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Good Morning, Mr. Mandela: A Memoir

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“In Good Morning, Mr. Mandela, Zelda la Grange recounts her remarkable life at the right hand of the man we both knew and loved. It's a tribute to both of them—to Madiba's eye for talent and his capacity for trust and to Zelda's courage to take on a great challenge and her capacity for growth. This story proves the power of making politics personal and is an important remi “In Good Morning, Mr. Mandela, Zelda la Grange recounts her remarkable life at the right hand of the man we both knew and loved. It's a tribute to both of them—to Madiba's eye for talent and his capacity for trust and to Zelda's courage to take on a great challenge and her capacity for growth. This story proves the power of making politics personal and is an important reminder of the lessons Madiba taught us all.” —President Bill Clinton “President Nelson Mandela’s choice of the young Afrikaner typist Zelda la Grange as his most trusted aide embodied his commitment to reconciliation in South Africa. She repaid his trust with loyalty and integrity. I have the highest regard for her.” —Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu “Zelda la Grange has a singular perspective on Nelson Mandela, having served as his longtime personal aide, confidante and close friend. She is a dear friend to both of us and a touchstone to all of us who loved Madiba. Her story of their journey together demonstrates how a man who transformed an entire nation also had the power to transform the life of one extraordinary woman.” —Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary, actor, producer of Invictus A white Afrikaner, Zelda la Grange grew up in segregated South Africa, supporting the regime and the rules of apartheid. Her conservative family referred to the imprisoned Nelson Mandela as “a terrorist.” Yet just a few years after his release and the end of apartheid, she would be traveling the world by Mr. Mandela’s side, having grown to respect and cherish the man she would come to call "Khulu," or “grandfather." Good Morning, Mr. Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman’s life, beliefs, prejudices—everything she once believed—were utterly transformed by the man she had been taught was the enemy. It is the incredible journey of an awkward, terrified young secretary in her twenties who rose from a job in a government typing pool to become one of the president’s most loyal and devoted associates. During his presidency she was one of his three private secretaries, and then became an aide-de-camp and spokesperson and managed his office in his retirement. Working and traveling by his side for almost two decades, La Grange found herself negotiating with celebrities and world leaders, all in the cause of supporting and caring for Mr. Mandela in his many roles. Here La Grange pays tribute to Nelson Mandela as she knew him—a teacher who gave her the most valuable lessons of her life. The Mr. Mandela we meet in these pages is a man who refused to be defined by his past, who forgave and respected all, but who was also frank, teasing, and direct. As he renewed his country, he also freed La Grange from a closed world of fear and mistrust, giving her life true meaning. “I was fearful of so much twenty years ago—of life, of black people, of this black man and the future of South Africa—and I now was no longer persuaded or influenced by mainstream fears. He not only liberated the black man but the white man, too.” This is a book about love and second chances that honors the lasting and inspiring gifts of one of the great men of our time. It offers a rare intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and his remarkable life as well as moving proof of the power we all have to change.


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“In Good Morning, Mr. Mandela, Zelda la Grange recounts her remarkable life at the right hand of the man we both knew and loved. It's a tribute to both of them—to Madiba's eye for talent and his capacity for trust and to Zelda's courage to take on a great challenge and her capacity for growth. This story proves the power of making politics personal and is an important remi “In Good Morning, Mr. Mandela, Zelda la Grange recounts her remarkable life at the right hand of the man we both knew and loved. It's a tribute to both of them—to Madiba's eye for talent and his capacity for trust and to Zelda's courage to take on a great challenge and her capacity for growth. This story proves the power of making politics personal and is an important reminder of the lessons Madiba taught us all.” —President Bill Clinton “President Nelson Mandela’s choice of the young Afrikaner typist Zelda la Grange as his most trusted aide embodied his commitment to reconciliation in South Africa. She repaid his trust with loyalty and integrity. I have the highest regard for her.” —Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu “Zelda la Grange has a singular perspective on Nelson Mandela, having served as his longtime personal aide, confidante and close friend. She is a dear friend to both of us and a touchstone to all of us who loved Madiba. Her story of their journey together demonstrates how a man who transformed an entire nation also had the power to transform the life of one extraordinary woman.” —Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary, actor, producer of Invictus A white Afrikaner, Zelda la Grange grew up in segregated South Africa, supporting the regime and the rules of apartheid. Her conservative family referred to the imprisoned Nelson Mandela as “a terrorist.” Yet just a few years after his release and the end of apartheid, she would be traveling the world by Mr. Mandela’s side, having grown to respect and cherish the man she would come to call "Khulu," or “grandfather." Good Morning, Mr. Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman’s life, beliefs, prejudices—everything she once believed—were utterly transformed by the man she had been taught was the enemy. It is the incredible journey of an awkward, terrified young secretary in her twenties who rose from a job in a government typing pool to become one of the president’s most loyal and devoted associates. During his presidency she was one of his three private secretaries, and then became an aide-de-camp and spokesperson and managed his office in his retirement. Working and traveling by his side for almost two decades, La Grange found herself negotiating with celebrities and world leaders, all in the cause of supporting and caring for Mr. Mandela in his many roles. Here La Grange pays tribute to Nelson Mandela as she knew him—a teacher who gave her the most valuable lessons of her life. The Mr. Mandela we meet in these pages is a man who refused to be defined by his past, who forgave and respected all, but who was also frank, teasing, and direct. As he renewed his country, he also freed La Grange from a closed world of fear and mistrust, giving her life true meaning. “I was fearful of so much twenty years ago—of life, of black people, of this black man and the future of South Africa—and I now was no longer persuaded or influenced by mainstream fears. He not only liberated the black man but the white man, too.” This is a book about love and second chances that honors the lasting and inspiring gifts of one of the great men of our time. It offers a rare intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and his remarkable life as well as moving proof of the power we all have to change.

