Lessons for an Uncertain Age
A compact, profoundly inspiring book that captures the spirit of Nelson Mandela, distilling the South African leader’s wisdom into 15 vital life lessons
We long for heroes and have too few. Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013 at the age of ninety-five, is the closest thing the world has to a secular saint. He liberated a country from a system of violent prejudice and helped unite oppressor and oppressed in a way that had never been done before.
Now Richard Stengel, the editor of Time magazine, has distilled countless hours of intimate conversation with Mandela into fifteen essential life lessons. For nearly three years, including the critical period when Mandela moved South Africa toward the first democratic elections in its history, Stengel collaborated with Mandela on his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, and traveled with him everywhere. Eating with him, watching him campaign, hearing him think out loud, Stengel came to know all the different sides of this complex man and became a cherished friend and colleague.
In Mandela’s Way, Stengel recounts the moments in which “the grandfather of South Africa” was tested and shares the wisdom he learned: why courage is more than the absence of fear, why we should keep our rivals close, why the answer is not always either/or but often “both,” how important it is for each of us to find something away from the world that gives us pleasure and satisfaction—our own garden. Woven into these life lessons are remarkable stories—of Mandela’s childhood as the protégé of a tribal king, of his early days as a freedom fighter, of the twenty-seven-year imprisonment that could not break him, and of his fulfilling remarriage at the age of eighty.
This uplifting book captures the spirit of this extraordinary man—warrior, martyr, husband, statesman, and moral leader—and spurs us to look within ourselves, reconsider the things we take for granted, and contemplate the legacy we’ll leave behind.
After spending two years with Nelson Mandela collaborating on his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, author and Time managing editor Stengel (You're Too Kind) felt that leaving Mandela's side "was like the sun going out of my life." In 15 compelling chapters, Stengel uses his inside perspective and more than 70 hours of taped interviews to distill wisdom from "the grandfather of South Africa," who recently turned 91, while also recounting stories from Mandela's childhood, his days as a revolutionary, his 27-year imprisonment, and his time negotiating for the country's first democratic elections. Stengel also explores Mandela's romantic relationships, including his three wives (the latest of whom, Graca Machel, he married at age 80). It's the intersection of Mandela's personal life with his part in world history that makes this portrait so vivid and compelling; indeed, the personal role he's played in Stengel's life (it was Mandela who urged Stengel to marry his wife; he became godfather to Stengel's first son) lend the volume's self-help aspects real resonance. Peeling back the many layers of Mandela's life, Stengel provides a clear view of Mandela's legacy and the lessons he has to teach.
Very informative and inspirational.
I could not put this book down once I started reading it until I finished it. The book is captivating and I cannot remember any other book that I have read that compares to it. I will put the lessons that I learnt in the book to good use in my everyday life. Thank you for the excellent book.
Oyekunle Muraina, MD
Leader by example
To develop yourself as a leader one of the many steps you have to take is to learn from the leaders and there is no doubt that Mandela is a historical leader!!! Great book!!!