to stand behind his actions and explain them as best he can.Ultimately, Mandela was saved from being a truly ambiguous figure by the simple fact that he was arrested and imprisoned before he could be directly involved in any violence himself for him, it s all theoretical, and, locked away behind bars, he could be viewedsimply as an innocent martyr to a just cause And indeed, it s in his response to the years of incarceration that the greatness of Mandela s character comes through Twenty seven years in jail would be enough to make any man bitter but he is the opposite of bitter Time and again he shows himself willing to listen to and work with those who might easily be called his enemies from dissenting black activists, through ambivalent prison warders, up to the president of South Africa.It s his astonishing ability to do without bitterness essentially, his capacity for forgiveness which really makes Mandela an inspiration Perhaps it s my na vet , but I can t help concluding that, when international pressure got too much for South Africa s government, it was Mandela s openness in negotiations which forged the breakthrough and not the MK s sporadic attempts to meet violence with violence That s certainly what I ll take away from this excellent and fascinating memoir that, and a delight in his unshakable belief that no matter how degrading the conditions, or how long the imprisonment, no one had the power to damage who he was on the inside Prison and the authorities conspire to rob each man of his dignity In and of itself, that assured that I would survive, for any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose because I will not part with it at any price or under any pressure If you are not a prolific reader, the size and weight of this volume may look daunting After reading the first two or three chapters, you will be tempted to give up DON T It s just about to get really good.This autobiography chronicles Mandela s life, first as the son of a tribal chief, then as an educated Black man under Apartheid a dangerous thing to be and then the journey, both outward and inward, from attorney to the leader of a revolution You will read about his time on Riecher s I If you are not a prolific reader, the size and weight of this volume may look daunting After reading the first two or three chapters, you will be tempted to give up DON T It s just about to get really good.This autobiography chronicles Mandela s life, first as the son of a tribal chief, then as an educated Black man under Apartheid a dangerous thing to be and then the journey, both outward and inward, from attorney to the leader of a revolution You will read about his time on Riecher s Island, the notorious prison, and the various experiences he had in the courtroom and in captivity He tells of the cunning ways those who were jailed for political reasons created to communicate and to an extent, continue to lead from inside prison And he breaks up the horror with an occasional vignette of a surprisingly kindly jailor or other authority figure who does small, decent things when no one is looking.If you are interested in the history of South Africa and the defeat of Apartheid, this is a must read If you ever, as I did, had a Free Nelson Mandela poster in your living roomread this, and celebrate As I continue the forty days of biography reading, I thought I ought to tackle some of the big players in the world of politics At a time when the world is still ill balanced, I wanted to delve into the world of Nelson Mandela, one who sought to recalibrate a significant unbalance on the African continent over a number of decades Having a great interest in South Africa, the backwardness of apartheid s acceptance by any governing body, and how the world handled the bloodshed under the racist As I continue the forty days of biography reading, I thought I ought to tackle some of the big players in the world of politics At a time when the world is still ill balanced, I wanted to delve into the world of Nelson Mandela, one who sought to recalibrate a significant unbalance on the African continent over a number of decades Having a great interest in South Africa, the backwardness of apartheid s acceptance by any governing body, and how the world handled the bloodshed under the racist regime there, I felt this would be a wonderful starting point I have read much historical fiction about the country and the struggles, but it is high time we look to facts and figures There will be those who oppose me reading this autobiography for propaganda reasons and they have already reared their heads and I welcome their sentiments, though the sub set who are supremacists and bully views for the sake of racism belong in the weed choked fields of knowledge from whence they came And yes, they have come out to write to me as well Born in 1918 with the birth name Rolihlahla , Xhosa for pulling the branch of a tree , Mandela lived his early years in a small village far from the bustling cities of Cape Town or Johannesburg Living in the traditional way of Africans, the village shared resources and means of survival, which might have fostered his views that found him in hot water decades later Seeing much potential in their son, Mandela s parents allowed the Church to play a strong role in his upbringing and education, which led him to find a passion for the law Mandela explains early on in this autobiography that his desire to advocate for others became a foundation of the way he lived his life Eventually pulled into the larger city, Mandela worked in a law firm in Johannesburg, though failed to pass some of the essential academic examinations to earn an LLB However, Mandela found a strong desire to help his fellow African with issues that arose and worked within the limits before him to ensure that all South Africans shared the same opportunities South Africa was in the midst of a transformation, still part of the British Commonwealth but run primarily by the Afrikaner white minority, who ruled in an off balance manner that sought to use