Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mandela's Way; Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage

by Richard Stengel

7-27 July, 2010. 245 pages.
What took so long for me was because I kept postponing and only reading it between waiting time for KTM and LRT etc. Though if read continuously I assume it would take around 4-5 hours.
Language is easy to understand with a few difficult words aptly used, without actually interfering with the flow of reading. Fonts are big and easy to read, which is a good thing for a semi-biography.

Like what is written on the title, the book is about "lessons" that the writer, Richard Stengel, understood after spending three years in the company of the ex-leader of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. This book is not a biography of him, rather insights into his characteristic and way of thinking.

If to put it bluntly, the "lessons" are all mostly known to us or even regularly preached by parents, teachers and others. However I personally feel that the book really managed to convey its message solely because the person that the book is modeled upon really practices it. Lesson no 13 for example, "Quitting is leading too", where Nelson Mandela resign from the office after around 5 years of service. This is not something easily done for let us imagine if we were to be elected as the prime minister, would we really relinquish the title when the time comes. Well, he did. And that makes all the sense for the book.

Truthfully before reading the book I only have a vague knowledge(now only slightly better) of the history and situation of South Africa. I did watch "Invictus", a film about how Nelson Mandela used rugby to unite the country, but other than that what I knew about apartheid was that it is abolished and the system abused the natives. This book fortunately fills the gap, as the writer narrates a "lesson" by referring to Mandela's action in some part of his life, which thankfully helps readers like me(or you) to understand his background and also the history of the country.

All in all, it's a good book despite quite short but the messages came across quite clearly I think due to the subject of the book. Thank you to person who gave me this book, for I wouldn't read if I were to choose it myself. Thank you!

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