In 1918 Nelson Mandela was born, the son of a tribal chief in the Xhosa nation. In 1994 has was elected the first black president of a South Africa newly free of apartheid. In the 76 intervening years, Mandela's path was the path of his pepole and his country: painful, obstacle-ridden, often seemingly impassable. Here the leader of black South Africans' fight for freedom details each step of that journey. He writes with respect and affection of the traditional culture in which he was raised, even of his ritual circumcision at the age of 16; and he describes with dispassion the events that aided his growing politicization, such as the failed miners' strike of 1946; his quest for dignity even while imprisoned on Robben Island; and the dramatic negotiations with then president F.W. De Klerk that culminated in a peaceful revolution in South Africa. This memoir is remarkably free of polemics, self-pity, and self-aggrandizement It is the work ofo a man who has led by action and example -- a man who is one of the few genuine heroes we have.