the minority sentiments to shape the laws for all With the exclusion of the black African please allow me at this time to offer apologies for anyone who takes offence to the word black , for I am simply using the term Mandela presented throughout, which differentiates between the white minority and the unrepresented majority population, Mandela began to meet with other like minded men and sought to join the political movement of the African National Congress ANC , whose long standing support of black equality fit nicely with the views he espoused Mandela used this passion to fuel his mantra as he sought to push back against the views of the South African Government Mandela did find time to marry, choosing Evelyn Nkoto Mase, who bore him his first set of children Mandela explores the life of an anti colonist and the role the ANC played in his early life By this time, the South African government brought in apartheid, an approach to racial divide the country and benefit the whites Mandela would not stand for this and spoke out whenever he could to counter the racist governmental policies The strains between Mandela and Evelyn led to a disintegration of that marriage and Mandela was forced to come to terms with it while he wrestled for black equality Not long single, Mandela met and married Winnie Madikizela, sure they would be together after their first date Things ramped up and Mandela was soon persona non grata in the country, hiding from the authorities in order to protect himself Mandela tells of his secret trips to other parts of Africa to meet with other black leaders who were also trying to toss the shackles of oppression from their peoples And yet, the world stood by and watched as the politics of South Africa becametroublesome The ANC ramped up its views and Mandela became a strong figurehead, eventually brought to trial for High Treason after espousing views of wanting to overthrow the government Mandela makes clear that there was no way to follow a peaceful solution against the Government, though he may have wanted to parallel Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr However, targeted violence would not include the regular citizen and assassination was never promoted or condoned Sentenced to life in prison after the judge chose not to impose the death penalty, Mandela began his twenty seven years behind bars on Robben Island, an isolated prison facility A resident of the Robben Island prison Mandela speaks frankly about his incarceration and the treatment he received While the meals were poor and the sanitary conditions less than ideal, I expected severe beatings and horrendous treatment at the hands of guards and wardens to pepper the narrative However, Mandela was seen as an advocate for his fellow prisoners and earned the respect of the white prison hierarchy, to the point that he was given special treatment when presenting concerns to the prison authorities His imprisonment became a political soapbox and many people from all corners of the world came to see him and listen to his views, though nothing changed While the outside world continued to speak out against apartheid and issued sanctions, politics within the country sought to strengthen the racially divisive movement under a number of leaders, culminating in P.W Botha, perhaps its most ruthless Afrikaner leader However, as Mandela presents in the latter portion of the narrative, Botha readily met with Mandela and heard his complaints Mandela continued to espouse equality and fought against apartheid, though Botha gave only lip service to these concerns As the world began to shift toward the end of the 1980s, South Africa s apartheid views seemed to dissipate when Botha stepped down and F.W de Klerk became prime minister Under de Klerk, Mandela s sentence came to an end and he was able to leave Robben Island, completing the long and sordid walk to freedom Mandela is able to use the last dozen or so chapters to speak of this freedom and the changes that came to pass, though there was surely many hurdles to overcome and much reconciliation that needed to take place Mandela advocated for free and open elections, even while de Klerk sought an outright veto over any legislation for the Afrikaners Push came to shove and the racial divide led tomurders, increased resentment, and added pressure on Mandela and the ANC to prove that they could act within political means and not turn to guns Mandela speaks frankly, though never stops pushing for talk over bullet to solve the issue By the time the first open national election came to pass in 1994, Mandela was able to rise to the role of President of the South African Republic, the ultimate gift after decades of oppression Some who saw that I was reading this jumped immediately onto Mandela s being a communist as though that were a poisoned moniker and a terrorist Both of these sentiments are true in their textbook form, though the flavour in which they were presented makes them seem horrid and worthy of vilification To those people, who prefer to talk of peaceful whites and raping blacks I kid you not , I can only offer pity as they allow ignorance to ferment inside their minds It also shows that they have no interest in engaging in an intellectual conversation on Mandela or the apartheid era in South Africa Mandela s upbringing was very much one of social equality for all and his interest in Marxist views fuelled a passion to see equality for every man, woman, and child within South Africa, irregardless of the colour of their skin or background His terrorist leanings were borne out of a need to bring about needed change I neither condemn or condone these actions, but I do see some rationale, as Mandela spoke of wanting to emulate Gandhi s protest in India However, while the British were a sensible people with a democratic political system that permitted all to vote, South Africa would never allow blacks to have a political voice, thereby keeping them from ever bringing about change in a parliamentary means Mandela spoke of two Americans coming to