30 review for Good Morning, Mr. Mandela: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra X living life blissfully,not through books!

    "...[w]henever no other excuse could be found for a problem, race is the easiest issue to blame." This is so true, especially with the major racism where I live where all whites, from any country or culture in the world are to be blamed for whatever the problem is, That is not to say there isn't white racism too. There is. But it isn't the blunt self-justification, expecting support from the crowd that black against white racism is here, these days. Ahmed Kathrada, "Forgiveness is a choice." (Tal "...[w]henever no other excuse could be found for a problem, race is the easiest issue to blame." This is so true, especially with the major racism where I live where all whites, from any country or culture in the world are to be blamed for whatever the problem is, That is not to say there isn't white racism too. There is. But it isn't the blunt self-justification, expecting support from the crowd that black against white racism is here, these days. Ahmed Kathrada, "Forgiveness is a choice." (Talking about Mandela). So true. I forget this. I can't be the first one to forget something. I hold on to it until the other person does. Review to come. At some point. You know...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    this is an absolutely incredible story - i finished this book a few minutes ago and I stand in awe. I i am an open-minded person, and let others be, and respect different opinions, but I'm staying clear from any criticism of the book, including how "badly it was written". I'm sure the book was also not written to receive accolades and prizes for the way it was written. it tells the most amazing story, which is one of the greatest miracles ever. this is an absolutely incredible story - i finished this book a few minutes ago and I stand in awe. I i am an open-minded person, and let others be, and respect different opinions, but I'm staying clear from any criticism of the book, including how "badly it was written". I'm sure the book was also not written to receive accolades and prizes for the way it was written. it tells the most amazing story, which is one of the greatest miracles ever.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    This very unusual and intimate portrait of Zelda la Grange’s time with Nelson Mandela as his personal secretary is as heartbreaking as it is memorable. Zeldina, as Madiba chose to call her, was applying for a typist job in the new ANC government in 1994 when word came that the President’s office needed a typist. A young, white Afrikaner, Zelda became the youngest of the rainbow staff that served the President. In time, she grew to manage his schedule and accompany him on trips abroad. This book d This very unusual and intimate portrait of Zelda la Grange’s time with Nelson Mandela as his personal secretary is as heartbreaking as it is memorable. Zeldina, as Madiba chose to call her, was applying for a typist job in the new ANC government in 1994 when word came that the President’s office needed a typist. A young, white Afrikaner, Zelda became the youngest of the rainbow staff that served the President. In time, she grew to manage his schedule and accompany him on trips abroad. This book does tell us about Mandela, what he was like in person, and what he liked. But it is mostly about Zelda and how she managed Mandela’s hectic schedule during and after his presidency. She seems an exceptional person: focused, persistent, caring. Mandela came to rely on her to organize his life and to cater for his needs. It is nice to know there was someone willing and able to take that role for a man who had given so much to the world. “Professional co-dependency” is the phrase la Grange uses to describe their relationship. Mandela comes across as a disciplined but gentle man, nevertheless with strong opinions and beliefs. Some lessons Mandela imparted to those he worked with I hope stay with me: “Remember, the way you approach someone will determine how that person reacts to you” and “a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.” Willing to acknowledge his own errors, he forgave them in others, but he was also able and willing to cut off from his life those whom he felt did not have his interests at heart. Zelda comes across as a well-meaning, capable administrator and caregiver who had an immersive, full-on style. Madiba was her life and work. One thing that has stayed with me long after reading this book is that la Grange often felt it necessary to explain to people what her job was--what she did all day. It was not hard for me to imagine the amount of energy, drive, intelligence, hutzpa, charm, and brazen bullishness it would require to make a famous person feel their international travel experiences were as seamless, smooth, and productive as possible. Her job is a perfect example of what I would use to demonstrate the incongruity of wage disparity in a country like the United States. The head of a corporation (or country, in this case) is only as good as the secretary organizing his schedule, travel plans, and obligations. Let's face it, we'd all look pretty good with a Zelda at our backs. But we're no Mandela. La Grange was circumspect with what she revealed, but we do get a sense of great division and confusion at the end of Mandela’s life, for which we feel sorry. Despite his ‘great man’ status, Mandela could only keep the divisions among races and personalities in his sphere manageable while he was well and circulating regularly. As he became older, it sounds as though his lessons about forgiveness and generosity of spirit were lost on those he hoped to influence. Mandela was kind. Let’s hope his legacy is not completely lost for all time. Viking Penguin offered me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” Nelson Mandela 3.5 stars. A wellwritten book about how Madiba changed many peoples lives, and in this case specifically his personal assistant, Zelda. I really liked that she wrote respectfully, but still manage to not only show us Mandela the great man, but also Mandela the human. The book gave a quick overview of South African politics. I find it very sad that a person could a peacebroker in so many countries, but “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” Nelson Mandela 3.5 stars. A wellwritten book about how Madiba changed many peoples lives, and in this case specifically his personal assistant, Zelda. I really liked that she wrote respectfully, but still manage to not only show us Mandela the great man, but also Mandela the human. The book gave a quick overview of South African politics. I find it very sad that a person could a peacebroker in so many countries, but not in his own family. Rest well Madiba, you will always be in our hearts.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Belinda

