Maria Andreu's Reviews > Long Walk to Freedom

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
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Jan 01, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: memoir-biography
Read in July, 2006

I bought this book in South Africa and was immersed in it during the time I spent walking the streets where much of the action of the book happened. It had particular power for me.

There are "saints" in our world that I have long struggled to understand - Mandela has always been one of them. How does one have 27 years of one's life stolen and emerge anything but enraged and ruined? In reading this book and discovering the man, I finally understood. He did feel rage, and did worry sometimes that his life was ruined, but it was in choosing what to do with those feelings that his greatness emerged.

A bear of a read at 751 pages, I deducted one star for its sometimes dense insistence on mentioning lots of names and describing infighting in the various freedom movements of South Africa. But despite its drawbacks, much of the book shines, and it is particularly captivating in the beginning and the end. Mandela's description of his boyhood in rural South Africa, his pride in his lineage and his clear explanations of how colonialism destroyed so much tradition in South Africa (and, indeed, throughout Africa) was not only enlightening but downright enjoyable. And towards the end, when you see the seeds of Mandela's liberation being planted, you can barely contain yourself to get to the joyous ending you know is coming.

An inspiring story for anyone who wants to do good in the world, or anyone who thinks the world needs more good in it. But don't expect a saint here - Mandela emerges as a complicated, interesting, wise and introspective man.
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