see him in prison, pushing the idea of Martin Luther King s triumphs in America without ever needing to promote violence Again, Mandela spoke of how the US Constitution entrenched equal rights within the document and King was only trying to promote these sentiments in the racist south So, while he was a terrorist in the textbook sense, one might wonder if it was for a good cause Of course, that will not quell the views of those who are cemented into a hatred that could include burning crosses or half truths, but then again, some people s ignorance comes from indoctrination and a refusal to expand their knowledge Mandela s crisp delivery is refreshing, especially as he speaks to frankly about these issues I was drawn into the chapters and found myself begging forinformation, even though I was already drowning in all the narrative had to offer Mandela does not try to make himself look like a martyr or saint, but does not shy away from the evils he felt were developing around him His love of self, family, and the larger South African state appears throughout While this was an autobiography, it is balanced and can be called a realistic account, though I would be remiss if I took it as gospel Mandela pulls no punches, while remaining above the fray and not getting himself stuck in the racial mud slinging that one might expect from someone who was oppressed for so long He could have penned a powerful piece, highly critical of the government and scathing in its presentation, but by keeping things balanced and free from poisonous rhetoric, the reader islikely to find pieces they support The attentive reader will learn how Mandela devised early drafts of this piece and find themselves impressed with his ability to recollect so much Far from succinct, but laid out perfectly to see the slow development of Mandela s struggles, the reader will surely appreciate the attention to detail and powerful arguments that pepper this piece from beginning to end Kudos seem to be too small an honour to bestow upon you, Mr Mandela I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and while others may criticise me for even considering it, I am happy I took the time to learn about these struggles within South Africa.I would encourage anyone who knows of a good book that tells the opposite side of the argument to send me a recommendation All I ask is that it is well sourced and a grounded piece that does not spiral into hate speech I am eager to see apartheid and the white struggle within South Africa, should it exist.Like hate the review An ever growing collection of others appears at Long Walk to Freedom The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom 1 2 , Nelson MandelaLong Walk to Freedom is an autobiography written by South African President Nelson Mandela, and first published in 1994 by Little Brown Co The book profiles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison Under the apartheid government, Mandela was regarded as a terrorist and jailed on the infamous Robben Island He later achieved international recognition for his leadership a Long Walk to Freedom The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom 1 2 , Nelson MandelaLong Walk to Freedom is an autobiography written by South African President Nelson Mandela, and first published in 1994 by Little Brown Co The book profiles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison Under the apartheid government, Mandela was regarded as a terrorist and jailed on the infamous Robben Island He later achieved international recognition for his leadership as president in rebuilding the country s once segregated society The last chapters of the book describe his political ascension, and his belief that the struggle still continued against apartheid in South Africa 1995 1374 804 23 9644233263 1379 1383 1387 9789644233265 1390 1392 1395 1397 20 1392 168 9789643137250 1918 1944 1948 1962 1962 1963 1964 1982 27 1990 07 04 1399 [ Read Kindle ] ⚉ Long Walk to Freedom ☣ 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 infrom 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 a Jewish firm 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 s 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 , 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 I had skipped over this book by Nelson Mandela 1918 2013 many times thinking I had read it The other day I checked my records and was surprised to discovered I had recorded it to read but had not read it I now have corrected that mistake.The book is well written It covers Nelson Mandela s life from childhood to becoming the president of South Africa The author also describes the history of South Africa and the various local tribes so I have a better understanding of the situation The writ I had skipped over this book by Nelson Mandela 1918 2013 many times thinking I had read it The other day I checked my records and was surprised to discovered I had recorded it to read but had not read it I now have corrected that mistake.The book is well written It covers Nelson Mandela s life from childhood to becoming the president of South Africa The author also describes the history of South Africa and the various local tribes so I have a better understanding of the situation The writing is a bit dry at times and very little personal emotion is displayed Mandela s high ideals and his fight for freedom comes through loud and clear in the book The book is about the fight for civil rights This is an excellent memoir It held my attention throughout the book.I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible The book is twenty nine hours and thirty nine minutes Michael Boatman does a good job narrating the book Boatman is an actor and audiobook narrator I am glad I read this as an audiobook as I would never had been able to pronounce the African names First of all let me say that Nelson Mandela is an amazing man who has been throughtrials than I could ever imagine, and he faced them with such class and strength I am glad I knowabout his history and his life as a