Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage

Knopf. May 2023. 576p. ISBN 9780525656852. $35. BIOG
South African scholar and award-winning author Steinberg (A Man of Good Hope) presents an engrossing joint biography of Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, his wife of nearly 40 years. Twenty years her senior, Nelson spent much of his time in an early leadership role in the African National Congress and other groups formed to protest against the apartheid regime. That meant time away from Winnie and their young children. In 1962, Nelson was arrested and sentenced to life in prison; he ultimately served 27 years. Throughout his imprisonment, Winnie grew into a national symbol of defiance, fighting apartheid in her own way. This book portrays the relationship between Winnie and Nelson and how it changed over the years of his imprisonment and after his release. It is deeply researched, and sources include recently released archives documenting secret recordings of conversations that Nelson had while in prison. Not only does this book reveal intimate details of a marriage under terrible pressure, but it also provides an insightful history of the fight against apartheid, including the roles of many other key figures.
VERDICT This is a superb addition to the history of South Africa and the struggle against apartheid.
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