Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa

Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa

3.8 10
by Keith B. Richburg
     
 

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Nothing in Keith Richburg’s long and respected journalistic career at the Washington Post prepared him for what he would encounter as the paper’s correspondent in Africa. He found a continent where brutal murder had become routine, where dictators and warlords silenced dissent with machine guns and machetes, and where starvation had become…  See more details below

Overview

Nothing in Keith Richburg’s long and respected journalistic career at the Washington Post prepared him for what he would encounter as the paper’s correspondent in Africa. He found a continent where brutal murder had become routine, where dictators and warlords silenced dissent with machine guns and machetes, and where starvation had become depressingly common. With a great deal of personal anguish, Richburg faced a difficult question: If this is Africa, what does it mean to be an African American?

In this provocative and unvarnished account of his three years on the continent of his ancestors, Richburg takes us on a extraordinary journey that sweeps from Somalia to South Africa, showing how he confronted the divide between his African racial heritage and his American cultural identity.

Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
Striking in both its honesty and horror...A gripping memoir. Out of America is a passionate reminder to a multiethnic democracy that human dignity, not banal notions of cultural identity, is the source of enduring civic and personal esteem.
USA Today
This may well be the most important book to come out of Africa since Isak Denisen's classic Out of Africa, published 60 years earlier...the most honest book to emerge from Africa in a long time.
Newsweek
A brave work that is not afraid to go against the grain....An important and original book.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Richburg spent three years (1991-1994) covering Africa for the Washington Post, and his tour of crisis zones like Somalia, Rwanda and Liberia left him disgusted and disheartened by the carnage, corruption and ungovernability that he observed. Moreover, faced with his self-identity as a black man- "there but for the grace of God go I"-and what he sees as black Americans' unthinking invocation of Africa, the jaded author concludes with an embrace of his essentially American identity. Indeed, his pungent narrative shoves African violence in our faces, while his encounters with African locals are inevitably distanced by culture and class. He takes a crusading journalist's pleasure in cross-examining visiting American black luminaries who excuse Africa's lack of democracy. Among evasionists, he finds one straight talker, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, who, after citing the usual litany of explanations (colonialism, etc.), which Richburg deems excuses, for African failures, criticizes his own people's lack of discipline. Richburg in turn applies that analysis to the problems plaguing black Africa. The author's harsh words, backed by experience, should stir controversy. But his report is too thin. His conclusions might have been tempered by reports that some black groups (like TransAfrica) have recently pressured Nigeria on human rights, and the no-longer-hopeful author doesn't acknowledge how the West might use aid to leverage political change. Richburg's crisis-based experience also ignores some other stories about the ambiguous black American African encounter, such as those told in Eddy Harris's Native Stranger. First serial to U.S. News & World Report. (Mar.)
Booknews
A black American journalist recounts his experiences as a "Washington Post" correspondent in modern Africa, and confronts the divide within himself between his African racial heritage and his American cultural identity. For general readers. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465021017
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
09/22/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
625 KB

What People are saying about this

Joshua Hammer
"Eloquent . . . an important and original book"
Shelby Steele
"Black America has always imagined Africa like the adopted child imagines the birth parent. The dream is that Africa holds a truth for us. Keith Richburg marches through that dream and finds that he was an American all along."
Brian W. Jones
"Striking in both its honesty and horror...A passionate reminder to a multiethnic democracy that human dignity, not banal notions of cultural identity, is the source of enduring civic and personal esteem."

Meet the Author

Keith B. Richburg is the New York bureau chief for the Washington Post. In 1993 he won the National Association of Black Journalists’ International Reporting Award, and the following year he won the George Polk Memorial Award for foreign reporting and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having lived in Africa for six years, I regonised many examples that Mr Richburg wrote about. But only a black American can write these experiences and published the book. As being white, I would be classified as a racist. Which is not true but many situations in Africa are very allien to someone who grew up in Europe or in the USA. Having been in situations that left me gobsmack, it was a relieve to read this honest book and often I was shaking my head with agreement or laughing as the same things happened to me. Also Mr Keithburg's reflection about being black in the USA and now being scared as a black man in Africa is something that I also noticed in Africa with black Americans. I recommend this book as a relieve to other books that are not always telling the truth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You have never seen Africa like this before! Very well written. I will be reading this one again. So glad I have it on my Nook. I will be "sharing" it with a friend who has also traveled to Africa.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In a milieu of romanticizing Africa for political and social advantage, the author's stark honesty replaces myth with truth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being a journalist, Keith Richburg is able to vividly convey the plight of the Tustsi people in Africa. Well crafted - couldn't put it down. Every black person in America should read it and get over feeling victimized 'which they were - but, it turns out, to a greater future'in the early days of this country. I would wish for them the sensitivity to forgive us those long-ago sins, and rejoice in the fact that their forfathers bore the pain that ensured them a life anywhere but in Africa. The didn't suffer alone. Written in stone at the Alamo is the saying: 'Texas is heaven for men and dogs, but hell for women and oxen.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Keith Richburg's book takes you right to Africa where you are right with him as he travels the continent. It's a very good book as a memoir but if you are looking for background information, or new insights on Africa- this book does not deliver. It has no serious analysis of either the black problem (either African or African American). I give the writing a 3.5 but the content rates a one as the book would have been great with just a little bit more analysis While reading Mr. Richburg,the book had the feel of a story teller's tale- and had revealing moments when I recognised Mr. Richburg's rage at fellow black people and ex-colonialists etc. Mr. Richburg's title doesn't dissemble- it's about how he confronts Africa- buy it for a good general read, but if seeking to learn about Africa, you're probably better off with another book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Out of America's thesis ignores the fact that the United States is partially responsible for causing the political, economic, and social turmoil in Africa that gave birth to the author's brutal critique of the continent. For this reason, it is difficult to judge the author as a credible source, since a summary review of the United States' involvement in Africa severely challenges his view of America as the world's greatest democracy and his uncritical gratitude for being the descendant of an African who was enslaved in America. However, the book is valuable in articulating the negative sentiments that many Africans in America unfortunately hold for the 'Dark Continent.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I too am an African-American living in Africa. Sadly, I must concur with Mr. Richburg's observations, particuarly in Nairobi, Kenya. The experiences described by the author in that part of Africa mirrored my own almost identically. The book is a validation of my own feelings and observations which were quite often disbelieved or misinterpreted by people at home. The book's real message is that African-Americans should embrace the unique opportunity they have to live in the world's freest democracy. If Black Americans could only see the sacrifices Africans are willing to make to be in their position, they would (and should) embrace their American citizenship with unprecedented pride and determination to make it a more perfect union.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was astonished at this honest and beautifully written book. Although no excuses can be made for the ultimate evil of slavery, it shows that history can right itself in that millions of blacks are now living in a country where there is opportunity rather than wholesale slaughter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Out of America does a good job of conveying the authors sentiments and thoughts about the African continent, and to some extent, her peoples. What it does not do is offer insight into how US and Western meddling have caused the continent much turmoil and lost years, starting even before the advent of slave raids on the continent. It is a great memoir, but nothing more. It stops far short of a true, honest, probing and reflective journalistic effort.