freedom fighter, and this book gave me greater appreciation for black South Africans However, it was a long, long, long, long walk to freedom I guess I like books that are written in story form, which shows some lack of intelligence on my part, unfortunately It took First of all let me say that Nelson Mandela is an amazing man who has been throughtrials than I could ever imagine, and he faced them with such class and strength I am glad I knowabout his history and his life as a freedom fighter, and this book gave me greater appreciation for black South Africans However, it was a long, long, long, long walk to freedom I guess I like books that are written in story form, which shows some lack of intelligence on my part, unfortunately It took me about 11 months to read this book, and I would have given up, except for the fact that it would make me crazy to start a book and not finish it especially because I wanted to learnabout apartheid Where does one start with this The story of freedom fighter, head of state, and world leader, Nelson Mandela a book that spans his childhood, years spent in prison, and subsequent election as president I grew up constantly reminded that a man, this man, was seated somewhere in South Africa in a prison cell, fighting for freedom for an entire nation and group of people The former president started this manuscript while in prison sometime around 1974 and concocted a plan to have the original Where does one start with this The story of freedom fighter, head of state, and world leader, Nelson Mandela a book that spans his childhood, years spent in prison, and subsequent election as president I grew up constantly reminded that a man, this man, was seated somewhere in South Africa in a prison cell, fighting for freedom for an entire nation and group of people The former president started this manuscript while in prison sometime around 1974 and concocted a plan to have the original manuscript snuck out of prison which ended up being a smart plan since prison guards confiscated what they thought was the original manuscript The book is long and quite detailed at times wordy , with extra care paid to conversations and political names and roles, travels Mandela had with political heads of state, the making of the political group The ANC, the start of the movement to denounce apartheid, and a detailed family tree in the beginning It is a book you usually see written by a biographer like this one written about Warren Buffet The Snowball Warren Buffett and the Business of Life Instead, the former president wrote this one himself, taking careful pains to even talk about his childhood school and upbringing another thing you normally see omitted from autobiographies, and sometimes biographies Excerpts from this book could be studied in history and literature classes It is a poignant read written in classic autobiography style, with a strong voice, one that has serious life lessons and inspiration for anybody at any stage of life The best way I can discuss this book is by talking about the highlights of each of its eleven parts Part 1 This is about Mr Mandela s childhood in the country He talks about his family tree His family came from the royal household of the Thembu tribe his father was an adviser to kings, and a wealthy nobleman who lost his holdings when he was fired by a magistrate from England even though he believed that he only answered to Thembu custom and not by the laws of the king of England The Mandela family chieftainship was then ended His father died when he was young and his mother handed him over to a Xhosa chief named Jongubtaba, who had offered to be his guardian.Part 2 Mandela escapes the chief s house along with the chief s biological son when he learns that marriage, and a set lifestyle that included rules and no personal freedom, had been arranged for them My head told me it was the right of every man to plan his own future as he pleased and choose his role in life He escaped to Johannesburg, where he worked as a night watchman and later as a law clerk as he completed his law degree my performance as a law student was dismal Part 3 Nelson Mandela as a freedom fighter This section goes into details about the startup of the ANC, dispelling some myths He also talks about his first wife, Evelyn Mase The most profound and telling statement from this section and arguably, the book is this one I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments, produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people There was no particular day on which I said, From henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise Part 4 This section details the beginning of the struggle During this time, President Mandela opened his law firm He talks about being harrassed in court by judges and attorneys, about being served an order from the police that would legally ban him from the ANC at age thirty five Part 5 Mandela discusses his first divorce and his second marriage, as well as prison life This is where the female contribution to the apartheid struggle is introduced when the women begin to take an active part in the struggle, no power on earth can stop us from achieving freedom in our lifetime I enjoyed seeing the admiration he had for his second wife, Winnie Madikizela, pour through in this section Part 6 The part that stood out for me in this section his travels to West Africa where the anti apartheid movement received financial and moral support from West African heads of state in Liberia, Mali, Guinea, Ghana, Sierra Leone, etc This is also the section where he discusses the violence that had increased in African townships and the decision the ANC made to add guerrilla fighters to the resistance MK Part 7 After living underground for seventeen months, President Mandela was arrested for inciting African workers to strike and for leaving the country without valid travel documents 1962 At first he was given five years Later, someone from his organization the guerrilla MK would become a snitch for the police and a few executives from the