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Good Morning, Mr. Mandela: A Memoir

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  653 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
“InGood Morning, Mr. Mandela, Zelda la Grange recounts her remarkable life at the right hand of the man we both knew and loved. It's a tribute to both of them—to Madiba's eye for talent and his capacity for trust and to Zelda's courage to take on a great challenge and her capacity for growth. This story proves the power of making politics personal and is an important remin ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Viking
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Sonja Dreyer Not really about him, more about Zelda's experience working with him

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Petra X
"...[w]henever no other excuse could be found for a problem, race is the easiest issue to blame." This is so true, especially with the major racism where I live where all whites, from any country or culture in the world are to be blamed for whatever the problem is,

That is not to say there isn't white racism too. There is. But it isn't the blunt self-justification, expecting support from the crowd that black against white racism is here, these days.

Ahmed Kathrada, "Forgiveness is a choice." (Tal
This very unusual and intimate portrait of Zelda la Grange’s time with Nelson Mandela as his personal secretary is as heartbreaking as it is memorable. Zeldina, as Madiba chose to call her, was applying for a typist job in the new ANC government in 1994 when word came that the President’s office needed a typist. A young, white Afrikaner, Zelda became the youngest of the rainbow staff that served the President. In time, she grew to manage his schedule and accompany him on trips abroad.

This book d
Julia Grundling
Jul 27, 2014 Julia Grundling rated it it was amazing
this is an absolutely incredible story - i finished this book a few minutes ago and I stand in awe. I

i am an open-minded person, and let others be, and respect different opinions, but I'm staying clear from any criticism of the book, including how "badly it was written". I'm sure the book was also not written to receive accolades and prizes for the way it was written. it tells the most amazing story, which is one of the greatest miracles ever.
Sep 12, 2014 Tania rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” Nelson Mandela

3.5 stars. A wellwritten book about how Madiba changed many peoples lives, and in this case specifically his personal assistant, Zelda. I really liked that she wrote respectfully, but still manage to not only show us Mandela the great man, but also Mandela the human. The book gave a quick overview of South African politics. I find it very sad that a person could a peacebroker in so many countries, but
Wendy Arbeit
Apr 17, 2016 Wendy Arbeit rated it really liked it
An interesting read, but in need of a strong editor.
Tex Reader
2.5 of 5 stars – Somewhat Informative but Ultimately Disappointing Account.
(I'm excited to have won this as a Goodreads First Read – so thanks!)

I’m a great admirer of Mr. Mandela, and wanted to read more about him, especially with this being a personal account, hoping I’d get more of an insider’s view and insight into the behind-the-scenes political, social, or even personal aspects of Mr. Mandela. Unfortunately this book falls a little short of that expectation. She does state upfront that this
This story has so many facets to it. At one end it is a coming of age tale of a young, politically naïve Afrikaans girl who grows up to become assistant to one of the iconic historical figures of our time and her growth as an individual through the many experiences that she shares with him. It is the lesser told story of life-after-prison-and-president of Nelson Mandela and it takes up where so many other books cease. It is also a love story between an unexpected honorary granddaughter and a ...more
Jun 27, 2014 Belinda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was a major disappointment.

I really wanted to like this book. But it was long, boring, and poorly written. Don’t take my word for it, read an excerpt from the book:

“Madiba (as she calls Mr. Mandela) was always well groomed and took great care in making sure that his skin was well moisturized, and I remember how I sometimes had to struggle during his Presidency to get a particular lotion that was not available on the South African market at the time – simple Palmer’s Body Lotion that he used w
Aug 11, 2014 Anne-Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ek het gewonder oor die ophef wat daar van hierdie boek gemaak is vooraf. Toe ek vanaand die laaste woorde lees, het ek geweet dit was elke greintjie ophef werd. Zelda, net soos Mandela, is enig in haar soort. Die voorsienigheid het hierdie twee mense bymekaar uitgebring en uiteindelik aan mekaar verbind met bande selfs sterker as bloed. Ek dink Zelda het in groot mate met haar totale toegewydheid aan Madiba dalk onbewustelik boetedoening gedoen vir die onregte wat 'haar mense' vir soveel jare ...more
Sharon Reuben
Jul 22, 2014 Sharon Reuben rated it really liked it
Written with such love and compassion for Mr Mandela! The writing style is unmistakably amateur, but one needs to go beyond that. This is a very personal account of Zelda's relationship with Mr Mandela over her 18 years of dedicated service. There is naturally a lot left unsaid... As it should be. How awful for her to be treated so badly by some members of the family ... Brought tears to my eyes that years of devotion could be so easily overlooked. Interesting facts gleamed about the high ...more
Alta Cloete
Aug 11, 2014 Alta Cloete rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'n Besondere boek oor 'n besondere verhouding. Sonder pretensie en sonder sensasie.Lees dit gerus.
Jul 07, 2014 Claire rated it liked it
I received Good Morning, Mr. Mandela as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Raised under apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, Zelda la Grange led a privileged existence as a white Afrikaner. Taught to fear any and every black person, she entered early adulthood as a stalwart conservative and, by her own admission, a racist. However, in the early 1990s, fate brought her into the path of Nelson Mandela, then recently released from prison and newly-elected president of South Africa. First wor
Jun 21, 2015 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought a signed copy of this book as there was so much hype around it. I had always believed Mandela's choice of a white Afrikaner woman to work in his inner office was a strategic move, but there was so much warmth and understanding in the relationship between Madiba and his personal assistant that one recognises genuine chemistry and mutual caring between them. It's a story of her transformation and personal growth and in the telling Zelda la Grange is completely without guile. Throughout, ...more
Aug 20, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review:

