Mandela: The Authorised Biography

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9780002571326: Mandela: The Authorised Biography

Widely considered to be the most important biography of Nelson Mandela, Antony Sampson’s remarkable book has been updated with an afterword by acclaimed South African journalist, John Battersby.

Long after his presidency of South Africa, Nelson Mandela remained an inspirational figure to millions – both in his homeland and far beyond. He has been, without doubt, one of the most important figures in global history. His death, on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95, resonated around the world.

Mandela’s opposition to apartheid and his 27 year incarceration at the hands of South Africa’s all-white regime are familiar to most. In this utterly compelling book, eminent biographer Anthony Sampson draws on a fifty year-long relationship to reveal the man who rocked a continent – and changed its future.

With unprecedented access to the former South African president – the letters he wrote in prison, his unpublished jail autobiography, extensive conversations, and interviews with hundreds of colleagues, friends, and family – Sampson depicts the realities of Mandela’s private and public life, and the tragic tension between them. Updated after Sampson’s death with a new afterword by distinguished South African journalist John Battersby, this is the ultimate biography of one of the twentieth century’s greatest statesmen.

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‘A magisterial, detailed and invaluable account of one of this century’s greatest figures … it is hard to believe that a better biography will ever be written.’ Justin Cartwright, Sunday Telegraph

The life of Nelson Mandela, from the personal and the global perspective, is one of the epic stories of the twentieth century. It is also one of the most inspiring. Twenty years ago, Mandela was an almost forgotten figure languishing in jail on Robben Island; today, as he leaves office as President of South Africa, he is one of the most widely admired leaders on earth.

The book provides many new insights into Mandela’s story and sheds new light at every turn on the moral dilemmas and personal choices of both Mandela’s private and public life.

Anthony Sampson has known Mandela from the early 1950s, and conducted hundreds of interviews with colleagues, family and friends as well as prison warders and Afrikaner ex-cabinet ministers, and he is the first person to have examined prison archives in South Africa and diplomatic papers in Great Britain, the United States and South Africa. He was given unprecedented access to 27 years’ worth of unpublished correspondence from prison, as well as to other unpublished writings including Mandela’s original, suppressed, autobiography.


In 1975, imprisoned for life on Robben Island, Nelson Mandela covertly wrote his autobiography. After painstaking months the text was smuggled out--and was promptly quashed by the African National Congress. In his later Long Walk to Freedom Mandela politely expresses "surprise" at this. Sampson reveals that Joe Slovo suppressed the book for not giving enough prominence to Communists. This revelation is remarkable--the ANC could have made much mileage from the book at a time of low fortune--yet Sampson does not follow up. There is too often a sense of eggshells lightly walked upon.

Mandela improves as the prisoner's release approaches. Sampson sharply exposes the machinations of those undermining the ANC's struggle. The CIA knew of the Third Force years before the ANC, yet said nothing. Right-wing governments attacked "Mandela the Communist", preferring to promote Inkhata's Buthelezi, at that time secretly and violently colluding with de Klerk's apartheid regime. Against the small-minded figures of Reagan, Thatcher and Kohl it is Mandela who emerges here a giant. South Africa won her freedom through Mandela: his strength of character and willingness to forgive helped push a country into an alternative future, avoiding the racial civil war almost all predicted. Yet he and his kin paid an awful price. Sampson draws a painful, clear picture of a disintegrating family: dislocation from children; the terrible effects of the war on Winnie, and her increasingly erratic, later murderous behaviour; Mandela's own aching loneliness. It is in capturing Madiba, the ultimate public figure, at his most intense and private, that Sampson's Mandela succeeds best. --Chris Woods

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Sampson, Anthony
Published by Harpercollins Publishers, London (1999)
ISBN 10: 0002571323 ISBN 13: 9780002571326
Used Stiff Paperback First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Blue Gum Books
(Cromer, NSW, Australia)

Book Description Harpercollins Publishers, London, 1999. Stiff Paperback. Book Condition: Good. 1st Edition. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. All Pages Perfectly Tight Bright And Clean Bar Some Slight Page Edge Yellowing, Otherwise Book Is Square And Virtually Crease Free With Minor Corner Bumps - Good Solid Copy. Bookseller Inventory # 005076

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