Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
December 05, 2013

He was a hero who ranks with Abraham Lincoln. But he left a more ambivalent legacy, too.

Infinite Delay: The Last Days of Nelson Mandela
October 11, 2013

This piece originally appeared on newstatesman.com.

Nelson Mandela's Less Attractive Legacy
How will history judge the world's favorite saint?
July 18, 2013

Not as kindly as you think.

About Those Protests
October 13, 2011

Tim Noah gives his take.

Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt: The Untold Story of the Black Panther Leader, Dead At 63
June 27, 2011

Elmer Pratt, the prominent Black Panther known by his nom de guerre, Geronimo ji-Jaga, died at 63 on June 2 in Tanzania. He had served 27 years in prison in Los Angeles for murder, the first eight in solitary confinement, and had been denied parole 16 times before his sentence was vacated and he was freed.

The Problem with Purity
May 05, 2011

Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India By Joseph Lelyveld (Alfred A. Knopf, 410 pp., $27.95) In 1914, the Tamil activist and editor P.S. Aiyar took to the pages of his South African newspaper to appraise Mohandas Gandhi. “Mr.

In the Margins
February 23, 2011

In the latest installment of its occasional series on how technology is ruining our lives, The New York Times reports on a conference about to be held by the Caxton Club, a group of Chicago bibliophiles, on how annotating books “enhance[s] the reading experience.” Alongside some entertaining literary tidbits (Nelson Mandela wrote his own name in the margin of Julius Caesar next to the line “Cowards die many times before their deaths”), we find in the article the usual doomsday musings on the fate of marginalia in the digital age. The Caxtonites, needless to say, are not into the Kindle.

The Old New Thing
October 20, 2010

The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History By Samuel Moyn (Belknap Press, 337 pp., $27.95) In 1807, in Yorkshire, activists hit the campaign trail for William Wilberforce, whose eloquent parliamentary fight against Britain’s slave trade had won surprising success. “O we’ve heard of his Cants in Humanity’s Cause/While the Senate was hush’d, and the land wept applause,” they sang.

A Jingoistic and Well-Lubricated Take From Ellis Park Stadium
June 18, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- In the third row of the upper deck at Ellis Park Stadium -- site of the post-apartheid, racially unifying World Cup rugby game in Invictus (and in life); yesterday I saw the jersey Nelson Mandela wore that day on display at the fabulous Apartheid Museum here -- we were already in a state of high freak-out when it looked and sounded as if the U.S. had scored the go-ahead goal against Slovenia. That delicious, sudden eruption that happens best at sporting events happened. A deafening roar (and not of you-know-whats). A tasty shower of beer.

The Healer
June 15, 2010

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA—It was as clear as the film’s most famous scene: The work of reconciliation in South Africa is not done yet. In February 2008, a video appeared online showing four white students from South Africa’s University of the Free State (UFS) hazing their black janitors as if they were new freshmen. There’s a beer-drinking contest, a footrace to “Chariots of Fire.” Near the end, the boys appear to pee into bowls of stew and urge the janitors to eat up. It was supposed to be an in-house joke, a protest against a plan to integrate their dorm, a student residence called Reitz.

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