Spoken word

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The Independent Culture
Nelson was the name bestowed on Mandela by a British education which ignored the true history of Southern Africa; his real education was his upbringing as ward of the chief of the Thembu tribe. The actor, John Kani, who reads Mandela's autobiography Long Walk to Freedom (Watershed, 6hrs, pounds 12.99), is a member of the same tribe, and his musical, intelligent voice is the perfect choice to read the illuminating story of Mandela's progress from ploughboy orphan to universally-respected president.

Introductory insights and intriguing autobiographical asides in Gielgud's inimitable, huskily intimate voice are combined with a quite fabulous selection from the radio archives of his readings of Wilde, Shakespeare, Eliot, Shaw, Bennett and many others to make John Gielgud at the BBC (BBC, 3hrs pounds 8.99) a real gem, a rich fruit cake of a tape to keep by you to listen to again and again.

Christina Hardyment