Press Coverage For Mandela: The Lost Tapes
New York Times:
“You’re in the room with Nelson Mandela,” Stengel said, explaining the appeal of the tapes. “You hear the machinery in his brain turning. You hear how carefully he chooses his words. You’re really hearing him and that’s a revelation.”
“Mandela: The Lost Tapes” doesn’t function as an exposé or critique. Revelations are few. The goal is not to knock Mandela off any pedestal, but to render his statue just a bit more human.
The TODAY Show:
NPR’s All Things Considered:
Rick Stengel discusses with Nicolle Wallace his new podcast, “Mandela: The Lost Tapes” which delves into the conversations he had with Mandela prior to the publication of his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom.”
Sometimes a phone call can change your life. One morning in the autumn of 1992 I answered my home phone, and on the line was William Phillips, the head of the American publisher Little, Brown. He told me he had just finished reading my book on South Africa, January Sun, and could I come and see him about a project.
I was then 36 years old and a writer for Time magazine. In his office, he explained that Little, Brown had acquired the rights to Nelson Mandela’s autobiography and they were looking for a collaborator. I knew this was the proverbial offer I couldn’t refuse.
Knowing him to be stickler for punctuality, American journalist Richard Stengel was never late for his meetings with Nelson Mandela. Well, just once. That was the day he woke up at home in Johannesburg to find that he had been robbed. Three hours of taped interviews with South Africa’s liberation hero had vanished during the night.
“I got there a little bit late and told him I’d been robbed, and I was upset three hours of tapes were stolen, so who knows what was going to happen to them,” Stengel, 67, recalls in an interview by phone this week from his apartment in New York.
He adds of Mandela: “In that lovely way he had, he was just concerned for my safety. He didn’t care about anything else. It was very sweet.”
Richard Stengel — the collaborator on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom” — spent 70 hours interviewing the South African freedom fighter in 1993, after Mandela’s 27 years in prison.
Driving the news: The conversations existed on Sony cassettes and microcassettes. Now, all that rickety tape is coming to life as a 10-part podcast from Audible, “Mandela: The Lost Tapes.”
Why it matters: Listeners will hear directly from one of history’s great global figures, at length and at ease. Stengel tells Axios that Mandela is vulnerable — and at times funny, as he imitates voices, including the British teachers of his youth, and even prison guards.