Monday, 22 June 2009

27. Martin Meredith - The State of Africa

I’m feeling very proud of myself for having read this book. As one reviewer said:

“The State of Africa is a heavy book, but it is light reading because it is so unfashionably straightforward.” Wall Street Journal

To be honest, I’m not even very sure why this book is in my library or why it survived the cull. I’ve nearly given it away unread on several occasions. I felt intimidated by its size and unsure of my ability to understand the content – or even be particularly interested in it. I like history but not modern, international history. I’ve studied politics and didn’t enjoy it. And I tried economics in my first year of University and changed courses after the first tutorial.

Mr Meredith chronicles the past 50 years (1955 – 2005) of African political and economic history in a manner which I found captivating. It’s not that I enjoyed reading about famine and genocide – I didn’t and remain haunted by some passages – but his approach in following the ‘Big Men’ who shaped modern Africa (for better or for worse) and the quality of his writing have created a page-turner that also serves to educate. It is to be hoped that the book reaches a wide audience who, perhaps, like me start reading without really knowing why.

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