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In His Own Words

By Kader Asmal, David Chidester, and Wilmot James, eds.

    In His Own Word's is a collection of speeches given by Nelson Mandela, peace and freedom advocate and first black president of South Africa, during his 27-year imprisonment, his release, his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, and finally to his inauguration. Edited by Kader Asmal, David Chidester, and Wilmot James, these speeches are arranged by themes close to Mandela's heart: the struggle for freedom, building a nation, providing for the basics (health, education, and protecting culture), children, heroes, and peace. Each of the twelve chapters is introduced by a prominent figure, related to that chapter's theme, who knew Mandela well. These essays are reminiscences of Mandela and what his presence in their world meant to them. Some of the notables are Desmond Tutu discussing religion, Wilmot James talking about the struggle for freedom and equality, and singer Miriam Makeba and comedian Bill Cosby speaking of culture. Kofi Annan and Bill Clinton have added a few thoughts in the two forwards.

    But it is the essays themselves in Mandela's own words, as the title indicates, that paint the most telling portrait of a man who changed his world and still offers hope for the future. For every chapter, there are eight to fifteen speeches that deal with one theme. Each speech and the circumstances in which it is given show the reader how Mandela continued to have faith in the cause, his ideals, and his people. Each speech clearly shows that he indeed embodied the change that he wanted to see happen.

    Whether readers read the book from cover to cover or dip into their favorite issue, Mandela's wisdom shows through. Though Mandela writes of other heroes of the struggle, including Desmond Tutu, it is clear that Mandela himself is truly the hero of the age.

The Book

Little, Brown, and Company / TimeWarner
December 2, 2004
0 316 11019 1
Non-fiction / Misc. / Commentary / Essays
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The Reviewer

Janie Franz
Reviewed 2005
© 2005