    It was a major disappointment. I really wanted to like this book. But it was long, boring, and poorly written. Don’t take my word for it, read an excerpt from the book: “Madiba (as she calls Mr. Mandela) was always well groomed and took great care in making sure that his skin was well moisturized, and I remember how I sometimes had to struggle during his Presidency to get a particular lotion that was not available on the South African market at the time – simple Palmer’s Body Lotion that he used w It was a major disappointment. I really wanted to like this book. But it was long, boring, and poorly written. Don’t take my word for it, read an excerpt from the book: “Madiba (as she calls Mr. Mandela) was always well groomed and took great care in making sure that his skin was well moisturized, and I remember how I sometimes had to struggle during his Presidency to get a particular lotion that was not available on the South African market at the time – simple Palmer’s Body Lotion that he used while he was imprisoned. I think the company may have stopped manufacturing it in South Africa for a while and we had to ask people in the United States to buy it in bulk and send it to us in South Africa. The same with the eye drops he preferred: Refresh Plus in the blue and white box.” I bet you got bored and stopped reading before you got to the end. Now imagine 362 pages of that with a threat at the end that says, “To be continued . . . “ If you’d like to honor Mr. Mandela and his accomplishments, consider visiting his foundation at http://www.nelsonmandela.org. You’re money would be better spent there.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Arbeit

    An interesting read, but in need of a strong editor.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cathie

    I am sorry that I didn't read this in the original Afrikaans, which might have made it seem less stilted. The book was extremely interesting, but not really well written, with a lot of repetition which was slightly tedious. Worth reading though, and gives a good indication of what South Africa was like for white South Africans before 1994. I am sorry that I didn't read this in the original Afrikaans, which might have made it seem less stilted. The book was extremely interesting, but not really well written, with a lot of repetition which was slightly tedious. Worth reading though, and gives a good indication of what South Africa was like for white South Africans before 1994.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Reuben

    Written with such love and compassion for Mr Mandela! The writing style is unmistakably amateur, but one needs to go beyond that. This is a very personal account of Zelda's relationship with Mr Mandela over her 18 years of dedicated service. There is naturally a lot left unsaid... As it should be. How awful for her to be treated so badly by some members of the family ... Brought tears to my eyes that years of devotion could be so easily overlooked. Interesting facts gleamed about the high profil Written with such love and compassion for Mr Mandela! The writing style is unmistakably amateur, but one needs to go beyond that. This is a very personal account of Zelda's relationship with Mr Mandela over her 18 years of dedicated service. There is naturally a lot left unsaid... As it should be. How awful for her to be treated so badly by some members of the family ... Brought tears to my eyes that years of devotion could be so easily overlooked. Interesting facts gleamed about the high profile people and some of the events we associate with Mr Mandela.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tex Reader

    2.5 of 5 stars – Somewhat Informative but Ultimately Disappointing Account. (I'm excited to have won this as a Goodreads First Read – so thanks!) I’m a great admirer of Mr. Mandela, and wanted to read more about him, especially with this being a personal account, hoping I’d get more of an insider’s view and insight into the behind-the-scenes political, social, or even personal aspects of Mr. Mandela. Unfortunately this book falls a little short of that expectation. She does state upfront that this 2.5 of 5 stars – Somewhat Informative but Ultimately Disappointing Account. (I'm excited to have won this as a Goodreads First Read – so thanks!) I’m a great admirer of Mr. Mandela, and wanted to read more about him, especially with this being a personal account, hoping I’d get more of an insider’s view and insight into the behind-the-scenes political, social, or even personal aspects of Mr. Mandela. Unfortunately this book falls a little short of that expectation. She does state upfront that this was not a tell all, etc., which is fine; but she takes that to the extreme and doesn’t deliver an expectation I got from the cover that this might provide some critical review, background on the political or social happenings, or indepth insight into who was Mr. Mandela. Instead, this was a matter-of-fact, activity-to-activity listing of what happened chronologically, from her experiences and POV, without much extrapolation or insight to put things in context or provide deeper meaning or understanding (after 50 pages, I wondered if I can get through all 360+ pages this way – barely). It is telling that she describes herself as “so obsessed with doing more, that I probably missed some valuable opportunities to get a deeper understanding of what was historically happening around me.” This was evident throughout the book. It did give an idea of what “ordinary people” saw, those who weren’t as involved, as well as gave more the operational/administrative side of things, only scratching the surface of events. I had to accept that she was not an introspective, big-picture, politically savvy or even initially curious person, but a detail person focused of execution, efficiency and looking out for her boss – a perfect complement to Mr. Mandela’s opposite style. While that’s not useful for storytelling, I give her credit and ultimately respect for her dedication (to the point of obsession), service and help to Mr. Mandela, having to endure a lot on his behalf. In the end, this was a somewhat interesting but ultimately disappointing sequence of anecdotes with an administrative perspective without much insight about the man or the times.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carolien

