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Mandela: A Critical Life

Mandela: A Critical Life

ISBN: 9780192805683
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Striking in appearance--six foot four and physically imposing--with an aristocratic bearing and incredible charm and self-assurance, Nelson Mandela is the greatest African leader in modern history, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and an iconic figure the world over.
Now, in this new and highly revealing biography, Tom Lodge draws on a wide range of original sources to uncover a host of fresh insights about the shaping of Mandela's personality and public persona, from his childhood days and early activism, through his twenty-seven years of imprisonment, to his presidency of the new South Africa. The book follows Mandela from his education at two elite Methodist boarding schools, Clarkebury and Healdtown, to his law career in Johannesburg and Soweto, to his role as a moderating but powerful force in the African National Congress. Throughout, Lodge emphasizes the crucial interplay between Mandela's public career and his personal or private world, showing how his heroic status was a product both of his prominent position within the anti-apartheid movement and his own deliberate efforts to supply a form of quasi-messianic leadership for that movement. Lodge reveals how Mandela drew moral and political strength from encounters in which everyday courtesy, consideration, and even generosity softened conflict. Indeed, the lessons Mandela learned as a child about the importance of defeating one's opponents without dishonoring them were deeply engrained. They shaped a politics of grace and honor that, notwithstanding its conservatism, was probably the only politics that could have enabled South Africa's relatively peaceful transition to democracy.
Here then is a new and highly revealing look at one of the most celebrated political figures of our time, illuminating a pivotal moment in African and indeed world history.

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