Conversations With Myself

Paperback | September 27, 2011

byNelson MandelaForeword byBarack Obama

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"[These] archives contain traces of my life and those who have lived it with me. Anyone who has explored the world of archives will know that it is a treasure house, one that is full of surprises, crossing paths, dead ends, painful reminders and unanswered questions."
—Nelson R. Mandela

Nelson Mandela has written almost every day of his long life (he's now 91 years old): notebooks, jottings, drafts of letters to heads of state; and perhaps most movingly of all, letters from his long imprisonment on Robben Island, most of which, tragically, were never passed on to their recipients. Conversations with Myself is a very personal book - a book of private thoughts and lessons learned; but, as we have come to expect from the great man, the sense of hope and gentle wisdom that shines from these letters and diaries make this a book for everyone - a chance to share Mandela's recollections of a long life, fully lived.


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"[These] archives contain traces of my life and those who have lived it with me. Anyone who has explored the world of archives will know that it is a treasure house, one that is full of surprises, crossing paths, dead ends, painful reminders and unanswered questions."—Nelson R. MandelaNelson Mandela has written almost every day of his ...

NELSON MANDELA was born in Transkei, South Africa on 18 July, 1918. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party's apartheid policies after 1948 before being arrested in August 1962. In November 1962 he was sentenced to five years in prison and started serving his sente...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 9.01 × 6 × 0.99 inPublished:September 27, 2011Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385669933

ISBN - 13:9780385669931

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FOREWORD Like many people around the world, I came to know of Nelson Mandela from a distance, when he was imprisoned on Robben Island. To so many of us, he was more than just a man – he was a symbol of the struggle for justice, equality, and dignity in South Africa and around the globe. His sacrifice was so great that it called upon people everywhere to do what they could on behalf of human progress. In the most modest of ways, I was one of those people who  tried to answer his call. The first time that I became politically active was during my college years, when I joined a campaign on behalf of divestment, and the effort to end apartheid in South Africa. None of the personal obstacles that I faced as a young man could compare to what the victims of apartheid experienced every day, and I could only imagine the courage that had led Mandela to occupy that prison cell for so many years. But his example helped awaken me to the wider world, and the obligation that we all have to stand up for what is right. Through his choices, Mandela made it clear that we did not have to accept the world as it is – that we could do our part to seek the world as it should be. Over the years, I continued to watch Nelson Mandela with a sense of admiration and humility, inspired by the sense of possibility that his own life demonstrated and awed by the sacrifices necessary to achieve his dream of justice and equality. Indeed, his life tells a story that stands in direct opposition to the cynicism and hopelessness that so often afflicts our world. A prisoner became a free man; a liberation figure became a passionate voice for reconciliation; a party leader became a president who advanced democracy and development. Out of formal office, Mandela continues to work for equality, opportunity and human dignity. He has done so much to change his country, and the world, that it is hard to imagine the history of the last several decades without him. A little more than two decades after I made my first foray into political life and the divestment movement as a college student in California, I stood in Mandela’s former cell in Robben Island. I was a newly elected United States Senator. By then, the cell had been transformed from a prison to a monument to the sacrifice that was made by so many on behalf of South Africa’s peaceful transformation. Standing there in that cell, I tried to transport myself back to those days when President Mandela was still Prisoner 466/64 – a time when the success of his struggle was by no means a certainty. I tried to imagine Mandela – the legend who had changed history – as Mandela the man who had sacrificed so much for change. Conversations with Myself does the world an extraordinary service in giving us that picture of Mandela the man. By offering us his journals, letters, speeches, interviews, and other papers from across so many decades, it gives us a glimpse into the life that Mandela lived – from the mundane routines that helped to pass the time in prison, to the decisions that he made as President. Here, we see him as a scholar and politician; as a family man and friend; as a visionary and pragmatic leader. Mandela titled his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. Now, this volume helps us recreate the different steps – as well as the detours – that he took on that journey. By offering us this full portrait, Nelson Mandela reminds us that he has not been a perfect man. Like all of us, he has his flaws. But it is precisely those imperfections that should inspire each and every one of us. For if we are honest with ourselves, we know that we all face struggles that are large and small, personal and political – to overcome fear and doubt; to keep working when the outcome of our struggle is not certain; to forgive others and to challenge ourselves. The story within this book – and the story told by Mandela’s life – is not one of infallible human beings and inevitable triumph. It is the story of a man who was willing to risk his own life for what he believed in, and who worked hard to lead the kind of life that would make the world a better place. In the end, that is Mandela’s message to each of us. All of us face days when it can seem like change is hard – days when our opposition and our own imperfections may tempt us to take an easier path that avoids our responsibilities to one another. Mandela faced those days as well. But even when little sunlight shined into that Robben Island cell, he could see a better future – one worthy of sacrifice. Even when faced with the temptation to seek revenge, he saw the need for reconciliation, and the triumph of principle over mere power. Even when he had earned his rest, he still sought – and seeks – to inspire his fellow men and women to service. Prior to my election as President of the United States, I had the great privilege of meeting Mandela, and since taking office I have spoken with him occasionally by phone. The conversations are usually brief – he is in the twilight of his years, and I am faced with the busy schedule that comes with my office. But always, in those conversations, there are moments when the kindness, and generosity, and wisdom of the man shines through. Those are the moments when I am reminded that underneath the history that has been made, there is a human being who chose hope over fear – progress over the prisons of the past. And I am reminded that even as he has become a legend, to know the man – Nelson Mandela – is to respect him even more.  President Barack ObamaFrom the Hardcover edition.