Home > Categories > Books > Kids - General > Nelson Mandela: No Easy Walk to Freedom review
This is the most up-to-date biography of Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous freedom fighters in the world.
This powerful biography provides an in-depth look at Nelson Mandela who grew up in a rural village in South Africa under racist apartheid rule - a regime he ultimately helped overthrow.
Denenberg explores the history of South Africa and its often violent struggle for civil rights, while tracing Mandela's role in that history. Lawyer, leader of the African National Congress, political prisoner who spent 26 years in jail, president - no one else has had such enormous influence on his fellow South Africans. Even beyond South Africa Nelson Mandela has influenced freedom fighters everywhere.
This latest biography traces Mandela's complete life story.
I am a huge fan of Nelson Mandela, and the legacy he left behind, so was over joyed to win a copy of this book from KIWIreviews. Although a huge fan, this is only the second book I have read about Nelson Mandela, but I must admit I much preferred this one to the other one I was luck enough to read. Within the first few pages, I was already learning so much about this great man, and about the trials and tribulations that the people of South Africa battled.
Nelson Mandela was a great great man, and this book portrays that to the best of its ability in such a small book. There is so much more of this story that could have been told, but pages are limited lol. However No Easy Walk to Freedom covers all the main events briefly but with enough detail for one to comprehend the horror that was bestowed upon South Africa. The story is over-whelming, often sad, and although the outcome a truly amazing and inspiring one, it is hard to feel the joy that I am sure South Africa felt at the time, because the horror, and violence endured by many is just so over whelming.
I agree with other reviewers in that the first part of the book was more to my liking and much more enjoyable to read. I want to know about South Africa and the segregation, but when I read a book about Nelson Mandela, I really want to read as much as I can about him. I want to know what he felt, how he felt, what he endured and so much more. I want to read more about his time incarcerated. There was so much I wanted to read about that was not covered. And there was to much about politics in the second half. I felt some of it to be a bit drawn out.
I thoroughly enjoyed the quotes and photos of Nelson Mandela and many other important people from that error. I also really enjoyed the chronology and the copies of the articles from times during the Nelson Mandela era. There is still so much to learn, but for what this book was I personally enjoyed it, and still learned so very much from it. With a RRP of around $12 it is worth every penny.
I was lucky enough to win this book in a KIWIreviews competition, and put it to good use, keeping me entertained during a couple of domestic flights The two 45 minute trips were sufficient for me to read this book from cover to cover.
A great concise little book that attempts to cover the entire life of a man, who will forever be remembered for his positive effects on racism and segregation in South Africa. I personally found it very informative. While it had been simplified to allow a young child to read it, it did not hide the facts, nor did it try to hide any of the violence, which I honestly found refreshing. What better time to teach children the importance of standing up for human rights, than in their early years. Delving not only into the political lives, but also into the personal lives of the Mandela family, there is a wide body of information.
I will admit that the second half of the book was a little bit harder to enjoy, than the first. We spent the first 99 or so pages, learning about Nelson Mandela's up bringing, and his hardships, his movement from legal to "illegal" methods, but after his incarceration, the book ignored Mandela and switched more to the general anti-segregation movement,and the other major players in the political anarchy. There was in fact very little that directly involved Mandela in the second half, with a lot more focus on the competition, and the indirect effects of Mandela's efforts.
Still a great read, and I love that it is aimed at the younger generation, but I feel it is more of a general coverage of the anti-apartheid movement, not so much a true biography of Mandela.
Within the first couple of chapters of this book I had already found out many things I didn't know about Mandela and the political situation in South Africa. I have an interest in history but have never really learned too much about Mandela (perhaps a few faint memories from my early high school years!), so this book was a perfect opportunity to build on my very basic collection of knowledge on this subject matter.
I found a few of the early chapters a bit hard to read as I had no prior knowledge at all about the early history in South Africa and they were events before Mandela was born. They were important scene setting chapters, which make sense to me after reading the book but I got a little lost while reading them initially. I found the chapters about Mandela and events throughout his life the most interesting to me. In particular the chapters that introduced us to the man he was and his interactions with other people and groups.
