Speaking Volumes: Celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela

Special to the HeraldMay 4, 2014 

It's said that building a life after prison could be a great challenge. Making a positive impact on society is even harder. Not only did Nelson Mandela succeed, he made history. His 27 years in a prison some deemed "a wind-scorched Alcatraz off the Cape coast," didn't limit his ability to inspire his fellow countrymen and millions more across the globe.

Twenty years ago, on May 10, 1994, Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's first black president. The ceremony was attended by 4,000 people, including world leaders, and was reportedly televised to a billion people. In honor of this historic event, Manatee County Public Libraries welcomes you to take a look back and celebrate the life of the former president.

The library system offers a number of books that captures Mandela's life story. Mandela, himself an author, wrote several autobiographies, "Conversations with Myself" is the most recent. With a foreword by President Barack Obama, the book presents personal notes from Mandela's imprisonment along with journal entries during the time he was on the run during the antiapartheid struggle. Also included is a draft of what would have been a sequel to his first autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom." That book is also in our collection.

Another title that stands out is "Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage" by Richard Stengel. Prefaced by Mandela, the book combines many hours of intimate conversations between Time magazine's editor Stengel and Mandela into 15 essential life lessons. For three years, Stengel traveled with Mandela and collaborated with him for one of his autobiographies. The book tracks Stengel's journey to know the man who would ultimately become a friend and colleague.

Author Anthony Sampson knew Mandela since 1951. In "Mandela: The Authorized Biography," Sampson focuses on the person that very few people experienced behind-the-scenes. Over the years, he interviewed Mandela's closest relatives and friends, including former classmates and Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie. With Mandela's full cooperation, Sampson was allowed access to some of Mandela's most personal documents, including 27 years' worth of unpublished prison correspondence.

Other titles that may pique your interest are Mandela's own "In His Own Words" and "Mandela: A Critical Life" by Tom Lodge.

For anyone interested in teaching their children about the former African president, we offer several children's books including "Nelson Mandela: No Easy Walk to Freedom" by Barry Denenberg, "Nelson Mandela: A Voice Set Free" by Rebecca Stefoff and "Nelson Mandela: Words and Paintings" by Kadir Nelson.

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