The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair / Edition 1

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NEW! EXCELLENT CONDITION. "THE FATE OF AFRICA: A HISTORY OF FIFTY YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE"; SOFTCOVER. 750 PAGES. HEAVY FULL OF INFORMATION ABOUT ITS RELEVANT TOPIC. TIGHT CLEAN & ... PAGES. GREAT READ! MAY SHOW SLIGHT SHELFWEAR. SHIPS FAST. EXPEDITED SHIPPING AVAILABLE, I WILL MAIL THIS BOOK TO YOU TODAY! GREAT BUY! Read more Show Less

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Overview

Fifty years ago, as Europe's colonial powers withdrew, Africa moved with enormous hope and fervor toward democracy and economic independence. Dozens of new states were launched amid much jubilation and the world's applause. African leaders, popularly elected, stepped forward to tackle the problems of development and nation-building. In the Cold War era, the new states excited the attention of the superpowers. Africa was considered too valuable a prize to lose.

Today, Africa is a continent rife with disease, death, and devastation. Most African countries are effectively bankrupt, prone to civil strife, subject to dictatorial rule, and dependent on Western assistance for survival. The sum of Africa's misfortunes — its wars, its despotisms, its corruption, its droughts — is truly daunting.

What went wrong? What happened to this vast continent, so rich in resources, culture and history, to bring it so close to destitution and despair in the space of two generations?

Focusing on the key personalities, events and themes of the independence era, Martin Meredith's riveting narrative history seeks to explore and explain the myriad problems that Africa has faced in the past half-century, and faces still. From the giddy enthusiasm of the 1960s to the "coming of tyrants" and rapid decline, The Fate of Africa is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how it came to this — and what, if anything, is to be done.

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Editorial Reviews

Kliatt Paperback Book Guide
"Recommended for its research, compassion, and warning for the future if action is not taken to preserve this species."
November 2004
San Francisco Chronicle July 31 2005
"Meredith...knew his beat intimately...informing a keen and humane mind... It shows here in the depth and fluid familiarity of... narrative"
Wall Street Journal August 31
"Meredith [has] written a narrative history of modern Africa, devoid of... gender discourse or postcolonial angst... It is a joy."
Reuters International AlertNet blast 8/28/05
"Admiration for the continent's people... comes through in [Meredith's] latest book and he does not ignore... factors stunting African development... "
The Globe & Mail 8/27/05
"Africa's tragedy is all the more moving for his lack of constantly reminding you to be moved..."
The New York Press 8/31/05
"Meredith writes with clearness and objectivity...Meredith splices [the] narratives together in such a way that trends and patterns emerge."
World Magazine 8/27/05
"Meredith is a gifted journalist, able to tell a continent-wide story."
Publishers Weekly
The value of Meredith's towering history of modern Africa rests not so much in its incisive analysis, or its original insights; it is the sheer readability of the project, combined with a notable lack of pedantry, that makes it one of the decade's most important works on Africa. Spanning the entire continent, and covering the major upheavals more or less chronologically-from the promising era of independence to the most recent spate of infamies (Rwanda, Darfur, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sierra Leone)-Meredith (In the Name of Apartheid) brings us on a journey that is as illuminating as it is grueling. The best chapters, not surprisingly, deal with the countries that Meredith knows intimately: South Africa and Zimbabwe; he is less convincing when discussing the francophone West African states. Nowhere is Meredith more effective than when he gives free rein to his biographer's instincts, carefully building up the heroic foundations of national monuments like Nasser, Nkrumah, and Haile Selassie-only to thoroughly demolish those selfsame mythical edifices in later chapters. In an early chapter dealing with Biafra and the Nigerian civil war, Meredith paints a truly horrifying picture, where opportunities are invariably squandered, and ethnically motivated killings and predatory opportunism combine to create an infernal downward spiral of suffering and mayhem (which Western intervention only serves to aggravate). His point is simply that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely-which is why the rare exceptions to that rule (Senghor and Mandela chief among them) are all the more remarkable. Whether or not his pessimism about the continent's future is fully warranted, Meredith's history provides a gripping digest of the endemic woes confronting the cradle of humanity. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
Meredith, a longtime observer of African affairs, has written a reliable introduction to contemporary Africa for the general reader. The book proceeds chronologically from the misdeeds of the colonial era to the optimism of independence, the errors of the 1960s and 1970s, and the subsequent decay and present-day drift. Although sometimes only faint in this rather discursive book, Meredith's broad point is that postindependence Africa has been the victim of poor leadership by political elites more interested in filling their pockets than in promoting economic development. The narrative is driven by arrestingly told episodes that are meant to be revealing of the continent's ills; many will be well known to Africa hands, but Meredith's well-informed account rarely trades in sensationalism and does not fall prey to the kind of glib pessimism that characterizes much coverage of the region. At the same time, he is forthright regarding what he sees as the failures of most of Africa's leaders, for whom, most readers will agree, this is a damning story.
Library Journal
A scholar of Africa necessarily becomes an expert on death. In Meredith's tome, death comes in huge numbers and in many ways: through famine, ethnic strife, and racial injustice and at the hands of ruthless dictators. It came in the days of European colonialism, but in postcolonial Africa, death pervades the continent. Meredith (Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe) writes with sobriety, intelligence, and a deep knowledge of Africa as he describes individuals responsible for deaths unimaginable to much of the rest of the world. A well-known example is the carnage among Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, claiming 800,000 lives in 100 days in 1994-more people were killed more quickly than in any other mass killing in recorded history. Much of this tragic history has been told in part elsewhere, but Meredith has compiled the text covering the entire continent. Only in the last few pages does Meredith answer the question of Africa's fate-and he thinks it's bleak. Enhanced by a 500-title bibliography, this work is recommended for academic and all African collections. (Index not seen.)-Jim Thorsen, Weaverville, NC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Africa has been largely free for half a century, and the resources many of its nations contain are ever more precious. Yet, writes long-time Africa observer Meredith (Elephant Destiny: Biography of an Endangered Species in Africa, 2003, etc.), "Africa's prospects are bleaker than ever before."Meredith's complex but highly accessible narrative has a dramatis personae dozens strong. One representative figure is Kwame Nkrumah, who was there at the start of the continent's independence movement. Jailed by the British for antigovernment activity, he was released in 1951 only to become, instantly, prime minister of the new independent nation of Ghana. He began as a sincere left democrat, it seems, then drew closer to socialism as a proven modernizer of developing nations, then claimed for himself the ability "of achieving for Africa what Marx and Lenin had done for Europe and Mao Tse-tung for China" by promulgating "Nkrumahism." He then began to press for leadership of a pan-African union-which peers such as Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta and Hastings Banda did not grant him. Nkrumah's supposedly loyal subjects deposed him in 1966. Military coups would topple similarly ambitious leaders in Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Uganda and elsewhere, and bring down the emperor of Ethiopia, the one country in Africa not to have been colonized. Those military coups often had the effect of instilling yet another cult-of-personality-mad strongman, as with Jean-Bedel Bokassa in the Central African Republic, which he would eventually deem to be an empire. Meredith's account is more descriptive than prescriptive, but he does point to trends that could be repeated anywhere in the world: a strong leaderrises, surrounds himself with a ruling elite, becomes distant from the people, eventually starts thinking of himself as a god, then falls-or, as in the case of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, largely disappears from view while others do the ruling. Sadly, that pattern has been repeated many times over in Africa, the victim of more than its share of "vampire-like politicians."Sharp-edged, politically astute and pessimistic: a good complement to John Reader's Africa: A Biography of the Continent (1999).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586483982
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 7/3/2006
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 768
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Meredith is a journalist, biographer and historian who has written extensively on Africa. His previous books include In the Name of Apartheid; Nelson Mandela; Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe; and Elephant Destiny. He lives near Oxford, England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2005

