Mandela and the General

John Carlin (Author) Oriol Malet (Artist)


In this thrilling graphic novel, Nelson Mandela's fight against racism is about to spiral into an all-out race war. Unless he can win over his archenemy, the white supremacist General Viljoen, the democratic struggle for equality and justice in South Africa will end in "the peace of graveyards."

"A riveting read."--Morgan Freeman
"Fascinating."--Library Journal, starred review

As the first post-apartheid elections approach in 1994, with South African blacks poised to take power, the nation's whites fear reprisal. White nationalist militias claiming 50,000 well-armed former soldiers stand ready to fight to the death to defend their cause. They need someone who can lead and unite them. That man is General Constand Viljoen, former chief of apartheid South Africa's military.

Mandela knows that he can't avert a bloodbath on his own. He will have to count on his archenemy. Throughout those historic months, the two men meet in secret. Can they trust each other? Can they keep their followers and radical fringe elements from acts of violence? The mettle of these two men will determine the future of a nation.

The drama of this contest and the history that pivoted on it comes vividly to life in visual form. Veteran British journalist John Carlin teams up with Catalan artist Oriol Malet to create a historically and artistically rich graphic novel with obvious relevance to today's polarized politics.

Product Details

$19.95  $18.35
Plough Publishing House
Publish Date
November 05, 2018
7.6 X 0.3 X 9.9 inches | 0.7 pounds
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About the Author

John Carlin is an acclaimed journalist and author who was the Independent's South Africa correspondent from 1989 to 1995. He has also written for the Times, the Observer, the Sunday Times, and the New York Times, among other publications. His previous books include Knowing Mandela and Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, which is the basis for the film Invictus.

Oriol Malet, a professional illustrator and musician, trained at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona. His work has appeared in La Vanguardia, Jot Down, and Time Out.


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 on the author's reporting in South Africa
John Carlin takes a novel approach to the true history of South Africa's struggles to end apartheid through the narrative of Constand Viljoen - general of the opposition to Nelson Mandela. It's an uncomfortable perspective to view an altruistic icon of change like Mandela through, but the overarching theme of this graphic novel is humanization. It's something people forget during conflict, but Carlin is unflinching in examining the truth and deftly uses his subject as the avatar of introspective change for a nation. A must-read in our current era of cultural conflict, Mandela and the General reminds us of what can be achieved when we view each other as human. --Kwanza Osajyefo, author of Black
Comic books aren't just frivolous entertainment, but can be educational as well. The art by Oriol Malet has so much energy and beauty that it drew me in immediately; the scratchiness of his line work belies his skills as a master draftsman and storyteller. The story is incredibly engaging and well worth your time. --Jamal Igle, Molly Danger and Black
Excellent...a well-told, perceptive view of both sides in the conflict....With a limited but carefully chosen color palette, Malet evokes moods as well as he depicts actions. Likenesses of Mandela and Viljoen, in particular, are realistic but never stiff or overly photographic. Mandela and the General is an inspirational account of historical events, including Viljoen's break with his own colleagues in pursuit of the greater good.Foreword Reviews
A concise graphic narrative of secret negotiations that helped keep the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa from becoming even more of a bloodbath.... Though dialogue drives the narrative, the most striking art has the fewest words, as illustrator Malet provides some historical context for the negotiations. A fascinating story with a tight focus.--Kirkus Reviews
John Carlin elegantly crafts a powerful, balanced narrative well served by the evocative imagery and sequential talents of Oriol Malet. Mandela and the General is an important read for all who seek peace. Andrew Aydin, co-author of March trilogy
The mix of John Carlin's historically vivid writing with Oriol Malet's beautiful art highlights the immediate relevancy of this story. In our politically polarized time, it's important to remember the struggles that are necessary to ensure democracy, the many costs of conflict, and the importance of trying to understand each other.--Entertainment Weekly
A wonderful, accessible distillation of the genius of Mandela. In an increasingly divided political landscape, should be required reading for people of all ages everywhere. --Matt Damon
Mandela is one of the greatest figures of the age, and as such we put him on a pedestal and forget the details and the challenges. Carlin simply and powerfully remind us how close South Africa came to a bloodbath and how Mandela's personal effort, persuasion, strategy, and clarity of purpose averted the ultimate tragedy to which apartheid seemed to be headed. History is not made by men or women on pedestals, but those who will bend and seek solutions rather than just stay on the high horse. This reminder is a lesson for our time as well.--Tony Marx, President and CEO, New York Public Library
How Mandela talked the general away from race war toward peaceful collaboration makes a fascinating parable with relevance to today's polarized politics. This outstanding case study in the power of empathy to defuse conflict is drawn in realistic narrow-line black and white with bright colored accents.--Library Journal, starred review
A riveting read. Carlin "gets" Mandela. He captures powerfully Mandela's political astuteness and vast generosity. Masterful storytelling! --Morgan Freeman
Mandela and the General suspensefully reveals how Mandela's spirit of reconciliation prevailed over fear and violence in post-apartheid South Africa. Coming out as it does at a time of gathering global intolerance, this book is a timely reminder of the value of human empathy as a tool in political confrontation. John Carlin's privileged access makes this an especially exciting read. --Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che, staff writer at the New Yorker
While Mandela and the General is told from the perspective of a man on the wrong side of history, it does not at all glorify or attempt to excuse the injustice and oppression. The banality of evil is not sugarcoated or swept under the rug, but instead is drawn clear for all to see. More importantly, at the core of this book is the notion that reason and empathy are the foundations of progress and peace.--Vita Ayala, The Wilds and Livewire
How Mandela talked Viljoen away from race war toward peaceful collaboration makes a fascinating parable with relevance to today's polarized politics. This case study in the power of empathy to defuse conflict stands out from the often murky annals of would-be peacemaking. Will fascinate anyone interested in conflict resolution, social justice, and the history of Africa.--Library Journal
Carlin and Malet's portraits reveal the depth of Mandela's remarkable statesmanship, and show that if every war has two sides, so too does every peace.--Publishers Weekly