The critics on Young Mandela

Booklist (journal of the American Library Association) – Hazel Rochman

Neither saint nor icon, South Africa’s world-famous leader is still very much a hero in this close-up dramatic biography, both personal and political, about his activist years in the underground before he was sentenced to life in prison. Readers will want to read this one not only because British journalist Smith integrates all the histories and biographies out there but also because he includes his own current interviews with many witnesses not much heard before, including those who worked with Mandela in the lawyer’s offices in Johannesburg and those who hid him when he went underground as the Black Pimpernel and played the “houseboy” on a big fancy estate. Of course, the political history is front and center, whether it is the prejudice Mandela experienced growing up under apartheid, his journey as leader to get support from other African countries, or the intense debate when the ANC moved from passive resistance to armed struggle. And the interviews add lots of new personal material—not only gossip (yes, he may have been a womanizer) but also the romance, bitterness, and sacrifice of the hero’s families.


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