Mandela: A Critical Life (Tom Lodge)

Nelson Mandela, the first African politician to acquire a world following, remains in the 21st century an iconic figure. But what are the sources of his almost mythic appeal? And to what extent did Mandela self-consciously create the status of political hero that he now enjoys? This new and highly revealing biography examines these questions in detail for the first time. Drawing on a range of original sources, it presents a host of fresh insights about the shaping of Mandela’s personality and public persona, from his childhood days and early activism, through his long years of imprisonment, to his presidency of the new South Africa. Throughout, Lodge emphasizes the crucial interplay between Mandela’s public career and his personal or private world, showing how his heroic status was a product both of his leading position within the anti-apartheid movement and his own deliberate efforts to supply a form of quasi-messianic leadership for that movement. And as Lodge shows, Mandela’s huge international appeal is a compelling and unusual cocktail. Of the sacred and the secular. Of traditional African values and global media savvy. And of human vulnerability, interwoven with the grand narrative of liberation.’  Nielsen Bookdata Online

Reverend S Golding has recommended this book for the blog and says that it was ‘A good read!’. 

As Mandela celebrates twenty years of freedom this February, it seems fitting to commemorate his release from prison by reading about his life as well as viewing films such as ‘Invictus’.

You may be interested in the review of this book by Rob Skinner at and the author’s reply at

Do leave your comments here as a discussion would be extremely interesting.

Invictus (a film by Clint Eastwood)

‘From director Clint Eastwood, “Invictus” tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), to help unite their country. 

 Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup Championship match. ‘  Invictusmovie, WarnerBros website

This film is amazing.  Matt Damon, whilst a lot shorter than Francois Pienaar, whom he portrays,  seems to have really got into his character and has taken to the game of rugby in a way hard to imagine that Americans could.  The film shows how Mandela inspired Pienaar to take rugby to all South Africans, not just the white South Africans who had hitherto dominated the game and ultimately bring the country closer together.  It also shows the journey the South African team make as they progress from poor performers to  successful winners.  As a non-rugby player myself, it did help going to see the Saracens play Worcester Warriors at Wembley just before going to watch the film!

Have you seen it?  What do you think? Please leave your comments here…