    Well Researched History of Last 50 Years

    The US press has devoted over 90% of it coverage in the last 20 years to one country South Africa. What is going on in most of the rest is ignored. The overwhelming pattern is that Africa is dominated by corruption and dictators and the people appear to accept both and flounder.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    An excellent depiction of how Africa functions!

    I grew up and lived in Africa for 30 years of my life and Martin Meredith has done an unbelievable job in depicting the "African Way" in this book. The book is easy to read, factual and provide the reader an excellent insight into the workings and dealings of the African people, their struggle for independence and their failure to make it work. It also show the numerous problems the continent is facing and why it has not been successful in addressing any of them. <BR/><BR/>Growing up in Africa I cannot think of a more accurate picture of the state of the continent and why it struggles and will continue to struggle to find its way out of the gloom. This is a must read for people interested in understanding how Africa works, what drives it people and why the way of the west will not solve its problems. It is also a very goof factual history of the continent since its independence in the 1950s.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2006

    Very Informative!

    It is an eminent review of what happenned in the continent in the pre-colonial and post-colonial periods. Although I don't concur with all his opinions, this is a well researhed book. It will be an engaging reading for anyone interested in the African continent.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2005

    A complete review

    Martin Meredith 'The Fate of Africa' provides a complete review of all the things that plague the continent today. It is a historical overview that brings together everything you ever knew or wish you knew about the continent.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    Must read if you have any interest in Africa.

    Both terrifying, sad and informative. The journey we take in this book exposes the absolute ruthless Post colonial governance of Africa and the sequence of events that Africans had to and still do endure. We think of Africa as a single state. It is not. It is an interwoven story of its relationship with Europe, China, USSR, Cuba , and itself. Even Che was involved for a few weeks. It seeks it's identity still. Best book I have read on the African continent. You find yourself pulling for the people along the way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 12, 2014

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    Posted April 25, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2009

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