A new biography reveals just how sad and lonely Mandela was at the end of his life


For me Zelda La Grange’s Good Morning, Mr. Mandela, long and repetitive, was a labor to readBut it’s been called a great success for good reason: it’s an important edition to the Nelson Mandela canon. La Grange adds to the account of Nelson Mandela as a man, not an icon: The distant father, whose absence must have sowed seeds of resentment in his kids; the lonely man who was comforted by the love of a younger woman, and at the end, the old man losing the grip on his mind and his family. Good Morning, Mr. Mandela’s unassuming power then is in its author’s unabated openness.

La Grange was the orbit to Nelson Mandela’s moon. She became his personal assistant in her early 20s and served in this post until late into his retirement when some members of his family sidelined her as he was losing his…

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