Zelda grew up in apartheid era South Africa, which her family believed and supported the racist government. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Zelda was hired as a secretary for the president’s office. Little would she realize that she go from being a lowly secretary to being President Mandela’s loyal confidant, traveling the world with him and destroying her life-long beliefs of segr
The audio recording was a bit annoying at first because the narrator did not quite capture either Zelda's or Madhiba's voice and affected a strange lisp doing Zelda, but then I got used to it. I liked the story about how Zelda came to work for Madhiba and their interactions. The part that happened when I was living in South Africa rang very true. Zelda went on a bit too long about last stages of Mandela's life, how sad she was, and the bad and disrespectful behavior by some family members and ...more
Feb 17, 2015 Shane rated it really liked it
I will read anything I can get my hands on about Nelson Mandela. This one didn't disappoint. It was an incredibly personal and candid recount of Zelda's personal relationship with a global icon of humanitarianism. Her reverence for him is apparent, but she isn't afraid to speak of his flaws. No fear though, this isn't a staff members attempts to air her boss's dirty laundry. I'd categorize it as a good reminder that he was a human, after all. A must read for anyone with a fascination of one of ...more
Lisa Tousignant-fallon
Nov 11, 2015 Lisa Tousignant-fallon rated it really liked it
I thought this was an excellent book. I still can't believe when they discuss situations that happened in Africa in 1989-90. I would have been 13/14 years old and oblivious that racism was happening to that extent. Now a days, kids have access to the internet and all sorts of resources we didn't have to get this information quickly. This young lady was brought up to be afraid of black people and then she ends up working for one of the greatest men around (Nelson Mandela) and he changes ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Jenny rated it it was ok
I will read just about anything Mandela-related, but this one tested my limits. The novelty of the book is supposed to be that Ms. La Grange, a white Afrikaner, was Mandela's personal assistant for decades. That could have been an interesting premise, but it's written at about a 6th grade level, and does not appear to have been edited. The only thing that I really found noteworthy was that Mandela's family members, other than his wife Ms. Machel, come off as boorish and petty.
Sonja Randall
Jun 27, 2014 Sonja Randall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ongelooflike boek, sy skryf soos sy praat en klink oor die radio/TV. Die storie spreek van wedersydse omgee, respek en vertroue tussen twee spesiale mense. Wat die boek ekstra spesiaal maak is dat dit Zelda se storie is, haar gevoelens, haar ervaring... ook haar groei - iets waarmee elkeen kan identifiseer. Lojaliteit is altyd 'n bonus, maar hierdie verhouding het veel verderder en dieper gestrek as dit.
Nov 04, 2015 Ingrid rated it liked it
In het begin een wat oppervlakkig relaas van alle reizen en ontmoetingen. Aan het eind laat ze haar gevoel wat meer zien. Ik heb moeten wennen aan haar verering van Mandela, maar nu het boek uit is begrijp ik het wel. Ze heeft tussen de regels ook laten zien waar Mandela sterk in was en waarin niet. Ze vereerde hem ook als mens die hij was. Maar wat een nare familie.
Aug 24, 2014 Yvonne rated it liked it
The content of this book is fascinating, but it is so badly written and this irritated me all the way through. Perhaps the publisher wanted the story from Zelda's mouth, with her Afrikaans overtones and mediocre English, but I would have preferred a ghost writer to polish up the style and make it more readable.
Margaret Crampton
This book is written with love and passion for Nelson Mandela who Zelda served for 18 years. Although the writing style is pedestrian the content is fascinating. This book is a tribute to a great man and provides insight into his daily life and leaves the reader with huge respect for the his stamina in dealing with a punishing work schedule and his caring kindness to all.
Jan 05, 2015 Cathie rated it liked it
I am sorry that I didn't read this in the original Afrikaans, which might have made it seem less stilted. The book was extremely interesting, but not really well written, with a lot of repetition which was slightly tedious. Worth reading though, and gives a good indication of what South Africa was like for white South Africans before 1994.
Sep 20, 2015 Leo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Geen litterair hoogstandje maar wel een indringend relaas van Zelda la Grange haar jaren die zij voor Nelson Mandela werkte.
May 20, 2016 Rozemarijn rated it really liked it
Reading Around The Globe: South-Africa

Impressive and wonderful memoir. Didn't expect anything less than this.

Beverley Theron
Apr 13, 2016 Beverley Theron rated it it was amazing
Amazing amazing and a book to read over and over
Donna Davis
Zelda la Grange, an Africaner, grew up in South Africa under apartheid. Her family was steadfastly right-wing, and she was brought up to believe that Africaners were fighting against the “black communists”. She had been taught to fear them. The family servant, Jogabeth, was black, but she fell into a slightly different category, since she had a large role in raising la Grange while her parents, who were low income and struggled financially despite their white privilege, were working. But ...more
Bure Kabisa
Nov 01, 2016 Bure Kabisa rated it really liked it
An excellent, well written and compelling read.
Sandy Mohonathn
Oct 15, 2016 Sandy Mohonathn rated it really liked it
Good light reading
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“Another of Madiba's great lessons: you can have a vast difference of opinion with someone but that never justifies disrespect.” 4 likes
“It’s not important in life what happens to you, but how you handle what happens to you.” 3 likes
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