Playing The Enemy Book UK

Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made A Nation
by John Carlin

Nelson Mandela 1992

Nelson Mandela 1992

Justice Bekebeke

Justice BekeBeke


South African fans celebrating rugby victory

Incvictus / Playing the Enemy - by John Carlin: Review Extracts

‘This wonderful book describes Mandela’s methodical, improbable and brilliant campaign to reconcile resentful blacks and fearful whites around a sporting event, a game of rugby… Carlin is an industrious reporter and gifted storyteller… There are scenes that will open your tearducts… If Playing the Enemy were not so well written, it would deserve a place among the management tomes and self-help books that dominate business bestseller lists – a guide to leadership that plays to people’s better angels… Don’t wait for the movie.’

Bill Keller, New York Times

"The train of events leading up to what has been called South Africa's epiphany has long been crying out for a multilayered account and it is to John Carlin's eternal credit that he has written it. This is not so much a sporting volume as a wonderfully crafted and beautifully written work of modern political history. Carlin, a former bureau chief in Johannesburg for The Independent, covers the apartheid era with a vivid pen and provides an authentic sense of how tantalisingly close South Africa came to civil war."

Matthew Syed, The Times (London)

‘A triumphant conversion… A book that will capture both the miracle of South Africa’s transition and the miracle of Mandela the politician… This is not a sports book. It is a portrait of South Africa’s answer to George Washington and it works because Carlin got so close to Mandela and the people Mandela seduced… This is, above all, the book of a great reporter, but it contains some original thinking, too: Carlin explains what made Mandela the perfect politician.’

Simon Kuper, Financial Times

‘This revelatory examination of Nelson Mandela’s political genius… The author is a former South-Africa-based journalist and he’s written a tight, gripping and powerful book that shines a light on a moment of hope, not just for one nation but the whole world. Given Carlin’s cinematic feel for pace and structure, it’s no surprise to learn that a Hollywood movie is coming soon starring Morgan Freeman as Mendela and Matt Damon as Springbok captain Francois Pienaar.’

Henry Fitzherbert, Daily Express

‘A fascinating story… [John Carlin] has spoken to Mandela many times about the events and had Mandela’s full support for the book, and he has also, tellingly, looked at the story through the eyes of other key participants… Absorbing… Thirteen years on, it is possible to look back with emotion at a moment which suggested that everything was possible.’

Justin Cartwright, Sunday Telegraph

‘In Playing the Enemy, John Carlin tells the story of the final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the decisive role it played in creating a real post-apartheid South African nationalism. Carlin has spread his net widely, interviewing much of the squad and its management, Nelson Mandela's bodyguards, ANC insiders and the head of the apartheid South African intelligence service. He has woven their lives and reactions to the game into a broader, and highly readable, history of South Africa’s transition to democracy.’

David Goldblatt, Observer

‘Mr Mandela’s story never fails to inspire…[but John Carlin] is the first to tell the tale through the prism of sport… Carlin brings the story alive… Many writers reveal the nuts and bolts of South Africa’s transformation to non-racial democracy. But few capture the spirit as well as Mr Carlin.’


“If you have any doubts about the political genius of Nelson Mandela, read John Carlin's engrossing book.”

USA Today

“If you read nothing else this year, get your hands on Playing the Enemy.. I guarantee you: Audiences will cheer. And weep. And these will be tears of joy, because --- for once --- a national leader had perfect pitch, and all of his countrymen knew it, and they all got it right. In other countries, including our own, skeptics doubt that this kind of brotherhood can be engineered, even for a moment. It can be. It was.”

Jesse Kornbluth.” Headbutler.com (US literary website)

“A thin, disjointed book.” R.W. Johnson, the Sunday Times (London)

‘What you wrote and the way in which you carried out your task in this country was absolutely magnificent…it was absolutely inspiring. You have been very courageous, saying things which many journalists would never say.’

Nelson Mandela at end of interview with John Carlin when he was president in
November 11, 1998 (re Carlin’s six years as SA bureau chief for the Independent)

‘But John, you did very well, you know. The articles that you wrote about the Third Force. Man, that was good, that was good – courageous. I mean for a journalist to write articles like that, I'm telling you: You made a tremendous impression. It's difficult for me to forget the roles that have been played by somebody, especially where a person, you know, reflects unprecedented bravery. For a white journalist in this country to write those articles: that was a terrible risk.’

At end of interview August 8, 2001 (re Carlin’s work on secret security force hit squads)

FOREWORD for a book published in Spain called Heroica Tierra Cruel:

‘At the time I was released from prison I and the African National Congress
contended that there was a ‘third force’ at work in our country. John
Carlin, then of the Independent, was one of the few journalists who wrote
comprehensively and significantly on the subject. He had the courage to do
this openly and very firmly.

I think the way he carried out his task in South Africa was magnificent. It
was inspiring to read his lucid arguments that the apartheid regime was
launching a massive war against the liberation movement. It is easy now for
a journalist to criticise everybody, including the government, but in those
days you could count journalists with that courage on the fingers of one

Recently I was in Barcelona, John Carlin was present at the conference, and
he asked me a question. The organisers wanted to disallow it, but I said:
“No, no, no, let him ask questions”. Because I do not forget bravery.

For these reasons I am happy to endorse this collection of John Carlin’s
journalism about Africa.’

NR Mandela - December 2003

Purchase online at Amazon U.K.

Purchase online at Amazon U.S.

Purchase at CDWOW.COM

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