2 books on China inspired Mandela
Described by his own people as a great leader with a fine strategic mind, Nelson Mandela read many books, especially biographies of revolutionaries, for knowledge and inspiration.
And on his long reading list were two books about China: Red Star Over China and The Art of War.
In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela said: “I made my way through the available literature on armed warfare and in particular guerrilla warfare. I wanted to know what circumstances were appropriate for a guerrilla war; how one created, trained and maintained a guerrilla force; how it should be armed; where it gets its supplies — all basic and fundamental questions.”
Red Star Over China, written by Edgar Snow, is about the guerrilla battles of the Communist Party of China. The book is notable for its neutral and graphic description of The Long March and Mao Zedong’s life.
Mandela took lessons about China’s revolution from this book and was deeply impressed by Mao.
He wrote in his autobiography: “I saw that it was Mao’s determination and non-traditional thinking that led him to victory.”
In an interview with Richard Stengel, a senior editor at Time magazine, Mandela praised China’s revolution as “a real masterpiece”.
“The Long March,” he stressed, “is indeed a miracle. Once you learned their way of revolution, you will believe that anything is possible.”
The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, was another of Mandela’s favorite books. An ancient Chinese military treatise, it is one of the three leading military books in the world.
The famous strategist, Sun Tzu, lived during the late Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), put his wisest and most advanced theories of war into 13 chapters, which remain highly valued by the modern world.
During Mandela’s early life in Cape Town, South Africa, he practiced law by day and was an amateur boxer at night. Despite his busy schedule, he also managed to keep up with his reading.