Whether providing unwavering support to his also-imprisoned wife or outlining a human-rights philosophy that resonates today, The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela reveals the heroism of a man who refused to compromise his moral values in the face of extraordinary punishment. Ultimately, these letters position Mandela as one of the most inspiring figures of the twentieth century.
Heartbreaking and inspiring ... This book confronts readers with the most direct evidence yet of Mandela’s intellectual evolution into one of the great moral heroes of our time ... With words as his only ammunition, Mandela fought his case patiently, on lined paper, his eloquence inseparable from his rectitude.
Nelson Mandela’s long, thoughtful letters, written during his 27 years in prison, display an unwavering certainty that change would prevail ... Even in the knowledge that he was often writing into darkness, he kept up that most reasonable and patient of voices – rarely acknowledging anger, even less despair ... In his letters he is at pains to inhabit his roles as father and husband and son and uncle and friend, just as surely as if he were a free man ... Mandela’s written rhetoric was so seductive, even he was in thrall to it.
These letters were a lifeline ... Sahm Venter's collection of Mandela’s prison letters, which has taken almost ten years to collate, is inspiring, heartbreaking, funny and occasionally dull. It enriches rather than transforms our understanding of one of the world’s most hallowed statesmen, who became South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994 ... The letters, presented chronologically, are interspersed with 'reader-friendly' explanations and footnotes to remind us who is who in the cast of cousins, kings, friends and family known by a raft of nicknames. At its best, this is a book of Nelson Mandela’s wisdom; a tribute to positive thinking. Yet at 600 pages, nearly as long as his Long Walk to Freedom, it is a formidable read and probably best enjoyed, as Venter suggests, by dipping in and out many times.