    This story has so many facets to it. At one end it is a coming of age tale of a young, politically naïve Afrikaans girl who grows up to become assistant to one of the iconic historical figures of our time and her growth as an individual through the many experiences that she shares with him. It is the lesser told story of life-after-prison-and-president of Nelson Mandela and it takes up where so many other books cease. It is also a love story between an unexpected honorary granddaughter and a gra This story has so many facets to it. At one end it is a coming of age tale of a young, politically naïve Afrikaans girl who grows up to become assistant to one of the iconic historical figures of our time and her growth as an individual through the many experiences that she shares with him. It is the lesser told story of life-after-prison-and-president of Nelson Mandela and it takes up where so many other books cease. It is also a love story between an unexpected honorary granddaughter and a grandfather. As Zelda has said, the story is told in her own words and, if you can read the Afrikaans version, I would recommend it as the more authentic version. I am grateful that she recorded her special memories of the man, especially in his latter years. This is one book where Madiba the person and not the political icon shines throughout. I also admire Zelda her selfless devotion to Madiba and the enormous amount of effort that it must have cost her through the years to make his life easier and better. Few people can claim to be able export oryx to Saudi Arabia one day and arrange one of the biggest birthday parties of the century on another day! She also reinforced my impression of Mrs Machel as a person worthy of utmost respect.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenny M

    I will read just about anything Mandela-related, but this one tested my limits. The novelty of the book is supposed to be that Ms. La Grange, a white Afrikaner, was Mandela's personal assistant for decades. That could have been an interesting premise, but it's written at about a 6th grade level, and does not appear to have been edited. The only thing that I really found noteworthy was that Mandela's family members, other than his wife Ms. Machel, come off as boorish and petty. I will read just about anything Mandela-related, but this one tested my limits. The novelty of the book is supposed to be that Ms. La Grange, a white Afrikaner, was Mandela's personal assistant for decades. That could have been an interesting premise, but it's written at about a 6th grade level, and does not appear to have been edited. The only thing that I really found noteworthy was that Mandela's family members, other than his wife Ms. Machel, come off as boorish and petty.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

    The content of this book is fascinating, but it is so badly written and this irritated me all the way through. Perhaps the publisher wanted the story from Zelda's mouth, with her Afrikaans overtones and mediocre English, but I would have preferred a ghost writer to polish up the style and make it more readable. The content of this book is fascinating, but it is so badly written and this irritated me all the way through. Perhaps the publisher wanted the story from Zelda's mouth, with her Afrikaans overtones and mediocre English, but I would have preferred a ghost writer to polish up the style and make it more readable.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sagittarius Scholar

    4.5 stars RTC

  14. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I received Good Morning, Mr. Mandela as part of a Goodreads giveaway. Raised under apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, Zelda la Grange led a privileged existence as a white Afrikaner. Taught to fear any and every black person, she entered early adulthood as a stalwart conservative and, by her own admission, a racist. However, in the early 1990s, fate brought her into the path of Nelson Mandela, then recently released from prison and newly-elected president of South Africa. First wor I received Good Morning, Mr. Mandela as part of a Goodreads giveaway. Raised under apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, Zelda la Grange led a privileged existence as a white Afrikaner. Taught to fear any and every black person, she entered early adulthood as a stalwart conservative and, by her own admission, a racist. However, in the early 1990s, fate brought her into the path of Nelson Mandela, then recently released from prison and newly-elected president of South Africa. First working closely in his administrative office, then as his personal assistant, Zelda was a right-hand woman to Mandela, or Madiba, for two decades, during his time in office, then later as head of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, in time forging a bond that went far beyond the profesional. la Grange is a really fascinating person, and I appreciated her candor on her own racism and personal shortcomings. You also get to see a rare human side of Mandela. While he was an extraordinary man, he was just that--a man--who had imperfect moments like anyone, and it's these human moments that in some ways make him more extraordinary. On the other hand, I feel like some aspects missed their mark, though I'm not sure why. Sometimes I felt like I was missing context, other times, I feel like I was wading through a lot of celebrity/political name-dropping, and I didn't really know what its purpose was, still others the narrative wasn't the most engaging. Still, not knowing a ton about Mandela, especially before the onslaught of press coverage following his death last December, I found this an interesting read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Fergie

