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Winnie and Nelson

Best Seller
Winnie and Nelson by Jonny Steinberg
Hardcover $35.00
May 02, 2023 | ISBN 9780525656852

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  • May 02, 2023 | ISBN 9780525656852

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“Remarkable . . . In heartbreaking detail, Jonny Steinberg adds up the catastrophic toll on these two lives and the lives of people around them. Yet he never takes his eye off the larger picture, and the damage done to the Mandelas comes to stand for the damage done to millions; their history is the history of modern South Africa. Even more impressively, he manages to illuminate two different political traditions through the personalities of Winnie and Nelson, and to give a fresh understanding of the crossroads at which my country now stands. Gripping and profoundly moving, this is Jonny Steinberg’s finest book. I can’t wait to read it again.”—Damon Galgut, Booker Prize-winning author of The Promise, in Literary Hub

“Steinberg vividly recreates the political and private lives of antiapartheid activists Nelson and Winnie Mandela in this exceptional dual biography. . . . Readers will be mesmerized by the thrumming tension and profound emotional complexity of this intimate portrait of two global icons. It’s a knockout.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Elegant and masterful . . . Steinberg has created a landmark dual biography of two unforgettable civil rights heroes.”Booklist (starred review)

“An engrossing joint biography . . . 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. . . . A superb addition to the history of South Africa and the struggle against apartheid.”Library Journal (starred review)

“The most nuanced of storytellers, Steinberg has always had an extraordinary ability to get inside his protagonists’ heads, and does so here while scrupulously detailing the brutalizing pressures to which [Winnie and Nelson] were relentlessly subjected, experiences that left them warped and hardened.”—Michela Wrong, The Times (UK)

“There are so many heart-rending revelations about the tortured relationship, extramarital affairs and personal sacrifices of Nelson and Winnie Mandela in this outstanding biography of South Africa’s anti-apartheid power couple that if asked to list the most poignant half-dozen, it would be hard to know where to start. . . . Part of the genius of [Steinberg’s] book is to write the Mandelas’ story as a mirror of the dilemma over how to respond to apartheid — fight or talk?”—Alec Russell, Financial Times

“Raw and revelatory . . . An intense, unsparing and at times almost unbearably intimate exploration of one of the world’s most famous, most mythical marriages. This is a book to make one wince, and gasp, and turn the page – a book that slowly, remorselessly, tears the bandages off South Africa’s carefully constructed image of itself, and of a partnership that lies at the heart of this country’s ‘miraculous’ transformation.”—Andrew Harding, Times Literary Supplement

“[An] excellent new biography of the couple . . . Steinberg suspects that the couple’s myths will only endure – but his thorough interrogation of their story should help readers reconcile themselves with the messier truth.”—Helen Brown, The Telegraph

“Beautiful . . . [Steinberg] gently but firmly removes the masks [Winnie and Nelson] each carefully constructed. . . . Winnie and Nelson is more than a joint biography, as good as it is at that; it’s a deft and operatic interweaving of two outsized characters.”—Richard Stengel, The Observer

“An empathetic portrait of one of the most controversial power couples in history . . . Of course, we never know what really happens behind closed doors. What Steinberg does extremely well in this book is to pry those doors ajar using archive, interviews and never-seen-before transcripts of conversations between Winnie and Nelson during prison visits.”—Kirsty Lang, The Sunday Times

“A new and excellent double biography of Nelson and Winnie. Steinberg is sensitive and imaginative and has a mature and insightful appreciation of the many painful emotional strains within the marriage, which was always under enormous political pressure. . . . He is a talented writer and there is much that is new here. He has done a great deal of painstaking research, not only in the archives but on the ground too, seeking out and interviewing many minor actors.”—R. W. Johnson, Literary Review

“[A] major biography . . . [Winnie and Nelson] reveals some startling truths behind the fractured and volatile marriage of anti-apartheid activists Winnie and Nelson Mandela.”—Martin Chilton, The Independent

“Based on far-ranging research as well as on a trove of recently uncovered materials — as deeply sympathetic to Winnie, caught up in the whirlwind of insurrectionary violence, as to Nelson, trapped in his prison cell and losing touch day by day with the evolving situation on the ground — Steinberg’s massive essay in political biography is unlikely to be superseded in a long time.”—J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Laureate 2003

“For so long the Mandelas were seen as they were lauded – the freedom fighters who birthed a nation. Yet, behind the frontlines and the headlines, always there is a shadow narrative, subtler and more complex, a story about revolution and marriage, power and revenge. In this remarkable dual political biography, Jonny Steinberg has at last told it. Winnie and Nelson is a powerful, page-turning political fable unlike any I’ve read.”—Aminatta Forna, author of Happiness and The Window Seat

“It takes a special talent to write about Winnie Madikizela and Nelson Mandela without collapsing under the weight—part myth, part hagiography, part obfuscation—that these two towering figures bring to bear on the historical record. Jonny Steinberg is that special talent. Only Steinberg could have written a book in which Winnie and Nelson can appear both larger-than-life and all-too-human. What a book! What an achievement!”—Jacob Dlamini, author of The Terrorist Album

“In this eloquent biography, Steinberg . . . captures the mythic quality of these two leaders, their great love story and tragic estrangement, and the hubris and human frailty beneath the personas. . . . He presents a nuanced, well-contextualized look at their relationship within its time. . . . [Winnie and Nelson is] a magnificent portrait of two people joined in the throes of making South African history.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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