BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Mandela and the General by John Carlin, illustrated by Oriol Malet [in Booklist]

As South Africa correspondent for London’s The Independent (1989–95), John Carlin draws on his personal trove of interviews and reportage to highlight the pivotal moment of world-affecting history when Nelson Mandela and General Constand Viljoen saved their newly apartheid-free country from bloody collapse.

Mandela’s 1990 release after 27 years of incarceration was met by South Africa’s elite as a threat to white supremacy. Viljoen, head of the South African Defence Force, 1980–85, was a fervent detractor: “I was a soldier, he was a terrorist. He was my number one enemy . . . My duty was to defend white civilization,” which meant abandoning retirement to lead the “new Afrikaner freedom struggle.” Viljoen planned war. Mandela offered peace – and won.

Catalan artist Malet’s visuals capture Carlin’s intense narrative in shades of gold, blue, red, and black, mixing photographic details with looser images and breaking panel borders to underscore immediacy. His multi-hued maps of the African continent are especially affecting. Back matter includes article reprints, photos, and a time line to provide additional context.

Review: “Fiction: Graphic Novels,” Booklist, October 15, 2018

Readers: Adult

Published: 2018


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