Review of 'Long Walk to Freedom'

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

This is Nelson Mandela's fascinating memoirs following his birth in the district of Umtata in South Africa through his university education (and his real-life education of what it was like to be an African – in a country that actively sought to deny his people their basic human rights) culminating in his being elected president. His early days in the ANC followed by his extended 20 year encarcaration on Robben Island and his eventual release from prison in 1990. It is fascinating to read of his internal struggles with his own internal morality and with ANC policy as it turns from his original pacifism to a more desparate role in advocating sabotage (but never personal violence) with his involvement in Umkhonto we Sizwe (an offshoot of the ANC) including his training as a guerilla in Addis Ababa (cut short because of events back in South Africa). His on-going activities even when he was in prison culminating in his secret (and not-so-secret) talks with the government in defining a new South Africa are elaborated in vivid detail. His accomplishments are truly astounding and he writes with obvious authority and hard-earned wisdom. He often expresses his regret that struggle for his country and beliefs have come before his family and describes with great sorrow his divorce and regretable distance from his relatives. He writes that his life is a struggle and the book ends with the looking towards a brighter future – but towards which struggle is still required.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Genre: Autobiography