Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Long Walk to Freedom
Country: South Africa
Description: Here Nelson Mandela recounts his life up to the time he voted for the first time (1994). He includes his childhood, time as a lawyer, and his 27 years in prison.
My Thoughts: Long Walk to Freedom was a fascinating read. Mandela was incredibly honest about his regrets, especially that he didn't spend enough time with his family. Of course the perspective is biased, but it is his memoir, after all!
Mandela wrote in a very conversational style which made Long Walk to Freedom easy to read. I'll admit that at first I found it slightly off-putting--he very much tells you what he was feeling at any given time, rather than trying to help you feel what he was feeling--but I suspect that was more of a left-over on my part from reading too many novels. The style worked very well for what he needed to do, which was tell the story of his life.
What I found most powerful was Mandela's descriptions of his childhood and young adulthood. It was during this period that he still thought that whites were superior in every way, and I loved hearing about how he fought against this perception until it was no longer the truth for him that it had once been. It was also something of a shock--I've never thought much about what it would be like to grow up utterly believing that a certain group or race or whatever was so superior. Mandela did a great job describing the process of discovering the lies he'd been told, and I especially liked the little incidents he described that showed this process: the first time he saw a black man stand up to a white man and not be reprimanded, the first time he was humiliated at being sent on an errand by a white man he didn't know (rather than agreeing that he should be sent on errands).
A fascinating book on Mandela's life and the end of apartheid in South Africa.