Mandela, in his own words

2010-02-10 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Let Freedom Reign: The Words of Nelson Mandela

Henry Russell (editor)

Zebra Press

THIS is an attractive small hard­cover, containing excerpts from speeches by Nelson Mandela.

There is nothing new, but the book serves as a user-friendly introduction to the man, particularly in a year when, we hope, the country will see plenty of foreign visitors, some of whom might want a more lasting memento than their tickets to a ­soccer match.

Andr é Brink has contributed a moving introduction in which he lauds Mandela for the way in which he dealt with the expectations that had been raised during the 27 years of his imprisonment, and shows how this extraordinary man never quite bought into the myth of himself, and how his self-effacement has made that myth all the greater.

Henry Russell contextualises the excerpts he has chosen, showing how skilfully Mandela has suited his style to each occasion. It makes for a readable, useable book, and even if it is jumping onto a couple of ­bandwagons — the Fifa Soccer World Cup and the 20th anniversary of Mandela’s release from jail — it is none the worse for that.

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