Barbara's Reviews > Young Mandela: The Revolutionary Years

Young Mandela by David James Smith
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's review
Nov 02, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: first-reads-favorites, biography, south-africa, 20th-century, published-in-2010, in-africa, read-in-2010, history, non-fiction, reviewed
Read from December 03 to 29, 2010

I finished reading Young Mandela: The Revolutionary Years, by David James Smith, and I loved it, but there was so much information in this book including ALL of the people who worked along with Mr. Mandela that at times my head would start spinning while reading this. I learned so much about Nelson Mandela, beginning with his childhood and all through his revolutionary years, and I also learned a great deal about South Africa during the first half of the 20th Century (actually, up until around 1964.) In addition, Mandela had traveled around the African continent prior to his imprisonment, and I learned some fascinating things about some of the other African nations. Most importantly, I learned of the struggle and sacrifice of Mr. Mandela, and the importance of really believing in a cause (and, in this case, a very worthy cause -- the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa.) It's really an amazing and extremely inspiring story, which I would recommend to everyone.

It took me a long time to read this book, probably due to the fact that I'm not the fastest reader in the world, but also because David James Smith really fills up every one of the 362 (or so) pages with tons and tons of detailed information about Mandela's life prior to his arrest in 1962 which led to 27 years of imprisonment. It was fascinating to learn so much about Nelson Mandela, the man (as opposed to "the hero" or "the icon" or "the President.") I've learned quite a lot about his relationships with his first two wifes, Evelyn and Winnie, and his children from both marriages. It seems that his dedication to his cause and all of the work he did to abolish apartheid really took quite a toll on his family.

I have always known Nelson Mandela as a man who has accomplished more than would seem possible for one person to do, and he definitely is one of the most important people of all time, but it's nice to see his "human" side as well -- that he actually has flaws and faults.

David James Smith shares so many stories which inform the reader of exactly what apartheid really meant and really felt like for Africans during that time. I think it's so important for people who truly do not understand what discrimination or segregation feels like to read this book in order to get a better insight on what it would be like. This biography is so inspiring because so many people would have just said "OK, there is nothing we can do about this, so let's just accept things as they are," but Mandela and his many supporters refused to accept the horrible way that Africans were treated in their own country. (Let alone the fact that no human being should be treated differently than other human beings, whether in their own country or not.) Mandela and his supporters really put their lives on the line and stood up for what they believed in.

This book really meant so much to me, and I'm so happy to have had an opportunity to read about and learn so much about a truly amazing man, and to discover how "real" and "human" he is.

Thank you to Literanista and The Hachette Book Group, and thank you to Goodreads for choosing me as a First Reads winner of this very interesting and important book. I enjoyed it so much.


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12/16/2010 page 245
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