    If one is looking for profound insight into the late, great, Nelson Mandela, it won't be found in this book. Zelda la Grange, personal secretary to Mandela, affectionately known to his countrymen as Madiba, offers more time spent exploring the mundane occurrences during her time as a personal aide to this great man, than attempting to make any profound statements about the political comings and goings on of the world in which she had a front row seat. The book didn't start out this way. It becom If one is looking for profound insight into the late, great, Nelson Mandela, it won't be found in this book. Zelda la Grange, personal secretary to Mandela, affectionately known to his countrymen as Madiba, offers more time spent exploring the mundane occurrences during her time as a personal aide to this great man, than attempting to make any profound statements about the political comings and goings on of the world in which she had a front row seat. The book didn't start out this way. It becomes clear from the onset that there is much potential for a profoundly moving discourse as the reader is informed by La Grange herself that she was raised under apartheid by conservative parents who taught her that Madiba was a terrorist. La Grange has a serendipitous rise from typist for another branch of government to personal secretary, assistant, and adoptive-like granddaughter to the great Mandela, the first democratically elected president of South Africa after the official end of apartheid. While having a sideline view of his gentle greatness, La Grange begins to question her prejudices, but despite reiterating how far she'd grown in her thinking as a result of Mandela's influence, there seemed to be a lack of depth in what she chose to write about. In fact, throughout the book, Zelda la Grange seems to take events and people at face value without any intuitive sense of depth at all. GOOD MORNING, MR. MANDELA is a mediocre read. It's not a short read, and because of the repetitive nature of what often comes across as mundane, I, unfortunately, didn't find it a compelling one either.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Full review: http://bookjunkiereview.blogspot.com/2014/08/good-morning-mr-mandela-memoir-by-zelda.html Zelda grew up in apartheid era South Africa, which her family believed and supported the racist government. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Zelda was hired as a secretary for the president’s office. Little would she realize that she go from being a lowly secretary to being President Mandela’s loyal confidant, traveling the world with him and destroying her life-long beliefs of segr Full review: http://bookjunkiereview.blogspot.com/2014/08/good-morning-mr-mandela-memoir-by-zelda.html Zelda grew up in apartheid era South Africa, which her family believed and supported the racist government. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Zelda was hired as a secretary for the president’s office. Little would she realize that she go from being a lowly secretary to being President Mandela’s loyal confidant, traveling the world with him and destroying her life-long beliefs of segregation and racism. The book was technical with the narrative of “He said this”, “I did this”, “I went here” which sometimes made for a tedious read. What lacks with writing style, it made up with the deep love and passion she had for her job and for Madiba, who she became extremely close to, up until the end. At times, I shed a few tears as she told stories of his love for her and the raw grief she experienced after his death last year. This memoir is a wonderful tribute to Madiba, his life and his work to bring a nation together and changing the world for the better. You will be moved to tears, feeling the love and loyalty radiating from the book. You will be left in awe of both Madiba and of Zelda who opened her heart to the world and sharing the love she will always have for him.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I bought a signed copy of this book as there was so much hype around it. I had always believed Mandela's choice of a white Afrikaner woman to work in his inner office was a strategic move, but there was so much warmth and understanding in the relationship between Madiba and his personal assistant that one recognises genuine chemistry and mutual caring between them. It's a story of her transformation and personal growth and in the telling Zelda la Grange is completely without guile. Throughout, s I bought a signed copy of this book as there was so much hype around it. I had always believed Mandela's choice of a white Afrikaner woman to work in his inner office was a strategic move, but there was so much warmth and understanding in the relationship between Madiba and his personal assistant that one recognises genuine chemistry and mutual caring between them. It's a story of her transformation and personal growth and in the telling Zelda la Grange is completely without guile. Throughout, she shares lessons and values she acquires in working so closely with 'the most famous man on the planet'and later his wife Graca Machel, too. I admire La Grange's detailed recall, honesty, loyalty and years of sacrifice. I was also interested to learn that Prof Jakes Gerwel, Bono, and the Clintons were not only among Mandela's closest admirers, but also offered Zelda tremendous support around the time of his death. I also learned, as I had suspected, that political posturing within the Mandela family had become poisonous around the time of the funeral; the author is quickly sidelined and unfortunately becomes sentimental to the point of maudlin at the end of her memoir. One needs to look beyond that, as well as poor writing/editing (eg preposition and punctuation trouble), to what is really an extraordinary story with, as Clinton says, 'lessons Madiba taught us all'. I scored it 3,5.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Koit

    This is a story of the full depth of human emotion. We are not dealing with an unbiased look at Mr Mandela nor are we dealing with an objective investigation of the RSA in these years. Instead, the reader is introduced to a young Afrikaans about to enter the service of Mr Mandela, unknowing that the next two decades will be heavily influenced by that person. I think that the important things to keep in mind with this book are exactly the points from above: Ms La Grange's endeavours in the name of This is a story of the full depth of human emotion. We are not dealing with an unbiased look at Mr Mandela nor are we dealing with an objective investigation of the RSA in these years. Instead, the reader is introduced to a young Afrikaans about to enter the service of Mr Mandela, unknowing that the next two decades will be heavily influenced by that person. I think that the important things to keep in mind with this book are exactly the points from above: Ms La Grange's endeavours in the name of Mr Mandela were an act of personal devotion and it would be impossible for her to be objective about her former boss. But, in this one case, we should not want objectivity. That would be inhuman. Rather, the words Ms La Grange uses shows what mattered to her and how the society -- if only a very small slice of it we hear about as her family -- and its mores changed to show near-utmost respect to a very special person in the history of humanity. The short glimpses of everyday life the reader is granted only reinforce this -- and hopefully bring forth the ideas Mr Mandela stood for all his life (equality, humanity and respect to turn it into a catchphrase) as well as ensure that these keep on surviving (and, hopefully, thriving). Originally posted here.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    I will read anything I can get my hands on about Nelson Mandela. This one didn't disappoint. It was an incredibly personal and candid recount of Zelda's personal relationship with a global icon of humanitarianism. Her reverence for him is apparent, but she isn't afraid to speak of his flaws. No fear though, this isn't a staff members attempts to air her boss's dirty laundry. I'd categorize it as a good reminder that he was a human, after all. A must read for anyone with a fascination of one of t I will read anything I can get my hands on about Nelson Mandela. This one didn't disappoint. It was an incredibly personal and candid recount of Zelda's personal relationship with a global icon of humanitarianism. Her reverence for him is apparent, but she isn't afraid to speak of his flaws. No fear though, this isn't a staff members attempts to air her boss's dirty laundry. I'd categorize it as a good reminder that he was a human, after all. A must read for anyone with a fascination of one of the most prolific men of our time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    The audio recording was a bit annoying at first because the narrator did not quite capture either Zelda's or Madhiba's voice and affected a strange lisp doing Zelda, but then I got used to it. I liked the story about how Zelda came to work for Madhiba and their interactions. The part that happened when I was living in South Africa rang very true. Zelda went on a bit too long about last stages of Mandela's life, how sad she was, and the bad and disrespectful behavior by some family members and of The audio recording was a bit annoying at first because the narrator did not quite capture either Zelda's or Madhiba's voice and affected a strange lisp doing Zelda, but then I got used to it. I liked the story about how Zelda came to work for Madhiba and their interactions. The part that happened when I was living in South Africa rang very true. Zelda went on a bit too long about last stages of Mandela's life, how sad she was, and the bad and disrespectful behavior by some family members and officials; unfortunately for South Africa that part also rang very true.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Tousignant-fallon

