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By History on 11-17-11
Surprisingly honest autobiography.
If the material itself were a little more "audio friendly," this would get 5 stars, but there are just way too many hours of names, dates and places. Some section are virtually just lists of events and who participated ... too much to make this an entirely enthralling listening experience. Regardless, it has much to recommend it and I do highly recommend it.
Michael Boatman does a very credible South African accent, although it slips away and then comes back at odd intervals. However, he puts a a lot of effort into properly pronouncing some difficult names and words in a language most non-Africans can't say at all, much less correctly. Moreover, he has a beautiful voice and does a fine acting job with material which gets very dry for extended periods.
This book is full of contradictions. In sections consisting of "lists," I gave up trying to remember exactly who was who and waited for the story to resume, letting my brain drift through details I could not follow .You may well want to read this book again in print. It is impossible to absorb or remember it all just listening to it.
The overall story is fascinating. Amazing. Nelson Mandela does a beautiful job of explaining this intricate and contradictory ... and crazily complex ... society where nothing is simple and not to be punny, nothing is black and white. There are villains and heroes, but plenty of shades of gray too. Everyone is human and multi-faceted.
Considering his own role in the story, Mandela is relentlessly honest. He does not use his book to excuse his own bad behavior. He is imperfect and takes responsibility for his actions, good and bad. He also takes credit and is not quite the humble fellow portrayed in movies and press. He's a proud man who worked hard and paid a heavy price to accomplish something no one believed possible. While he does not make himself out to be a super hero, he IS a hero ... in my opinion more heroic because of his fallibility and willingness to learn from errors. It is refreshing. Honesty is uncommon in political autobiographies.
So despite the fact that there are sections of material that make pretty dull listening, if you wait, the scene will shift and suddenly, there's tension and excitement. The story of how this strange nation emerged from the darkness into light is probably unique in human history and definitely worth listening to. If you have any interest at all in Africa, or even a mild curiosity, you should read it. I learned so much I will need to read it again. \
It's possibly the strangest combination of social groupings anyone could imagine. Melding them into a nation without the obvious huge obstacle of Apartheid would have been difficult. Given the realities, it is astounding that this is a success story. It boggles the mind.
From the point of view of production, it's very smooth with a nice use of occasional music for punctuation. Very well done all around.
44 of 45 people found this review helpful
By Nothing really matters on 03-20-14
Great book, great narration.
When I started this book, I thought "Wow, a 27-hour long book! I'll probably be sick of it by the end." But, in fact I found myself wish it had been much more detailed and much longer.
Nelson Mandela's life makes for a fascinating and inspiring story.
Michael Boatman's performance was amazing. Most of the time, it felt as it was Nelson Mandela himself talking.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful