WINNIE AND NELSON, portrait of a marriage

: Steinberg (J.)

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550pp., illus., paperback, First SA Edition, Johannesburg, 2023


First published in the UK in 2023.

“It takes a special talent to write about Winnie Madikizela and Nelson Mandela without collapsing under the weight - part myth, part hagiography, part obfuscation - that these two towering figures bring to bear on the historical record. Jonny Steinberg is that special talent. Only Steinberg could have written a book in which Winnie and Nelson can appear both larger-than-life and all-too-human. What a book! What an achievement!" Jacob Dlamini, author of The Terrorist Album

“Remarkable ...In heartbreaking detail, Jonny Steinberg adds up the catastrophic toll on these two lives and the lives of people around them. Yet he never takes his eye off the larger picture, and the damage done to the Mandelas comes to stand for the damage done to millions; their history is the history of modern South Africa. Even more impressively, he manages to illuminate two different political traditions through the personalities of Winnie and Nelson, and to give a fresh understanding of the crossroads at which my country now stands. Gripping and profoundly moving, this is Jonny Steinberg’s finest book. I can’t wait to read it again.” Damon Galgut, Booker Prize-winning author of The Promise

“Based on far-ranging research as well as on a trove of recently uncovered materials — as deeply sympathetic to Winnie, caught up in the whirlwind of insurrectionary violence, as to Nelson, trapped in his prison cell and losing touch day by day with the evolving situation on the ground — Steinberg’s massive essay in political biography is unlikely to be superseded in a long time.” J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Laureate 2003

Jonny Steinberg is the author of Three-Letter Plague, A Man of Good HopeThe NumberMidlands and One Day in Bethlehem. He is a two-time winner of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, and an inaugural winner of the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes. He was Professor of African Studies at Oxford University, and he currently teaches part-time at Yale and is Visiting Professor at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (Wiser).