    I thought this was an excellent book. I still can't believe when they discuss situations that happened in Africa in 1989-90. I would have been 13/14 years old and oblivious that racism was happening to that extent. Now a days, kids have access to the internet and all sorts of resources we didn't have to get this information quickly. This young lady was brought up to be afraid of black people and then she ends up working for one of the greatest men around (Nelson Mandela) and he changes everythin I thought this was an excellent book. I still can't believe when they discuss situations that happened in Africa in 1989-90. I would have been 13/14 years old and oblivious that racism was happening to that extent. Now a days, kids have access to the internet and all sorts of resources we didn't have to get this information quickly. This young lady was brought up to be afraid of black people and then she ends up working for one of the greatest men around (Nelson Mandela) and he changes everything for her. It goes to show you how one person can slowly change the world for the best.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Crampton

    This book is written with love and passion for Nelson Mandela who Zelda served for 18 years. Although the writing style is pedestrian the content is fascinating. This book is a tribute to a great man and provides insight into his daily life and leaves the reader with huge respect for the his stamina in dealing with a punishing work schedule and his caring kindness to all.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rozemarijn

    Reading Around The Globe: South-Africa Impressive and wonderful memoir. Didn't expect anything less than this. Reading Around The Globe: South-Africa Impressive and wonderful memoir. Didn't expect anything less than this.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Beverley Theron

    Amazing amazing and a book to read over and over

  25. 4 out of 5

    Belle

    I enjoyed this and read it very quickly. The author did well in that she covered decades (and at times delicate subject matter) in a way which was engaging and yet respectful to her employer's memory and dignity. Unfortunately however there were times when her syntax was all wrong and as such I often had to re-read sentences or short paragraphs to understand what was going on or being said, particularly in relation to who or when. This was such a shame, as it didn't seem to have been edited. I w I enjoyed this and read it very quickly. The author did well in that she covered decades (and at times delicate subject matter) in a way which was engaging and yet respectful to her employer's memory and dignity. Unfortunately however there were times when her syntax was all wrong and as such I often had to re-read sentences or short paragraphs to understand what was going on or being said, particularly in relation to who or when. This was such a shame, as it didn't seem to have been edited. I wish I'd read this in Afrikaans rather than English and kicked myself quite early in for my mistake. The author's way with words was clearly very South African and I could recognise a fellow Boeremeisie, which helped me to feel for her. I was emotional towards the end and I really liked her. International readers however might not bond so well with the very South African way of putting things. While I feel the author has been sorely let down by her editor, or lack of editor, I also thought the 1998 Lesotho invasion was glossed over, which was odd but not a major issue and maybe there were reasons why this was the case. More of a concern (and a disappointment) was that the author stated: " Monica Lewinsky, the woman who gambled with the future of the Clinton administration..." Hmm the only person who gambled with the future of the Clinton administration was Bill Clinton when he blatantly lied to the American people about "that woman!" It's worth mentioning that there was a recommendation for the book written by Bill Clinton on the cover. I'm really glad that I read this book, as since 2009 I've always criticised Nelson Mandela for not standing up to the ANC and calling them out, but now I can look at this from a more generous viewpoint. I would have rated this a runaway 4/5 if there had been any sign of an editor and a 5/5 if this was combined with the removal of the Monica Lewinsky comment.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Natalija B.

