Nelson Mandela: A Very Short Introduction

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 8/1/2008
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

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Nelson Mandela--is it possible to say who or what he is? Yes, he was one of the world's longest-detained political prisoners. He is a universal symbol of social justice certainly; an exemplary figure connoting non-racialism and democracy; a moral giant. For years a man cut off from the world, Mandela became after his 1994 release an internationally recognizable icon. But why should his story be important to us in the world at large today? What do his achievements signify not only nationally in South Africa but also internationally? This book is about the different, interconnected stories, histories, values and symbols that Nelson Mandela embodies. Across his life Mandela has filled a rich range of roles: handsome city-slicker, dashing guerrilla, the millennial saviour figure. By examining these different roles as well as the principles which lie behind and motivate them, this Very Short Introduction presents an analytical portrait of a shape-shifting life. Set within a biographical frame, the book offers a more deeply personal analysis of Mandela than biographies centred on the towering public figure have been able provide.

Author Biography

Elleke Boehmer is Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

Childhood and Education
Political and Professional Apprenticeship
Defiance and Guerilla Warfare
Terms of Trial and the Making of a Hero
Transition Politics and Government
Interpreting Mandela
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