The critics on Young Mandela

Publishers Weekly

Longtime journalist Smith (One Morning in Sarajevo) digs into newly discovered government documents and firsthand interviews (though none with the supportive but ailing Nelson Mandela himself) in humanizing the iconic leader. Smith ventures deep into the horror of apartheid to trace the burgeoning revolutionary’s philosophical trajectories: from the tribal chauvinism and British “gentleman politics” of the African National Congress through the younger, more insistent elements coalescing around mentor Walter Sisulu to Mandela and the ANC’s own more militant turn under the influence of South Africa’s Indians led by Gandhi, the role of South African Communists, and the pan-Africanism of Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah. What sets this biography apart is its author’s emphasis on Mandela’s character and associations in the development of his political career, from boyhood through the Rivonia Trial of 1963–1964; as well as the impact of politics on his personal life, from first wife Evelyn Mase–heretofore neglected in the historical record–to the “woman of his dreams,” Winnie Madikizela. No hagiography, Smith’s measured study qualifies, lends nuance to, and even contradicts the mythology around Mandela’s background and formative influences.


Latest News

  • The Sleep Of Reason – The James Bulger Case by David James Smith:
    Faber Finds edition with new preface, available September 15th, 2011.

  • Young Mandela the movie – in development.

    From The Guardian
    Read the article

    In the Diary column of The Independent, April 13th, 2011

    More on my previously unsubstantiated claim that the writer-director Peter Kosminsky, creator of The Promise, is working on a drama about Nelson Mandela. I’ve now learnt that the project is a feature film, in development with Film 4, about the young Mandela. Kosminsky is currently at work on the script and, given the complaints about the anti-Jewish bias of The Promise, it is unlikely to be a standard bland portrait of the former South African president.

Latest Review

    New York Times – J. M. Ledgard
  • Nelson Mandela was circumcised as a 16-year-old boy alongside a flowing river in the Eastern Cape. The ceremony was similar to those of other Bantu peoples. An elder moved through the line making ring-like cuts, and foreskins fell away. The boys could not so much as blink; it was a rite of passage that took you beyond pain. read full review

See David James Smith…

Jon Venables: What Went Wrong
BBC 1, 10.35
Thursday, April 21st, 2011