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An unforgettable portrait of one of the most inspiring historical figures of the twentieth century.
First published to mark the centenary of Nelson Mandela's birth, The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela sparked celebrations around the globe. Featuring 94 letters selected from that landmark collection, as well as new introductory material and six new letters that have never been published, this historic paperback provides an essential political history of the late twentieth century and illustrates how Mandela maintained his inner spirit while imprisoned. Whether they are longing love letters to his wife, Winnie; heartrending notes to his beloved children; or articulations of a human-rights philosophy that resonates today, these letters reveal the heroism of a man who refused to compromise his moral values in the face of extraordinary human punishment, invoking a "story beyond their own words" (The New York Times).
This new paperback edition—essential for any literature lover, political activist and student—positions Mandela amongst the most inspiring historical figures of the twentieth century.
“Madiba's words give us a compass in a sea of change. Firm ground amidst swirling currents.” — Barack Obama
“A veritable treasure trove, they grant a forensic insight into his courage, superhuman fortitude and clarity of political judgment; into his agony at failing in his duties as a husband and father of two girls, toddlers when he was snatched away; and his torment at being refused permission to attend either his mother's or his son’s funeral. To me, even as a biographer of Mandela, it is a revelatory volume.” — Peter Hain, The Daily Telegraph
“... this mesmerising book of prison letters... through these compelling letters the thinking, feeling, loving man he was comes back to us.” — Gillian Slovo, The Guardian
“Venter has done an excellent job of sifting through the South African national archives, which alone contain 57 boxes of his prison letters and papers, and smaller collections that are scattered all over the place.” — Ivan Fallon, The Sunday Times
“So much rubbish has been written over the years by those who feared, revered or pretended to know Nelson Mandela that it is useful, finally, to be able to read about him and the privations of his prison years in his own contemporaneous, understated prose.” — The Spectator
“Nelson Mandela’s long, thoughtful letters, written during his 27 years in prison, display an unwavering certainty that change would prevail.” — Tim Adams, Book of the Day, The Guardian
“... as a series of illuminating snapshots into one of the most important political icons of post-colonial Africa, the book will have a timeless value.” — The Irish Times
“Remarkably, this collection only serves to enhance and consolidate Mandela’s reputation as a defining figure of the last century and the present one. The letters are in multiple languages, English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa, but they speak the language of humanity, which is the language of that fraught but loaded prison word: time.” — The Herald
“To commemorate what would have been his 100th birthday, a book of 250 letters has just been published, providing a remarkable insight into the man, his tenacity and endurance and the struggle for his country's freedom.” — The Independent
“A superbly edited collection of the ANC chief's prison letters paint a portrait of Mandela the family man, the political thinker and the inmate... As well as presenting 255 letters across 640 pages here, the South African journalist Sahm Venter does a fine job of putting them into historical context.” — The Irish Independent
“The back cover of The Prison Letters Of Nelson Mandela is adorned with several quotes from the book, all expressing the kind of noble sentiments you might expect from one of the Great Men of History. In fact, though, this is a bit misleading — because, taken as a whole, the book itself gives us a far more rounded, interesting and, above all, human portrait of Mandela than that.” — The Daily Mail
“It may seem unlikely summer reading, nearly 600 pages of letters which Mandela spends trying to sort out problems, whether in the prison—he refused to take a blanket when only he was allowed one—or with the ANC or his family who were often in turmoil. But they are utterly gripping, inspiring and often mind-boggling. How did he remain calm, just and loving in such circumstances?” — Rachel Billington, The Tablet
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