Non Fiction – History – Politic/Sports
(sorry if you disagree with my labels, I had a real difficult time putting this book in a proper category)
Publication Date: January 1st 2008
Original Title: Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation
After Nelson Mandela had been released from prison and won South Africa’s first free election he faced his biggest challenge; putting together a broken and divided country. Latching onto the idea of rugby as his nation building tool, Mandela used a previous symbol of apartheid – the Springboks – and the chance to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup to pull off his greatest and most miraculous triumph. “One Team, One Country”
This is book is about more than a sports story. This is a story of human depravity and greatness. As well choreographed as any truly great Hollywood film (and incidentally turned into a movie with Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon) or magnificent epic novel. Beautifully written and told with heartfelt sincerity this book completely captivated me even though I already knew the ending. I was riveted with each turn of the page, waiting in eager anticipation to see how the final triumph was brought into fruition.
With the effortless flow of the narrative Carlin delicately unfurls the story like a blooming flower with each page coming together to create a colorful and deliciously scented bloom. Carlin masterfully orchestrates the different firsthand accounts and different viewpoints to put a together a fairly complete picture of the lead up to the South African hosted Rugby World Championship and the crowning jewel of Mandela’s presidentship. He lays out enough background to help us understand how incredible this turn of events were and gives enough individual stories to get the real impact of the situation. His compassion for all sides allows him to understand the differing viewpoints and pass that understanding onto us.
Mandela is sketched as a clever, deliberate, politically savvy man raised up for just such a time in his country’s history to help it navigate the choppy waters of fear and impatience. Mandela is a genius; he knew where he wanted to take his country, found a means to get there, and convinced people from very fragmented groups to help implement a plan of action. “One Team, One Country” was not only the motto for the Springboks, but for every South African. Now granted the road from there has been bumpy for the country, but that should not take away from what it has accomplished and can accomplish in the future.
ISBN 0143117157 (ISBN13: 9780143117155)