As Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the ensuing years saw the collapse of South Africa's apartheid regime, John Carlin ('one of the great post-apartheid chroniclers' Financial Times) was the South Africa correspondent of London's Independent newspaper. In his acclaimed Playing the Enemy (filmed by Clint Eastwood as Invictus) he told the story of Mandela's role in the Rugby World Cup of 1990, when Mandela's political genius transformed a sporting event into a moment that defined, unforgettably, a new nation.
In his new book, Carlin now offers an illuminating and inspiring personal account of the iconic figure who has come both to define post-apartheid South Africa and to represent the possibility of a moral politics to the world at large.
Knowing Mandela focuses on the years from 1990 to 1995, when Mandela faced his most daunting obstacles and achieved his greatest triumphs; it was the time when the full flower of his genius as a political leader was most vividly on display. Carlin spent those years reporting on Mandela's feats, trials and tribulations and was one of the few foreign journalists in South Africa to cover both his release from prison and his accession to the presidency four years later.
Drawing on conversations with Mandela and interviews with people close to him, Carlin has crafted a remarkable account of a man who is as flawed as he is gifted, neither superman nor saint. Knowing Mandela offers a profound understanding of the man and what has made him the towering moral and political figure of our age.