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A new, comprehensive biography of South Africa's leader achieves that rare distinction of making both the man and his times come vibrantly alive in a work that is notably incisive and perceptive. The author, British academic and journalist Meredith, who has written widely on South Africa, details Mandela's remarkable life with admirable fairness and an appreciation of South Africa's complex history. He is also as quick to note Mandela's missteps (his condoning of Libya's policies and his long toleration of Winnie Mandela's association with criminals) as to record those extraordinary acts that changed history: his decision to work with former president de Klerk and his emphasis on peaceful reconciliation. Meredith not only records the facts of Mandela's life up to the present, but shows how they shaped him. Luck played its usual role, but ultimately it was the discipline first learned as a young boy observing the rules of the tribal court where his chieftain uncle dispensed justice that enabled him to survive prison and emerge unembittered. And it was his passionate hatred of racism—``I hate the practice of racial discrimination, and in my hatred I am sustained by the fact that the overwhelming majority of mankind hate it equally''—that led him to advocate a nonracial society rather than a purely African one. Meredith punctiliously includes the relevant historical background as he notes the familiar milestones: Mandela joining the ANC, the trials, the Robben Island years, the release, the subsequent elections. Meredith suggests that the 1960 Treason Trial marked Mandela's appearance as a future leader. The years since his release have not been untroubled, but for Meredith, Mandela's ``legacy is a country which has experienced greater harmony than at any previous time in its history.'' Not only a moving record of a man whose courage and conviction was so splendidly vindicated by events, but an exemplary work of biography: instructive, illuminating, as well as felicitously written. (b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1998

ISBN: 0-312-18132-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1997

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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