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Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles
     

Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

4.4 16
by Richard Dowden
 

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After a lifetime's close observation of the continent, one of the world's finest Africa correspondents has penned a landmark book on life and death in modern Africa. It takes a guide as observant, experienced, and patient as Richard Dowden to reveal its truths. Dowden combines a novelist's gift for atmosphere with the scholar's grasp of historical

Overview

After a lifetime's close observation of the continent, one of the world's finest Africa correspondents has penned a landmark book on life and death in modern Africa. It takes a guide as observant, experienced, and patient as Richard Dowden to reveal its truths. Dowden combines a novelist's gift for atmosphere with the scholar's grasp of historical change as he spins tales of cults and commerce in Senegal and traditional spirituality in Sierra Leone; analyzes the impact of oil and the internet on Nigeria and aid on Sudan; and examines what has gone so badly wrong in Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo. Dowden's master work is an attempt to explain why Africa is the way it is, and enables its readers to see and understand this miraculous continent as a place of inspiration and tremendous humanity.

Editorial Reviews

Nicholas Kristof
Dowden is at his best when looking at grand themes—like the degree to which Africa is more promising than journalists or aid workers often acknowledge…journalists tend to cover Africa in stark and simple contrasts, but countries live and grow and falter in grays. So it's refreshing to encounter not only Dowden's hopefulness, but also his reliance on shading and nuance, on the recognition that the world does not have to feel sorry for Africa to care about it.
—The New York Times
Library Journal

Dowden (director, Royal African Soc.) can be forgiven if each of the 18 chapters in his massive tome feels like an abridged version of a larger book; summarizing the history, politics, and people of an entire continent in one volume is a daunting task. Dowden, however, has a wealth of personal experience to qualify him for the job, having first visited Africa as a volunteer teacher in the 1970s and then become a highly regarded Africa-based journalist. Here he attempts to educate readers about Africa's many different nations and to counter the claim that journalists have harmed Africa by publicizing only negative news about it. He alternates chapters each devoted to a particular African nation with chapters on particular issues. Dowden writes in a conversational tone, freely offering up his opinions on controversial topics including politics, foreign investment, the AIDs crisis, and Africa's leadership vacuum. Like other recent works in English on Africa, such as Martin Meredith's The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence and John Reader's Africa: A Biography of the Continent, this work is essentially subjective; unfortunately, books that describe Africa more objectively at this time are primarily directed at juvenile readers. Despite Dowden's optimistic conclusion, much of what he discusses is deeply tragic and can leave the reader feeling discouraged about Africa's future. Recommended for informed readers; includes an introduction by famed African author Chinua Achebe.
—April Younglove

Kirkus Reviews
The director of the Royal African Society offers an ambitious, roundly informative and still intimate look at sub-Saharan Africa's turbulent road in the modern era. Though Dowden fell in love with the continent when he ventured to Uganda in the early 1970s as an idealistic young teacher, he was booted out by Idi Amin's burgeoning regime. As a journalist covering African politics, he has seen firsthand how the so-called Big Man leaders-specifically Mobutu in Congo, Daniel arap Moi in Kenya, Sani Abacha in Nigeria and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe-have systematically destroyed many of the fledging nations by establishing a ruthless military rule, squandering rich natural resources and nationalizing industry, thereby holding the reins of wealth. The end of colonialism has given way to horrendous civil wars, genocide and the increased impoverishment of the African people, largely because the government systems left by the imperial powers were not rooted in African culture or experience but were based on Western models. Moreover, Dowden notes, many Western powers, including Britain, France and the United States, supported dictatorships that served their own strategic interests, such as the Israeli training and backing of Amin. The author methodically examines some of the toughest issues facing many African nations in their struggle for self-determination and autonomy: the 1994 genocide in Rwanda; rampant government corruption; the curse of diamonds and oil; and the devastation of the AIDS epidemic. He also looks at the phenomenal success story of Asian emigrants and businesses moving to the continent; the Chinese, in particular, "go where Western workers fear to tread." Dowden displays a deeplyfelt knowledge of the recent history of sub-Sahara Africa, and his suggestions for its future are well-informed and wise. A remarkably full-bodied and frank discussion of Africa's place in the world. Agent: Gordon Wise/Curtis Brown UK
From the Publisher

Times UK
“This book is anecdotal, engaging, realistic, and delightfully up-to-date.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786741427
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
12/16/2008
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
700,415
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Richard Dowden is director of the Royal African Society. He spent a decade as Africa Editor of the Independent, and then another decade as Africa Editor of the Economist. He has made three television documentaries on Africa, for the BBC and Channel 4.

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Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I cane back from Africa I wanted to learn more about it so I read this book that talks about their cultres,the way they eat, and what they eat. It helps you learn about other places in the world without leaving home!! This book is a non-stopping I couldn't put it down for 3 days when I finnaly finnished it I was soooo happy that I wanted to go back to Africa and learn even more!!!!!
SinclairDB More than 1 year ago
Everybody interested in Africa should read this book, because beyond the references to history, religious aspects, statistics and events, the text is permeated with Dowden's love and respect for the people of a culture he so skillfully helps us to understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Leaves no stone unturned in trying to dissect this remarkable continent. Breathtaking ideas and arguments from an author who truly loves his subject. Thank you for your unique perspective on this land. After I finished reading I began to read again and was amazed at all the information I really had in front of me. More please ftom this remarkable writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone on?
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*begins to pack silently crying*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lets ask starclan to change rules
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Runs in the forest right before he entered he glanced back at her,then paded in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ill be gone for the weekened! Seeya on monday! $Hawktalon$
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All of you post now if youre still here.