    This is an interesting story of a young Afrikaner woman who, almost by a stroke of luck, is hired as a typist for the office of the newly elected President Mandela – a person her father used to refer to as “the terrorist”. Later promoted to a private secretary, she becomes not only key administrative support for the President but also one of his travel companions. Interestingly, having an Afrikaner on his staff seems to be a part of Madiba’s strategic effort to build the most representative dele This is an interesting story of a young Afrikaner woman who, almost by a stroke of luck, is hired as a typist for the office of the newly elected President Mandela – a person her father used to refer to as “the terrorist”. Later promoted to a private secretary, she becomes not only key administrative support for the President but also one of his travel companions. Interestingly, having an Afrikaner on his staff seems to be a part of Madiba’s strategic effort to build the most representative delegation possible to advance his reconciliation agenda in post-apartheid South Africa. Although some descriptions of her daily tasks appear to be rather long and mundane, Zelda manages to showcase the indispensable work of the President’s secretariat in actually making things happen. As time goes, we can also observe how the professional relationship between Zelda and Madiba evolves into something bigger and becomes almost grandfather-granddaughter-like – a stark contrast to every “truth” Zelda was brought up with. Although the story itself is fascinating, the book appears a little overstretched and sometimes unnecessarily repetitive. One should not open it with an expectation to see a critical review of Mandela’s legacy or to read an insightful political analysis. This is a simple and subjective account of events as experienced by one of the most loyal and dedicated President Mandela’s associates.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    Zelda la Grange, an Africaner, grew up in South Africa under apartheid. Her family was steadfastly right-wing, and she was brought up to believe that Africaners were fighting against the “black communists”. She had been taught to fear them. The family servant, Jogabeth, was black, but she fell into a slightly different category, since she had a large role in raising la Grange while her parents, who were low income and struggled financially despite their white privilege, were working. But Jogabet Zelda la Grange, an Africaner, grew up in South Africa under apartheid. Her family was steadfastly right-wing, and she was brought up to believe that Africaners were fighting against the “black communists”. She had been taught to fear them. The family servant, Jogabeth, was black, but she fell into a slightly different category, since she had a large role in raising la Grange while her parents, who were low income and struggled financially despite their white privilege, were working. But Jogabeth was not permitted to touch Zelda’s skin. When Zelda needed carrying, she climbed on the woman’s back, but already knew not to touch her hair, her hands. It might rub off. It might soil her. When she was finished with school, she got a secretarial position in the government, and it was there that she found herself working for a new president after the death of apartheid. She worked for Nelson Mandela’s personal assistant. White South Africa was in turmoil; some Africaners were progressive and welcomed the change, but her own family was outraged and frightened. La Grange needed her job and assured herself that because she was fairly far down the food chain, she would likely never actually see President Mandela. And the very thought of running into Black people in positions of authority terrified her. How much must they hate her and all of the Africaners who had kept them down for so long? Would they hurt her? And when the day finally came that she saw the president, she kept on moving, eyes averted, but he asked one of his staff to bring her in for a conversation. When she arrived, she burst into tears of mortification and fear. He took her hand, ending her lifelong habit of never touching a black man before she even realized what she was doing, and he made a point of holding that hand until he was ready to give it back to her. And in his kindly, genial manner, he told her, as she stood sobbing in terror before him, that she was overreacting. It would not be the last time he would tell her this. When I began reading la Grange’s memoir, I was initially disappointed. She spoke of her own life and told the reader that this was not Mandela’s memoir but her own. I didn’t want to read about the daily doings of some Africaner functionary. If I hadn’t received the book in exchange for a review, I’d have abandoned it, and it would have been my loss. Because soon after she found herself working for Madiba, her job became inextricably intertwined with his, and it continued through his retirement. Her life was, in many ways, his life. But because Mandela did not address his presidency when he wrote Long Walk to Freedom, and because he would never brag or dwell upon his own successes unless they were important historically, her story about life with him is different from his own. And because he would never name-drop, she does it for him. I reflected upon his choice of la Grange when he chose the entourage with which he would travel. He made a point of having a multi-hued staff around him, blacks, browns, golden toned and Africaner. She and a professor were the two Africaners he chose. So initially, he had just wanted her to be the Africaner who would represent her own race and culture on the new presidential staff. And it was a smart move. A man in his position must watch constantly for security risks. When choosing an Africaner for the staff, he needed not only someone who was organized, hard working, and competent—which she was. He also needed the least likely individual to be an assassin! La Grange describes herself as very young (I think she was short of age 20), but also shy and much inclined to blushing. Duplicity was beyond her. She also says she was plain looking and overweight. Madiba was a really smart guy. He understood that her youth made her more malleable than some, and that she was no part of anyone’s plan for a coup. In time she replaced his private secretary, and over the course of twenty remarkable years, she developed a steel spine as she became the gate-keeper to Mr. Mandela both during his presidency and after his retirement. La Grange has a lot of stories to tell. She traveled with Madiba to many places, and tells of his friendships with other members of royal families abroad, with celebrities, and with ordinary people. She also speaks of his tireless effort, even after the age of 80, to raise funds for clinics (especially for AIDS patients) and schools in what was still an underdeveloped nation. There was (and probably still is) a tremendous amount of corruption in government, but Madiba was completely clean, as one might expect, and made a point to keep his charity funds separate from those of the government. His travel abroad and frequent appearances sometimes caused political friction with those who succeeded him, who felt he had no right to speak for South Africa anymore; Madiba insisted he spoke for himself alone. And la Grange points out that it was the ANC that chose to make him the icon of anti-apartheid struggle, and thus they had no business complaining when international figures asked for Madiba rather than Mbeki or others who currently held office. There is a part I skipped through at the beginning that explains what apartheid was, and how it affected the lives of those who lived under it. I didn’t read it because there was nothing there I didn’t know; I was an anti-apartheid activist once myself. But for those who were too young to recall it or whose attention was elsewhere, it may help plug the gaps. But the vast majority of her story is of her life with Nelson Mandela. For two decades she was on the go, 24/7, and served at such a frenetic pace that she often could not take 20 minutes for a meal. The phone often rang in the middle of the night, and sometimes she worked all night long as well. Her transformation and dedication were complete. At the very end, a fracture within Mandela’s family formed, and a couple of his daughters decided that she could no longer see him, but she had been there for him right up until he was well into his decline. The memories she shares are ones you will find nowhere else; Madiba had attempted to write a second memoir, but was unable to complete it. And even had he done so, he would not have proudly told the world about the good that he did the way that la Grange does for him. Highly recommended to everyone.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Weir