I found that the book was just the right length to keep my interest. I love knowledge, but I am not into reading really long, in-depth books. The chapters were a nice length and I was able to fit the odd chapter in at various times in the day. With young children to look after, I don't have an excessive amount of time to sit and read for myself. This is a good introduction to Mandela and the history of South Africa. The book followed an almost chronological format and this made it easy to follow the historical events and their current implications. As I said, it was perfect for me. My husband, however, who already had a very good knowledge of Mandela, South Africa and the political situation, found that the book lacked detail and substance that he would have expected from a book about Mandela. I would imagine he would need a book that was much longer than the 200 odd pages in this book to cover the information he expected. It is always interesting to see someone else's perspective on a book like this.
The detailed chronology at the back of the book was helpful to refer to after reading the book as it gave me a chance to revisit parts of the story that I hadn't quite picked up on while reading it.
I liked the way that the book incorporated many quotes from Nelson Mandela. I think that these quotes add to the reality of the events in the book. It is nice to hear words straight from the mouth of such an influential person in today's world.
My four year old wanted to know what I was reading and I told him it was about a man called Nelson Mandela who fought for freedom in his country. Master 4 asked more and more questions and I found that I had to work out how to simplify the whole book to the concepts of a 4 year old. Surprisingly enough, this was possible and I think I managed to get the main points of the book without having to go into unsuitable information. I think that this discussion will continue for a while until Master 4 has gained the knowledge he wants from me!
By the end of the book, I had pieced together a lot of bits of knowledge I held prior to reading the book. There are many things that I had never attributed to the life of Mandela or even to South Africa. These things are now linked to each other in my knowledge.
Reading this book has made me stop and think about how one person can change the big things in life. I feel so lucky that I have never had to fight for the basic rights that I enjoy in my life and think back to the past about the people who may have stood up and risked their lives to give me the freedom that my family and I have. It is so hard to believe that the apartheid as only just being abolished in my late high school years. It is horrible to think that there has been such horrible discrimination in such recent history. After reading the book, I am left feeling a sense of awe at the people who fought for the freedom of their people. I am shocked at the number of people who were imprisoned and/or died for such basic human rights.
Those of us fortunate enough to grow up in New Zealand today really don't know how good we have got it until we read a book like Barry Denenburg's biography of Nelson Mandela. In this book he really portrayed the struggles not only Mandela had to go through but that of his family and every black South African simply because to their ethnicity. Scholastic promote this book as being aimed for eight years plus but I would say intermediate age through to adult. As an adult reading this I received a lot of insight into Mandela as well as the South Africa of the past and present. It helps to explain why white South African's (like Oscar Pistorius who is currently on trial for murder) would keep loaded guns by their bed and live in gated communities.
Although this is Mandela's biography there are several chapters in the book that don't even mention him. This covers the history from when the whites first arrived through to his birth. There is also chapters about what was happening in the rest of South Africa while Mandela spent those long years in prison. There is certainly more focus on his relationship with his second wife, Winnie, and their two daughters than there was on his first wife and their three children (in fact these children's names were never mentioned).
I found myself questioning what I would do if I was in a situation that the black South Africans were in. Would I risk my life and the very strong possibility of being imprisoned and my children left without me? I have friends (both black and white) that have lived in South Africa and they have only touched on the struggles, what they went through that they haven't shared with me is so much more. This book was a real eyeopener of how harsh life really was.
Mandela has always been painted as a hero by the media outside of South Africa and for that reason that is how I have always viewed him. Reading about what he went through it is surprising that he lived to be ninety-five with the lack of nutrition and medical care. In this book the author also talks of Mandela's routines of daily exercise and education both which would have helped him to maintain his strong will to fight for racial equality.
I found this book to be a very interesting and compelling read although I did find it hard to follow at times because it wasn't always in chronological order. There is a chronology at the back of the book that I referred to regularly which helped me to sequence events in relation to each other. The contents also came in useful when I wanted to refer back to people or events.We warned people of my generation you will have The Specials' song "Free Nelson Mandela" running through your head as you are reading this even though it is never referred to.
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