Cover Image: The Mandela Revolution

The Mandela Revolution

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Member Reviews

Overview:
Nelson Mandela was the first legitimately elected president of South Africa.  A rule that inherited a need to integrate many disparate groups.  This is a personal account of the military aspect of integration, the merging of disparate groups into a homogenous defense force. To facilitate this goal, an external neutral group would be brought in to provide an honest assessment, which would also provide an external stamp of approval.  A group to oversee integration, education and training, and transparency and fairness.  The external neutral party was the British Military Advisory and Training Team which would witness and report on four of the major military groups.  There is an understanding that happens between soldiers, regardless of whom they serve.  What was learned from the early exchanges was that there was no desire for a civil war.  They all had experienced hardships, and knew that change was needed.  There was much understanding, but also misunderstanding as different cultures collided.  Peace was wanted, but tension could not be avoided and was made worse by a few who caused disruptions.  

Mandela showed up himself to deal with certain grievances, but those who had made the grievances came away surprised by how Mandela handled the situation.  Each group’s members needed to adjust to different expectations as the expectations of a government official was vastly different than the political group they belonged to before.  Being formally part of a government had a life of its own, that everyone involved needed to come to understand.  

Apartheid ideology did a lot of harm, but Mandela did not want to promulgate hate.  Mandela wanted negotiation and compromise, not revenge.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was meant for reconciliation, and restorative justice.  

Caveats?
There is not much background on South Africa.  This book acts more of a supplement to an understanding of South Africa during the time.  It is also less about how Mandela got into power, and more about the military aspects of South Africa when Mandela was in power.
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This book was very informative, and a firsthand account of how his experience during such transitional and monumental times.
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Colonel Huw Lawford RA. Ret tells the story of a small British advisory mission to South Africa tasked with uniting the multiple anti-apartheid military groups some of which were violently opposed not just to the Apartheid government but to each other.  Lawford provides a fascinating look into a hopeful outcome of one of the last Western Empires that through hard work, persistence, and good will has managed to transition from a one-party race-based system of government to one of the possibilities.  South Africa still remains the most dynamic country in Southern Africa as well as a potential force for good on the world stage.  Lawford and his small band of brothers helped to prevent a fractious civil war filled with anarchy in 1994 by integrating the South African military forces.
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This book was really hard to get through. I think to fully understand this book, you need to have some basic understanding of the British military structure. As an pacifist and someone not familiar with military complex, especially within the United Kingdom, I found it hard to grasp at times. 

I also thought this book would be about South Africa during Mandela's transition to president, and yes majority of the book is about that, but there's a lot of discussion about the world at this time, other wars, Northern Ireland, and the writer's life. 

Not saying this book was bad, just not what I expected and not for everyone. It's rather dry in topic and composition.
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