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Mandela: The Lost Tapes

Narrated by Nelson Mandela


In this 10 episode Audible Original, Richard Stengel relives his intimate chats with Nelson Mandela, attempting to answer the questions ‘What made Nelson Mandela who he is?’ and ‘How can the rest of us be more like him?’

About the Podcast:

In 1993, after 27 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela sat down with ghostwriter Richard Stengel to begin working on Long Walk to Freedom, a critically acclaimed memoir that would become a bestseller around the globe.

Mandela: The Lost Tapes reveals never-before-heard audio from Stengel’s interviews with the Nobel Prize winner, freedom fighter, and former South African president. Hours of rare recordings detail the turning points of Mandela’s life, key moments that shaped a revolution and the man who was to bring freedom his nation.

In this Audible Original, Stengel relives his intimate chats with Mandela, attempting to answer the questions ‘What made Nelson Mandela who he is?’ and ‘How can the rest of us be more like him?’

In Stengel’s own words: “It’s partly the story about how Mandela and I wrote his memoir, Long Walk to Freedom. But much more than that, it’s a story about our unusual friendship, my struggle to learn who Mandela really was, and my quest to understand what makes a human being great.”

Mandela: The Lost Tapes provides a vulnerable, intimate look at who Nelson Mandela was beyond his carefully curated public persona. Through Mandela’s own words, he reveals his extraordinary sjourney to becoming one of the greatest leaders in modern history.

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In ‘Mandela: The Lost Tapes,’ a Veteran Journalist Finds Himself

“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.

New podcast reveals never-before-heard Nelson Mandela

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.”

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Nelson Mandela podcast illuminates rare side of anti-apartheid activist

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.”

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Richard Stengel Reveals 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Nelson Mandela

From escaping an arranged marriage to a stint as an amateur boxer, the host of the new Audible podcast Mandela: The Lost Tapes shares surprising things many people don’t know about the South African apartheid activist and politician.

After 30 years, the Mandela tapes

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.

Transcript: ‘Mandela: The Lost Tapes’ A Conversation with Richard Stengel

Richard Stengel, Time’s former managing editor who worked with Nelson Mandela on his autobiography, interviewed the late South African leader in 1993 for over 70 hours about his life and time in prison. Stengel joins Washington Post senior writer Frances Stead Sellers to discuss the never-before-heard audio of his conversations and the lessons of Mandela’s legacy for today.

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