    I loved this book! Writing in her second language, Miss la Grange makes no claim to be a great author, but I think that is partly what gives this book its charm. What you see is what you get. She is brutally honest about herself and her perceived failings, whilst being very modest about what was clearly a very successful career. Her affection for, and loyalty to, Madiba are very clear, and it was a delight to read about some of his foibles, and to experience—through Zelda's eyes—his low times as w I loved this book! Writing in her second language, Miss la Grange makes no claim to be a great author, but I think that is partly what gives this book its charm. What you see is what you get. She is brutally honest about herself and her perceived failings, whilst being very modest about what was clearly a very successful career. Her affection for, and loyalty to, Madiba are very clear, and it was a delight to read about some of his foibles, and to experience—through Zelda's eyes—his low times as well as his high ones. It was fascinating, too, to have some insights into all that goes on behind the scenes in the world of politics, state visits, and the like. It is easy to overlook the long and hard hours worked by the people who are not in the limelight so that those who are in the public eye might succeed in their endeavours. As a fellow South African, born into the same political system—albeit seventeen years earlier—I found this book was a wonderful reminder of how far we have come. No one ever said that things wouldn't get worse before they got better but, at least, one is reminded by this book that Mr. Mandela did all that he could to set us off on the right path. Overall, I found this a great read. Miss la Grange sounds like the kind of author whom I should love to meet.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Thabiso Njoko

    If there is one thing that Zelda has proven to have is loyalty. If all PA's practiced such loyalty and dedication towards serving their assigned employer. Alot can be achieved. As for Madiba, no man alive, i know, doubt will ever meet will be as humble and forgiving and passionate about humanity. okay great, but lets fast forward to what is currently happening in South africa, State Capture. Wasn't it State Capture when Mandela was given luxurious benefits by the Rupents . After reading Brian Br If there is one thing that Zelda has proven to have is loyalty. If all PA's practiced such loyalty and dedication towards serving their assigned employer. Alot can be achieved. As for Madiba, no man alive, i know, doubt will ever meet will be as humble and forgiving and passionate about humanity. okay great, but lets fast forward to what is currently happening in South africa, State Capture. Wasn't it State Capture when Mandela was given luxurious benefits by the Rupents . After reading Brian Bransons` Losing My Virginity, I discovered other dealings like him purchasing a Nature Reserve (which he still owns) that`s land given away but who am i to judge. A mans got to do what a mans got to do. On the contrast it was given in good honor to create healthy relationships that will benefit R.S.A. Why is it the big issue now that Jacob Zuma has a good relationship with the Guptas. Although, I might emphasize that in the book, it clearly stipulates that the now, President, Jacob Zuma was involved in a case of Fraud. So, quickly not to spoil the great book of a man that left a great legacy. It pains me at the end that Zelda was not allowed closer to him on his last days. Sometimes family is family, it will protect you from m even the ones with good intentions. Wonderfully written. #Riska_D_Rollaz_Books

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mya

    I'm not really a non-fiction reader, so wasn't sure how much I'd like this. That said, those in my book club who have read it gave it OK ratings and I have read (and enjoyed) "Long Walk to Freedom". Also, I'm South African, so I was pretty sure there would be stuff I could relate to ;-) I figure the book could have been about half the length. Zelda is not a brilliant writer and tends to ramble or repeat phrases a bit. That said, the pace is good enough and the writing, although on a bit on the bo I'm not really a non-fiction reader, so wasn't sure how much I'd like this. That said, those in my book club who have read it gave it OK ratings and I have read (and enjoyed) "Long Walk to Freedom". Also, I'm South African, so I was pretty sure there would be stuff I could relate to ;-) I figure the book could have been about half the length. Zelda is not a brilliant writer and tends to ramble or repeat phrases a bit. That said, the pace is good enough and the writing, although on a bit on the boring side, isn't hard reading. Zelda says in the beginning that this book is more about her than about Mandela (but because he was all she lived and breathed for while she worked for him, it does automatically become about him too), and this is true. Everything is from her perspective and about her experiences and thus her emotions and reactions. Some might feel it a little self-indulged, but her loyalty to him shines through. I think she probably went through a lot and if she wants to write about that, and people are willing to buy it, then so be it. So I don't really know whether to recommend it or not. I guess if you are interested in this little bit of South African history, then perhaps give it a go.

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