The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela

The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela

Book - 2018
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WW Norton
One of NPR's Great Reads of 2018
Arrested in 1962 as South Africa’s apartheid regime intensified its brutal campaign against political opponents, forty-four-year-old lawyer and African National Congress activist Nelson Mandela had no idea that he would spend the next twenty-seven years in jail. During his 10,052 days of incarceration, the future leader of South Africa wrote a multitude of letters to unyielding prison authorities, fellow activists, government officials, and, most memorably, to his courageous wife, Winnie, and his five children. Now, 255 of these letters, many of which have never been published, provide exceptional insight into how Mandela maintained his inner spirits while living in almost complete isolation, and how he engaged with an outside world that became increasingly outraged by his plight.The Prison Letters of Nelson MandelaWith accompanying facsimiles of some of his actual letters, this landmark volume reveals how Mandela, a lawyer by training, advocated for prisoners’ human rights. It reveals him to be a loving father, who wrote to his daughter, “I sometimes wish science could invent miracles and make my daughter get her missing birthday cards and have the pleasure of knowing that her Pa loves her,” aware that photos and letters he sent had simply disappeared.More painful still are the letters written in 1969, when Mandela—forbidden from attending the funerals of his mother and his son Thembi—was reduced to consoling family members through correspondence. Yet, what emerges most powerfully is Mandela’s unfaltering optimism: “Honour belongs to those who never forsake the truth even when things seem dark & grim, who try over and & over again, who are never discouraged by insults, humiliation & even defeat.”The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela “A new world will be won not by those who stand at a distance with their arms folded, but by those who are in the arena, whose garments are torn by storms & whose bodies are maimed in the course of contest.”“I am convinced that floods of personal disaster can never drown a determined revolutionary nor can the cumulus of misery that accompanies tragedy suffocate him.”“My respect for human beings is based, not on the colour of a man’s skin nor authority he may wield, but purely on merit.”“A good pen can also remind us of the happiest moments in our lives, bring noble ideas into our dens, our blood & our souls. It can turn tragedy into hope & victory.”

Baker & Taylor
More than two hundred of the anti-apartheid champion's letters, written during his twenty-seven year incarceration, convey his perspectives on such subjects as his wife's imprisonment, the death of his son, and human rights.

Book News
This volume collects 255 letters written by Nelson Mandela to prison authorities, activists, government officials, and his wife and children while he was incarcerated for 27 years. Many previously unpublished, the letters are organized chronologically and by the four venues in which he was held: Pretoria Local Prison, Robben Island Prison, Pollsmoor Prison, and Victor Verster Prison. Some facsimiles are included. Annotation ©2019 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

Published on the centenary of his birth, a selection of 255 of the anti-apartheid champion's letters, written during his incarceration, convey his intimate perspectives on such subjects as his wife's imprisonment, the death of his son and human rights.

Publisher: New York :, Liveright Publishing Corporation, A Division of W. W. Norton & Company,, 2018
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781631491177
Branch Call Number: BIO Mandela MAN
Characteristics: xv, 620 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations (some colour), map ;,25 cm


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