Thursday, February 14, 2008

Invest in the best

I'm a sucker. But I'm looking forward to my reading list.

So here is the order i am now awaiting from Amazon. For thirty eight of our English pounds, I'm getting a mix of books that cover all sorts of aspects of Africa. From fiction to fact; from politics to biography; from Uganda to the DRC as well as vast sweeping views of the entire continent.

Herewith my reading list for the next few months:

1. The Last King of Scotland - By Giles Foden.

Recently gained fame as the film version, a tale of a doctor that got close to the Amin dictatorship and his experiences as a result of his relationship with the big man himself.

2. In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in the Congo - by Michela Wrong

This correspondent's vision of Congo/Zaire during the Mobutu years is apparently quite a read. I may well have to take another look at Conrad's classic to remind myself of some of the comparisons being drawn here...

3. The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence - by Martin Meredith

Reviewed by the Spectator as 'A spectacularly clear view of the African political jungle'. I'm thirsty for that knowledge and understanding myself.

4. Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart - Tim Butcher

A travelogue through the heart of the Congo, worthy of the epic qualities of tales of 19th Century explorers.

5. Africa: A Biography of the Continent - by John Reader

Sounds like an epic task but an accessible read. Apparently spans geological pre-history and the formation of the continent; the ecology of the continent and the arrival of man; the developments of the black population; the formation of tribes and animist religion etc; white colonization, the slave trade, missionaries, gold and diamonds in South Africa; the scramble for colonies; and finally in this century, decolonisation and African nationalism. If he pulls it off in one book I'll be very impressed and much better informed.

6. Abyssinian Chronicles - by Moses Isegawa

A novel set in a tribal village during the Amin years in Uganda. On the Lonely Planet recommended reads for visiting this country and that's good enough for me.

The one that got away?

Africa - the collection of thirty years of images from Sebastiao Salgado.

I love his photography, I love Africa. This is a coffee table book I want more than any other. And they're even selling it at a massive discount on amazon. But very soon I won't have a coffee table. So what is the point? I shall just have to take my own shots instead and be happy with my own amateurish version...

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