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Nelson Mandela: A Biography

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  188 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
In this, the first full-scale biography of Nelson Mandela, Martin Meredith vividly captures the epic arc of a life defined by struggle against the brutality of apartheid and its eventual defeat. He provides fascinating insights into the enduring friendships Mandela forged among whites and blacks alike, into the influential role played by his communist colleagues, and into ...more
Hardcover, 596 pages
Published February 1st 1998 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 1997)
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Maddie ♥  ┼
Jul 05, 2016 Maddie ♥ ┼ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography

Nelson Mandela

According to me a Prologue or the 1st Chapter of a book is THE reflection - SO it must capture my attention from page 1 I will continue a few more chapters to give the Book a fair chance to change my mind!

Herewith my review!


I have this theory – I know it is not a good theory – but here it is anyway!

REMEMBER we all have our own opinions!

All over the world there is - racism – racism between the rich and the poor, nationalities, boundaries etc.

But fo
Mikey B.
Jun 17, 2013 Mikey B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, africa
A comprehensive biography of a great figure of the 20th century. Mr. Meredith paints a picture of a man with great dignity and intelligence. A man who rose above the narrow-mindedness of his surrounding society and transformed his country from apartheid to near greatness (admittedly South Africa has a way to go before it can be qualified as “great”).

If one compares the South Africa of pre-1990 to today there are several obvious accomplishments and merits. The toppling of the white power infrast
Jun 30, 2010 Tim rated it it was amazing
With all the attention bestowed upon South Africa in recent weeks due to the global audience for the World Cup, we thought it to be a good time to spotlight the recent and very comprehensive updated reissue of Martin Meredith’s “Mandela: A Biography.”

Despite an unusually large number of books chronicling the life and struggle of the African continent’s most famous 20th Century leader (including his own 1994 autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom”), Meredith’s work covers perhaps the widest berth of
Aug 13, 2015 Lyndell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meredith’s Mandela is one of the most detailed and thorough biographies written on the life of Nelson Mandela. Originally published in 1998, Mandela: A Biography was subsequently updated and republished in 2010. Martin Meredith is a British journalist and historian who has written extensively about Africa. In this exhaustive biography, Meredith traces Mandela’s life starting from his early childhood years, through his young days in the movement, his imprisonment and subsequent release, his presi ...more
Marilyn Pronovost
Oct 12, 2013 Marilyn Pronovost rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book. The start is somewhat sluggish. Full of information but not told as crisply as the remainder of the book. Once the biography gets into Mandela's work for the rights of black citizens, it picks up. Also the author does not shy away from Mandela the hero for People's rights versus Mandela the flawed human being. This is what often makes this book so compelling.

He does not spare his contempt for Winnie Mandela and many of her misguided efforts that brought out her worst inner demon
Steven Z.
As the world has praised Nelson Mandela over the last few weeks there seems little to add concerning his importance to world history. A man of such magnitude deserved a biography that encompasses his entire life with an author who delves into all aspects of their subject including their flaws. I found two major biographies of Mandela, Anthony Sampson’s MANDELA, and a book of the same title by Martin Meredith. I chose Meredith’s work because Sampson’s was the “authorized biography” and I wanted t ...more
Aug 30, 2013 Carisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't a quick read, but it's a worthwhile one, especially if like me you're coming to it with little to no knowledge of South African history and the anti-apartheid movement. Meredith devotes a lot of space to the people and politics around Mandela, giving useful pocket histories of the ANC, the National Party, and the political environment out of which apartheid arose.

I was also very pleased to find this isn't a hagiography. Meredith clearly admires Mandela, but he doesn't gloss over the m
Apr 03, 2008 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone against injustice
I enjoyed this biography, especially because I felt it a somewhat unbiased view of his life. It did not intentionally omit all his shortcomings, especially in relation to his family situation and his leadership. I appreciated that candor immensely especially since far too often historical figures are sanctified and viewed as having no human faults or shortcomings. Which aside from being totally inaccurate is also extremely misleading and unhelpful. Granted the book did glorify him to a degree, b ...more
Jan 22, 2014 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A different perspective on the struggle, compared to Nelson's autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom - lots of gritty details about those in Nelson's closest personal circles who may not have been as good to him as they should have been!

Definitely eye-opening and gives a clearer picture of his life through non-biased eyes, however Long Walk To Freedom remains the quintessential book about Nelson, and by the man himself...a MUST read ... this makes a good companion if you are interested in more abo
Mohammad Yarahmadi
I enjoyed reading about a man who set an example for all liberty activists. The very detailed description bored me at the start, but after sometime I got used to the Authur's style. Although the book is about Nelson Mandela, it goes beyond a biography and tells the story of the South African nation with whom I was merely familiar. My discussions with my South African colleague while I was reading the book made it a more interesting read. I would definitely recommend this book.
Matthew Smith
May 07, 2013 Matthew Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Detailed, comprehensive, and honest retelling of this man's complex and extraordinary life. Meredith never portrays Mandela as more than he is--human--and relates his missteps along with his successes. If you're looking for light reading, this isn't for you. But if you want to begin to understand the life and times of Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid leaders, this is a good place to start.
Mar 01, 2014 Magdalena rated it it was amazing
I love this book because it is very objective, but also very interesting and easy to read. I have had only limited knowledge about South Africa and Apartheid, even though I visited this country last summer, so I was glad that Mr. Meredith presented a big picture and explained overall culture and characterized each person thoroughly. The book is long, but it reads quickly. MUST-READ
Jan 08, 2016 Dylan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dylan by: colleague
An interesting read but is not as good as 'Long walk to freedom'
This book took me a bit of time to get through, but it was definitely worth the read. It's an extensive description of Mandela's life, from his childhood all the way to his post political struggles against AIDS. The author did a great job detailing who Mandela is as a person, and not just what he did. It was most interesting to learn not just about his incredible strengths and positive attributes, but to see his weaknesses and the mistakes that plagued him during and after his time in office. Hi ...more
Aug 01, 2007 Nozqa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
at first i was being pessimistic about my ability to finish the book. it looks like a boring one to read. but the racism part in South Africa did open my eyes to continue reading Mandela's fight against it till he became a leader of a multiracial democracy. not to mention his generosity to share the romantical part of his life that flourish this biography.
Jul 08, 2013 Anders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
A biography filled with hardship and yet there is hope. Mr Mandelas solutionsmindness is a true inspiration and so is his leadership, this will be his legacy to the entire World. A Must read book in my humble opinion!
Jose Torroja ribera
Apasionante el personaje. La biografía muestra una visión completa, no sólo sus logros sino también sus errores y fracasos. La lectura se hace interesante desde la primera página hasta la última.
Jun 14, 2015 Pablo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written account of the traumas and triumphs of Nelson Mandela and his South Africa. Read "Diamonds and Gold" first!
Dec 09, 2011 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very detailed biography. The shocking truth about what really was happening in South Africa.
Barbara Oconnor
More than I bargained for. Too long and detailed. I have reshelved it. Anyone want it?
Jingga Merah
Nov 13, 2013 Jingga Merah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite book.
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Martin Meredith is a historian, journalist and biographer, and author of many acclaimed books on Africa.

Meredith first worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa for the Observer and Sunday Times, then as a research fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford. Residing near Oxford, he is now an independent commentator and author.

Meredith’s writing has been described as authoritative and well-documented
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