As Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the ensuing years saw the collapse of South Africa's apartheid regime, John Carlin ('one of the great post-apartheid chroniclers' Financial Times) was the South Africa correspondent of London's Independent newspaper.
Carlin met Mandela and his family many times, reported on Mandela's feats, trials and tribulations and was one of the few foreign journalists in South Africa to cover both his release from prison and his accession to the presidency four years later.
In Knowing Mandela Carlin offers an illuminating and inspiring personal account of the iconic figure who has come both to define post-apartheid South Africa and to represent the possibility of a moral politics to the world at large.
Click here to read John Carlin's last poignant encounter with the figure who had come to play a central part in his life.
The President and the Journalist (the opening paragraph of Knowing Mandela)
Condemned in 1964 to life in prison for taking up arms against the state, he was supposed to have died in a small cell on a small island. Yet here was Nelson Mandela, almost thirty years later, standing before me, no longer a prisoner of that state, but the head of it. Barely a month had passed since he had been elected president of South Africa when he welcomed me into his new office at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, wearing his large and familiar smile, enveloping my hand in his enormous one, leathery after years of forced labor. “Ah, hello, John!” he cried with what felt like genuine delight. “How are you? Very good to see you"