Cover 9781849547925   copy

On 2 February 1990, FW de Klerk made a speech that changed the history of South Africa. Nine days later, the world watched as Nelson Mandela walked free from the Viktor Verster prison. In the midst of these events was Lord Renwick, Margaret Thatcher’s envoy to South Africa, who became a personal friend of Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, acting as a trusted intermediary between them. He warned PW Botha against military attacks on neighbouring countries, in meetings he likens to ‘calling on the führer in his bunker’. He invited Mandela to his first meal in a restaurant for twenty-seven years, rehearsing him for his meeting with Margaret Thatcher – and told Thatcher that she must not interrupt him. Their discussion went on so long that the British press in Downing Street started chanting ‘Free Nelson Mandela’.

In this extraordinary insider’s account, Renwick draws on his diaries of the time, as well as previously unpublished material from the Foreign Office and Downing Street files. He paints a vivid, affectionate, real-life portrait of Mandela as a wily and resourceful political leader bent on out-manoeuvring both adversaries and some of his own colleagues in pursuit of a peaceful outcome.

Read a sample


One of the most important books written on the modern history of South Africa.

Wilbur Smith

4 stars: a crisp, riveting book

The Telegraph

It's an interesting behind-the-scenes account of the events that unfolded on a world stage. 


The Independent

A kind of peace has descended on the country, a process documented in absorbing detail by Robin Renwick.

Choice Magazine

Renwick was privileged with a front seat in this drama and did all that his profession allowed to urge it forward. As for Thatcher, he has at very least put the record straight.

The Guardian

Lord Renwick’s diaries … offer a string of insights into the tortuous process towards that miraculous outcome.

The Economist
Show more

Share this book

Buy this book

not available
  • eBook
  • ISBN: 9781849548656
  • 29 January 2015
  • £12.99

About our eBooks

Similar titles:

Helen Suzman
Long Walk to Freedom
A Journey With Margaret Thatcher
Unfair Game