organization, including Mandela, would be jailed for years Part 8 This was a heart wrenching section He talks about the dark years on Robben Island I could walk the length of my cell in three paces When I lay down, I could feel the wall with my feet and my head grazed the concrete at the other side.I was forty six years old, a political prisoner with a life sentence He was entitled to have only one visitor and receive one letter within a six month timeframe During this time, his wife was being harassed, jailed, interrogated, held in solitary confinement, and he wondered, What were the authorities doing to my wife How would she bear up Who was looking after our daughters Who would pay the bills Part 9 Mr Mandela s role as an underground leader was finally visible to the public Keep in mind, when he was first jailed, people had no idea how he looked like because pictures were banned and the prisoners even had to steal newspapers which were considered contraband Negotiations had started and this is also when he started to write this book, I adopted a rather unorthodox work schedule I would write most of the night and sleep during the day He also mentioned a student boycott in this section that was mentioned in Kaffir Boy The True Story of a Black Youth s Coming of Age in Apartheid South AfricaPart 10 Serious negotiations with the government and the incoming president, De Klerk This section showcased one of Mr Mandela s strengths inclusiveness He even stated that he wasn t in favor of having his white brothers leave, he just wanted his black brothers to have rights to their country Pivotal moment I think, especially if you ve read a lot of books on post colonialism Part 11 Freedom, separation from his wife, details of diplomatic meetings This section is an invigorating read as President Mandela describes the crowds upon his release, his meetings with old friends, etc One great moment was his reminder of seeing Mrs King seated on the stage when he gave his first speech after being released Mrs Coretta Scott King, the wife of the great freedom fighter Martin Luther King Jr was on the podium that night, and I looked over to her as I made my reference to her husband s immortal words Breathtaking moment It made me want to re read a few of the biographies I ve read on Dr King I was not born with a hunger to be free I was born free Nelson Mandela A hero who fought till he succeeded. Long Walk to Freedom is the first book I ve read by the leader of a country containing instructions on how to overthrow a country.Mandela is serious about this He mentions that when his African National Congress decided to commit to violence, they read works by and about Che Guevara, Mao Tse tung, Fidel Castro to figure out how to do it The phrase A freedom fighter must recurs He means this to be read by freedom fighters This book is many things, but maybe the most important thing is Long Walk to Freedom is the first book I ve read by the leader of a country containing instructions on how to overthrow a country.Mandela is serious about this He mentions that when his African National Congress decided to commit to violence, they read works by and about Che Guevara, Mao Tse tung, Fidel Castro to figure out how to do it The phrase A freedom fighter must recurs He means this to be read by freedom fighters This book is many things, but maybe the most important thing is a manual for revolution.It s also a defense of Mandela s legacy, and that part is interesting too Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, which seemed odd to everyone since he has not advocated peace I called for nonviolent protest for as long as it was effective, he says When it was ineffective, I was candid and explained why I believed we had no choice but to turn to violence He lays out the four types of violent activities, which should be undertaken in order sabotage, guerrilla warfare, terrorism, and open revolution The ANC never moved beyond sabotage, but he says clearly we were prepared to move on to the next stage guerrilla warfare and terrorism So maybe I shouldn t say defense It s a clarification.This sets us up for the most dramatic scene in the book, and one of the most dramatic in history the Rivonia Trial in 1964, in which Mandela and several others were sentenced to life in prison for sabotage This was a victory death was on the table Mandela chose not to defend himself instead he delivered a statement about which his lawyers said, If Mandela reads this in court they will take him out in back of the courthouse and string him up Here s part of his statement I planned sabotage I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence, I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by whites.During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.You can actually hear part of this speech here skip to 2 10 if you re in a hurry It s an incredible thing to listen to I grew up while Mandela was in prison, and apartheid in South Africa was the first injustice I was aware of My first experience with activism, in Amherst MA with the mighty activist Frances Crow, was running around town putting up posters with Mandela s face on them Mandela screwed up my hair in high school my mom wouldn t let me grow it long until I claimed that I wasn t cutting it until Mandela was freed, which she felt she couldn t argue with They freed him like six months later and I was like aw, man It seemed like a foolproof plan I got to see him speak shortly afterwards in Boston on his freedom tour, but I didn t have a chance to tell him about my hair.This is all to say that reading this book was a powerful experience for me Mandela is one of history s true heroes of freedom To be able to read his words is special and of immense value I got actual chills at times, reading about how for example he refused to be freed if it meant compromising his movement He was in jail for nearly 30 years This isn t one of those books that makes you realize that the writer is just a person like you and me Mandela was not like you and me He was a titan