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Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation

Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation - John Carlin 1/30/2011 ** Well, I'm supposed to be doing lesson plans, but instead I'm 'productively procrastinating' by typing my comments about INVICTUS. I actually hadn't known this was a book when we saw the movie. I've had a long-time interest in Mandela and South Africa's journey in the last decades. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie - then I saw the book in a bargain book bin at Borders.

The book is actually much broader in scope than than the movie, which seemed to mostly draw from the 2 chapters near the very end of the book. The author actually worked as a journalist in South Africa in the early 90s and based much of the book on the experiences and research that he did at that time. Most of the book focuses on the writing, thinking, and meetings that Mandela did during his last decade in prison. This work laid the foundation for the reconciliation that followed and was key in preventing mass bloodshed during apartheid's death throes.

I've been making a conscious effort to expand the genres in which I read and this book was the result of that choice. I found it a fascinating political read and a testament to the diplomatic skill that Nelson Mandela brought to bear. I was also interested in the historical context that Carlin laid out so clearly. On a final note, notice that the book was originally published with the title PLAYING THE ENEMY, alluding to both the Rugby World Cup and the way in which Mandela 'played' to his 'enemies' passions as he brought them into his camp.