It is not very often that I set to read non-fiction. This book, however, was originally recommended to me by a Rwanda refugee and so I made an exception. What a good decision that was.
Although I was familiar with Mandela's life and South Africa's struggle against the apartheid regime, this book provided me with much more profound understanding of the struggle and the historical events leading to the eventual overthrow of the racist regime. This book, however, is much more than an account of a dark time period in the history of humanity. Above all, this book is an amazing portrayal of a life of a man, an exceptional man who is much too human. We are taken through time, from Mandela's childhood to his presidency, blessed with a unique view of a man marked to die in a secluded prison. His struggle to become a "first-class" citizen and the brutal force with which the then government crushes the hopes of the young men and women is only but a part of the story. Most importantly, we are allowed a unique window into Mandela's psyche and his philosophy, for this book, to me, is mostly about human spirit, its strengths and its weaknesses. Mandela's contemplations regarding the social order, humanity, law, schools and his personal approaches are fascinating and profound. He delves into the depths of human behavior in a fluid, understandable way; his words flow on the pages from one event onto the next, while maintaining a uniform message. Although he did engage in securing financing for a possible armed conflict, his hopes and faith reside in a non-violent solution. Mandela's life is, after all, one giant wound on the face of mankind. Neglected and abandoned by the superpowers of the world, the people of South Africa never lost hope and Mandela is a fascinating and shining example of a man, stripped of everything, who, no matter what life threw in his way, maintained his dignity and his sight not only on the problems, but also on the solutions. An amazing read I am happy to recommend. This book should be read by everyone.