2 books on China in­spired Man­dela

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ZHANG FAN zhang­fan1@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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