cover image Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela

James Haskins. Putnam Publishing Group, $14.95 (179pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21515-5

When Winnie Mandela married Nelson Mandela, a founding leader of the African National Congress in 1958, she knew she had joined forces not only with a man, but with a struggle as well. Within a year she was arrested for resistance to apartheid; in 1964, Nelson was sentenced to life in prisona sentence he continues to serve. Readers waiting for the conventional happy ending will have to be satisfied with an inspiring life story instead. Gradually, Winnie develops into more than the wife of a persecuted, charismatic man, difficult as that role has been. Refusing to be cowed by police harassment, or 16 months of solitary confinement, or the peculiar and constant indignities of life as a ""banned'' person, Winnie has grown, according to Haskins, even ``more militant than her husband.'' Fully one-third of this sympathetic book concerns her unusual youth, which by itself is a fascinating account of cultural change and individual achievement. Readers with little previous knowledge of South Africa will find this a coherent and revealing introduction to the country. Ages 11-up. (May)