John Carlin: Playing the Enemy – Nelson Mandela and the Game that made a Nation

Welcome to a new episode of Between the Lines. This is Martin’s conversation with John Carlin who wrote Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that made a Nation.

John’s book was later made into a Clint Eastwood film called Invictus starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon as Springboks captain Francois Pienaar. Much more of that to come in tomorrow’s bonus episode.

Playing the Enemy tells the story of how Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a political tool to help build and consolidate the extremely fragile democracy in South Africa at the time. It is a portrait of Mandela the politician. The great persuader.

As always, we focus on process: we talk about John’s audiences with Mandela and how his six years working in South Africa informed the book and lots more.

John is based in Barcelona and if you listen closely, you might just be able to hear the waves lapping gently on the shore as he talks. Spain’s lockdown was particularly severe and it’s nice to think about people in that beautiful country beginning to be able to live their lives again.


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