: Playing the enemy: nelson mandela and the game tha (9781594201745) : John Carlin : Books
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Playing The Enemy: Nelson Mandela And The Game Tha

by John Carlin
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The
  • Publishing date: 14/08/2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781594201745
  • ISBN: 1594201749


A thrilling, inspiring account of one of the greatest charm offensives in history—Nelson Mandela’s decade-long campaign to unite his country, beginning in his jail cell and ending with a rugby tournament

In 1985, Nelson Mandela, then in prison for twenty-three years, set about winning over the fiercest proponents of apartheid, from his jailers to the head of South Africa’s military. First he earned his freedom and then he won the presidency in the nation’s first free election in 1994. But he knew that South Africa was still dangerously divided by almost fifty years of apartheid. If he couldn’t unite his country in a visceral, emotional way—and fast—it would collapse into chaos. He would need all the charisma and strategic acumen he had honed during half a century of activism, and he’d need a cause all South Africans could share. Mandela picked one of the more farfetched causes imaginable—the national rugby team, the Springboks, who would host the sport’s World Cup in 1995.

Against the giants of the sport, the Springboks’ chances of victory were remote. But their chances of capturing the hearts of most South Africans seemed remoter still, as they had long been the embodiment of white supremacist rule. During apartheid, the all-white Springboks and their fans had belted out racist fight songs, and blacks would come to Springbok matches to cheer for whatever team was playing against them. Yet Mandela believed that the Springboks could embody—and engage—the new South Africa. And the Springboks themselves embraced the scheme. Soon South African TV would carry images of the team singing “Nkosi Sikelele Afrika,” the longtime anthem of black resistance to apartheid.

As their surprising string of victories lengthened, their home-field advantage grew exponentially. South Africans of every color and political stripe found themselves falling for the team. When the Springboks took to the field for the championship match against New Zealand’s heavily favored squad, Mandela sat in his presidential box wearing a Springbok jersey while sixty-two-thousand fans, mostly white, chanted “Nelson! Nelson!” Millions more gathered around their TV sets, whether in dusty black townships or leafy white suburbs, to urge their team toward victory. The Springboks won a nail-biter that day, defying the oddsmakers and capping Mandela’s miraculous ten-year-long effort to bring forty-three million South Africans together in an enduring bond.

John Carlin, a former South Africa bureau chief for the London Independent, offers a singular portrait of the greatest statesman of our time in action, blending the volatile cocktail of race, sport, and politics to intoxicating effect. He draws on extensive interviews with Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and dozens of other South Africans caught up in Mandela’s momentous campaign, and the Springboks’ unlikely triumph. As he makes stirringly clear, their championship transcended the mere thrill of victory to erase ancient hatreds and make a nation whole.

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  • Inspired and Inspiring
    From Amazon

    Please read this book. It is not only the story of an inspired leader it inspires to make us makers of peace. You will be informed about Mandela, South Africa and rugby. You will cry all the way through the last third of the book so make sure to have alot of hankies nearby. Mandela is a carismatic person who knows how to manipulate and inspire people to do better than their base instincts would have them do but he is also a cool calculator who knows how to capture the moment and turn it into a pivotal moment for the formation of his countrymen. The author makes it clear in several passages that Mandela has a temper, that he does have deep resenments, he is not a bloodless saint but his conviction that revenge is not the way to forge a country and fix its problems and his self control make him the statesman and person he is. How easy it would have been for a man kept prisoner for so many years to take up the gun instead of the flag of national unity. The proof of Mandela's theory has been watching South Africa play with a national team in the latest soccer championships held in South Africa. They almost won.

  • An absolute must read
    From Amazon

    I just finished Playing the Enemy. It was among the best I have ever read and left me wanting more. Uplifting as well as educational. Buy it.

  • An Inspiring read
    From Amazon

    This is a book that truly inspires. I think the author wants to deliberately focus on the Rugby World Cup of 1995 and the rapprochement that it wrought between ordinary black and white South Africans. He chooses to completely disregard the Inkatha-ANC violence in the context of a power shift and focuses on how Mandela won the white South Africans over to the idea of a "rainbow nation". Reading these books makes you want to cry out for the same sensibility in other societies torn by violence and hatred. I think this group of folks who formed the first government of post-apartheid South Africa were an absolutely exceptional group. Walter Sisulu, Bishop Tutu, Cyril Ramaphosa, Uncle Thabo et al are very good folks compared to the surrounding statesmen of Africa. Of course, Mandiba Mandela's role was the key to the thaw in relations between the various white and black communities. Back to the book at hand. It is a truly inspiring work that seeks to look at various personalities at all levels of society in South Africa and explains their transformation in their own words. Read this and go to sleep dreaming better dreams. Tomorrow will look rosier...

  • The Human Factor
    From Amazon

    John Carlin's work is a thrilling, spine-tingling effort. Most of the book's protagonists can't recall their meetings with Nelson Mandela in regards to 1995's Rugby World Cup without breaking into tears. Carlin's genius is to make you see why this is the natural reaction. Here's a man who, as one player aptly puts it "spent 27 years in prison and came out with love and friendship. All that washed over me, that huge realization, and the tears just rolled down my face." Though Mandela is as close as there is to a god walking this earth, it's his one-on-one people skills that take the day. His will is to win them over, one person at a time. That's why Clint Eastwood has named his upcoming film of this book "The Human Factor" (Morgan Freeman as Mandela, Matt Damon as Springbok captain Francois Pienaar).

  • An amazing account of an amazing man
    From Amazon

    As one who has studied South African politics and is well aware of the significance of the 2005 world cup, I was very eager to read this book. Needless to say, this book was incredible. John Carlin gives a sort of intimacy in this book. He sets up the story, giving the background of Mandela's life. In addition, he also interviews those that had an effect on Mandela's life either in prison, politics, or sport. This 360 degree approach brings the reader to a fuller understanding of the actions taking place and the emotions that drive them. Mandela has always been a personal hero of mine, and this book reinforces that. Though this is a (modern) historical account, the recapping of Mandela's struggle and the change he has brought to his nation also acts as a feel-good story of triumph.

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