Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson MandelaRead about the other books on the list.
This 1994 autobiography tells the story of Mandela's life: including his early years, beginning in 1918, Transkei; his career as a lawyer and then as an African National Congress leader; a recounting of his 27 years in prison (this comprises about a third of the book); an examination of the toll being separated for so many years from his wife and children took on him; and on up to to Mandela's inauguration as president of South Africa on May 10, 1994.
The book also describes the remarkable journey Mandela made from being considered a problem by the South African government to being embraced as a great leader by the nation's people.
Mandela's story is stirring and some of his most-frequently-quoted words have been drawn from "Long Walk to Freedom." Here are a few favorite passages from Mandela's autobiography:
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
“A leader ... is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
Long Walk to Freedom is on Don Mullan's top ten list of books on heroes and Sammy Perlmutter's five best list of books from Nobel winners who didn't win their medal for literature.