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Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation
     

Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation

4.2 15
by John Carlin
 

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Beginning in a jail cell and ending in a rugby tournament- the true story of how the most inspiring charm offensive in history brought South Africa together

After being released from prison and winning South Africa's first free election, Nelson Mandela presided over a country still deeply divided by fifty years of apartheid. His plan was ambitious if not

Overview

Beginning in a jail cell and ending in a rugby tournament- the true story of how the most inspiring charm offensive in history brought South Africa together

After being released from prison and winning South Africa's first free election, Nelson Mandela presided over a country still deeply divided by fifty years of apartheid. His plan was ambitious if not far-fetched: use the national rugby team, the Springboks-long an embodiment of white-supremacist rule-to embody and engage a new South Africa as they prepared to host the 1995 World Cup. The string of wins that followed not only defied the odds, but capped Mandela's miraculous effort to bring South Africans together again in a hard-won, enduring bond.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" This wonderful book describes Mandela's methodical, improbable and brilliant campaign to reconcile resentful blacks and fearful whites around a sporting event, a game of rugby."
-The New York Times Book Review

" If you have any doubts about the political genius of Nelson Mandela, read John Carlin's engrossing book . . . [A] feel-good slice of history."
-USA Today

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440634246
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/14/2008
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
452,599
File size:
471 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
" This wonderful book describes Mandela's methodical, improbable and brilliant campaign to reconcile resentful blacks and fearful whites around a sporting event, a game of rugby."
-The New York Times Book Review

" If you have any doubts about the political genius of Nelson Mandela, read John Carlin's engrossing book . . . [A] feel-good slice of history."
-USA Today

Meet the Author

John Carlin is senior international writer for El País, the world’sleading Spanish language newspaper, and was previously the U.S.bureau chief for The Independent on Sunday. His writing has appeared inThe New York Times, The New Republic, Wired, Spin, and Conde NastTraveler.

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Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a terrific read. Though they are releasing a movie they are missing the best part. I am an ex rugby player but I found the most interesting part takes place in the many years before the match. Three quarters of of the book is Mandela's negotiations with the Boer government during his captivity. I had no idea. It seems he went to great lengths to get to know his captors which included his gaining an understanding of their sporting interests. Later he has to transfer that interest to the Black African majority who hated rugby as it represented their oppressors. It is more a book about Mandela's human insight than the game. The fact that it was a unprecedented and unexpected and yet seemingly destined victory makes great icing for the cake. You needn't be a rugby fan, I am, you don't have to have been in South Africa when Mandela was released, I was, to enjoy this book. I sent it to my mother, father and step daughter and they all liked it. Don't miss it.
Whymsy More than 1 year ago
Masterful This is book is about more than a sports story. This is a story of human depravity and greatness. As well choreographed as any truly great Hollywood film (and incidentally turned into a movie with Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon) or magnificent epic novel. Beautifully written and told with heartfelt sincerity this book completely captivated me even though I already knew the ending. I was riveted with each turn of the page, waiting in eager anticipation to see how the final triumph was brought into fruition. With the effortless flow of the narrative Carlin delicately unfurls the story like a blooming flower with each page coming together to create a colorful and deliciously scented bloom. Carlin masterfully orchestrates the different firsthand accounts and different viewpoints to put a together a fairly complete picture of the lead up to the South African hosted Rugby World Championship and the crowning jewel of Mandela’s presidentship. He lays out enough background to help us understand how incredible this turn of events were and gives enough individual stories to get the real impact of the situation. His compassion for all sides allows him to understand the differing viewpoints and pass that understanding onto us. Mandela is sketched as a clever, deliberate, politically savvy man raised up for just such a time in his country’s history to help it navigate the choppy waters of fear and impatience. Mandela is a genius; he knew where he wanted to take his country, found a means to get there, and convinced people from very fragmented groups to help implement a plan of action. “One Team, One Country” was not only the motto for the Springboks, but for every South African. Now granted the road from there has been bumpy for the country, but that should not take away from what it has accomplished and can accomplish in the future.
Word-Nerd More than 1 year ago
When Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected president of South Africa, the country was still deeply divided by the legacy of apartheid. This book tells the heartwarming story of how the Mandela used his considerable charm and charisma to rally blacks and whites around a game of rugby -- specifically the 1995 World Cup championship match between South Africa and New Zealand. I knew very little about South African politics (and even less about rugby!) before reading this book, but the author provided just enough background to make me appreciate the enormity of Mandela's challenge. This wonderful human interest story is a real winner. (I understand the book has been optioned to Hollywood, with Morgan Freeman slated to star. Is that perfect casting or what?)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Bill Keller¿s review in the 'NY Times' and thought, wow, this sounds great. I picked it up and found it a terrific story, told dramatically and well. I thought, at first, not being a student of modern South Africa to any great extent, that the portrait of Mandela as this nearly omnipotent force for moral good was a bit overplayed. But as the story progressed, Carlin made his case. I am someone who¿s worked in progressive politics for some time, and I¿m a rugger, so there¿s a lot of resonance in this book for me. Some of the vignettes are terrific: Desmond Tutu stranded in San Francisco and desperately seeking a bar where he can watch the final match Mandela in prison teaching himself Afrikaans and Afrikaner history the largely apolitical and almost entirely Boer rugby team learning the liberation song, Nkosi Sikelele a black member of Mandela¿s presidential protection unit suggesting he wear the Springbok jersey to the final match and Mandela¿s reception from the fans at the match, almost all white, almost all Boers, chanting ¿Nelson, Nelson.¿ and the reaction of the Springbok manager: ¿It was the moment I realized that there really was a chance this country could work.¿ Great read! Pick it up. I can¿t wait for the movie in production now with Morgan Freeman as Mandela, Matt Damon as the Springbok captain, and directed by Clint Eastwood.
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