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Mandela book offers his personal portrait

[ 2010-10-12 13:41]     字号 [] [] []  
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Nelson Mandela failing classes, fussing over his children, fighting with his wife.

This is not the anti-apartheid icon of Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela's 1995 autobiography. Conversations with Myself, which goes on sale on Tuesday in 22 countries and 20 languages including Catalan and Turkish, presents a more human Mandela, faults, frailties and all.

Conversations was compiled with the 92-year-old former South African president's blessing by a team of archivists, editors and collaborators who worked from decades of notes, letters, recorded conversations and other material.

In a foreword, US President Barack Obama writes that Mandela, who largely retired from public life in 2004, is inspiring even if he is no saint.

"Underneath the history that has been made, there is a human being who chose hope over fear - progress over the prisons of the past," Obama wrote. "And I am reminded that even as he has become a legend, to know the man ... is to respect him even more."

Conversations is best read as a companion to Long Walk, which was in part calculated by Mandela and other members of his African National Congress party to stir support for anti-apartheid activists as they stepped into new roles as leaders trying to heal and develop a divided, impoverished nation.

As he puts it in Conversations, an autobiography of "a freedom fighter must inevitably be influenced by the question whether the revelation of certain facts, however true they may be, will help advance the struggle".

Certainly, the possibility of violence within Mandela's first marriage, to Evelyn Mase, who died in 2004, had no place in the official autobiography. But it has been raised elsewhere, including in Young Mandela, an unauthorized biography by British writer David James Smith that appeared earlier this year.

In Conversations, Mandela puts his version on record. In a transcript of a conversation with Ahmed Kathrada, a friend and fellow veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle who was helping him polish Long Walk, Mandela denies he once tried to choke his first wife. Instead, he said, she threatened to burn him with a red hot poker.

"So I caught hold of her and twisted her arm, enough for me to take this thing out," Mandela says.

"The poker away," Kathrada responds.

Mandela: "That's all."


1. How old is Nelson Mandela?

2. What country is he the president of?

3. What is the name of the book?


1. 92 years old.

2. South Africa.

3. Conversations with Myself.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Mandela book offers his personal portrait

About the broadcaster:

Mandela book offers his personal portrait

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.