Striking in appearancesix foot four and physically imposingwith an aristocratic bearing and incredible charm and self-assurance, Nelson Mandela is the greatest African leader in modern history, 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 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 private world, revealing how Mandela drew moral and political strength from encounters in which everyday courtesy and even generosity softened conflict. Indeed, the lessons Mandela learned as a child about the importance of defeating ones opponents without dishonoring them were deeply engrained. They shaped a politics of grace and honor that was probably the only approach that could have enabled South Africa's relatively peaceful transition to democracy.
Here then is a penetrating look at one of the most celebrated political figures of our time, illuminating a pivotal moment in recent world history.
"Authoritative and fair-minded...deserves to be read widely."
Adam Roberts, The Economist
"A fascinating, indeed riveting, and plausible as well as persuasive examination of why Nelson Mandela should have acquired a world following and can remain as he does an iconic figure even in the 21st century. It is certain to provoke much heated debate."
Tom Lodge's Mandela: A Critical Life is an attempt to rescue the real man -- virtues and blemishes alike -- from the frozen wasteland of sainthood. Lodge is a political scientist who has spent his professional life rigorously and fearlessly charting the complex and treacherous crosscurrents of South African political life, from the apartheid era to the age of black rule. While he is a white liberal with enormous personal sympathy for the cause of black liberation, he has never hesitated to write critically and analytically about black politics and politicians.