let's liven this group up!

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let's liven this group up!

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Maio 2, 2009, 8:03am

Hmm.. 108 people and no one has anything to say?? That's gotta be fixed. I'll start.

Early last year I was presented with an opportunity to go to Kenya, which I wound up missing due to the unrest there at the time. The folks I was supposed to go with wound up rescheduling - unfortunately at a time I was unable to join. Nevertheless they had an amazing time. Before I knew I would miss the trip, I got several books on Kenya - Out of Africa, The flame trees of Thika, and the autobiography of Wangari Maathai, Unbowed.

Since then, I've also recently read What is the What - which was phenomenally written and I highly recommend it - about the Lost Boys of Sudan

The Go Review That Book! group recently assigned me Nelson Mandela's autobiography Long walk to freedom, which I have just started. I openly admit that I know nothing about Mandela or his struggle, which is why I am excited and interested to read his book.

I also have several other books on my TBR shelves, The power of one and half of a yellow sun, and purple hibiscus which I am looking forward to.

So: your turn! What have you read, what's good, what are you looking forward to? Perhaps these can be broken into various threads later on if the conversation really gets going, but I just want to start it out.


Maio 2, 2009, 8:36am

The Mandela book is very good and if you don't know this recent history of South Africa it will truly open your eyes. A completely different type of read is Alexander McCall Smith's #1 Ladies Detective Agency based in Gaberone, Botswana. It is a true representation of the culture of the Motswana (people of Botswana). I recently finished Dust from our eyes: an unblinkered look at Africa by a Canadian journalist Joan Baxter. I wrote a review of it www.librarything.com/work/6596657/reviews/40985997 There are many fine books on Africa.

Editado: Maio 7, 2009, 12:52pm

I am enjoying reading Mandela's book and learning from it. I am still fairly early on. One of the ways that he make it quite readable is by not only relating particular stories or incidents in his life, but also comments on them with retrospect, and notices differences between how he viewed the world or situation as a boy or early adulthood, and his views as he wrote. This leads to a much richer understanding of who he is as a person and how he has changed.

In contrast, I felt that Unbowed was a much more dry autobiography. While also an incredible life, her writing is much more matter of fact, and descriptive of the various events as she saw them, with less commentary. On the occasions when she did comment, I often felt it was an afterthought, somewhat disjointed from the telling of the event, and perhaps added as a response to a question by a manuscript reviewer or as something she felt she obliged to include.

Out 6, 2009, 4:02pm

I like Zakes Mda's writings on post-apartheid South Africa : Heart of Redness especially. If you're willing to dig deep into some academically dense stuff Patrick Bond's Elite Transition is a good critique of the realities of post-1994 South Africa.

Abr 4, 2010, 8:19pm

While in Paris, Thomas Jefferson seriously imperiled his political future by secretly joining with the noted anti- slavery poet and founder of ''the American Mercury", Joel Barlow to provide his friend Constantin-Francois Volney with an English translation of The Ruins: Or a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires, a translation from the French Les Ruines ou Meditations sur les Revolutions des Empires, published in 1796 by William A. Davis, in New York. This is an admittedly radical work even by today's Liberal standards. Maybe that is why it took the University of Virginia 185 years to remember that Jefferson had given it not one, but two copies of his personally selected translations of Volney's work.

One copy was presented to the Library of Congress just in time for it's 200th birthday. This translation of Volney's work is the same edition as the one Jefferson had sold to The Library of Congress in 1815, but which was sadly lost to flames in 1851.

Mark Dimunation, chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections division at the Library of Congress, has called Volney's work an “important source,..”, “that influenced Jefferson's thinking”. Just think, “Afro-Centric Scholars” (Not an oxymoron) have been teaching for decades that this particular translation of this work is an important primary source. Its taken almost 200 years, but thanks to the ongoing deification of Thomas Jefferson, more mainstream scholars may finally work up the nerve to examine Volney's message in the exact words that President Jefferson chanced so much to pass along.

Why did Jefferson do it? Any Ideas.

Editado: Abr 18, 2010, 1:34am

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Jun 2, 2016, 3:47am

Anyone still reading African authors?

Editado: Jun 2, 2016, 8:02am

Yes. So far this year I've read And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile (Nigeria), which I thought was okay, A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), which I was quite fond of, and Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of the Congo), which I didn't like at all.

I had started to read Devil on the Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, my favorite African author last month, and was enjoying it, but had to put it aside due to my busy work schedule. I probably won't get back to it until July.

ETA: I'm about to leave for a four week holiday in Europe, and I'll probably read The Lights of Pointe-Noire and/or Letter to Jimmy by Alain Mabanckou (Republic of the Congo), as I have both books on my Kindle.

Jun 2, 2016, 8:34am

I wasn't even aware of this group until today so I have just joined.

I'm currently reading Biafra Story: The Making of an African Legend by Frederick Forsyth. A fascinating book. He admits that he is not impartial, as he was there during the war as a young reporter, but on the other hand he points out that history is usually written by the victors and both the Nigerian and British governments had vested interests, so his account challenges the more standard narrative.

Someone above mentioned Sudan's "Lost Boys". I can highly recommend God's Refugee: The Story of a Lost Boy Pastor by Rev John Chol Daau. John was a "Lost Boy" and is now a pastor, and a friend and colleague of mine.

Another South Sudanese book recently given to me by its author is The Rise and Fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership by Daniel Wuor Joak but I haven't had the chance to read it yet. It would be written from a particular political perspective and is thus probably best viewed as a valuable contribution to the literature rather than a stand-alone read.

While we're on Sudan, would it be considered advertising if I mentioned my own book? The Voice of the Voiceless is an account of the role of the church during the 1983-2005 civil war in Sudan, a lot of it written from an eye-witness perspective.

On my soon-to-read shelf is A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson, which is not in fact a guide to East African birds (although I do also have plenty of those guides) but a work of fiction.

Also on my non-fiction shelf are The Cry of the Fish Eagle by Peter Molloy, a classic book by a wildlife officer in condominium Sudan, and The Red Pelican by Jon Arensen, about a British officer and his relationship with the Murle community in southern Sudan. I have also just ordered a copy of Handbook of the Sudan Government Railways and Steamers from 1928.

Like others above, I thoroughly recommend Long Walk to Freedom.

Jun 4, 2016, 8:29pm

Wow! That's amazing.

I don't even know where to begin...

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