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My First Coup d'Etat: And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa
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My First Coup d'Etat: And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  199 ratings  ·  31 reviews
My First Coup D'Etat chronicles the coming-of-age of John Dramani Mahama in Ghana during the dismal post-independence "lost decades" of Africa. He was seven years old when rumors of a coup reached his boarding school in Accra. His father, a minister of state, was imprisoned for more than a year.
My First Coup D'Etat offers an intimate look at the country that has long been
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Bloomsbury USA (first published July 1st 2012)
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Angela
Written by the current Ghanaian President, My First Coup d'Etat is a far-reaching and interesting memoir of life in post-colonial Ghana. It follows Mahama from the day he learns his father, a Member of Parliament, has been ousted following the 1966 coup, which removed Ghana's first President, Kwame Nkrumah, from government.

The book then follows a meandering, indirect path through Mahama's life and musings: we learn both of his political maturation, his family history in the north of the country
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Dina Tanners
I just finished the book today and found that it really is an amazing book. As an adult, the author found that he really could express himself in writing and now in his 50s he has written his first book. It is a compilation of stories of his life that show his formation. His early childhood was part of an upper-middle class Ghanan family (with a father as a public servant) until his first coup d'etat when he was six. His life also parallels the development of the independent country of Ghana, fr ...more
Mary
The author is the current President of Ghana, often considered Africa's success story. Born just after independence into a prominent family, his story is closely interwoven with Ghana's story. This is his first book and it is written with an understated sensitivity and simplicity that brings Ghana to life. Based on this autobiography and his biography on Wikipedia I would say that This is definitely someone I admire and would like to have as a friend.
molly
Meh, it was just okay. Lots of interesting events have happened in the author's life and yet this book was often boring. There was just very little emotion expressed. So the events, while seemingly fascinating, were rendered tedious by such a clinical telling. Some parts were better than others. Overall, I liked it alright.
Susan Hirtz
John Mahama is a powerful, insightful writer. Well chosen words skillfully used tell his story in brief interesting anecdotal style.

This book made me want to pick it up whenever I needed a calm perspective on my life. Growing up in West Africa during a turbulent time, he managed to transcend difficult interludes in his experience: his father's arrest and imprisonment, his first love moving away, an unwanted change of schools and moving from a more exciting urban life to a country town.

Somehow h
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Michael
The author, who is the vice president of Ghana, is a year or so younger than I am. Lately I have found memoirs by authors who are close to my age attractive, although some work out better than others in the reading.

I don't think anyone would argue that it is writing itself is of exceptional literary value, but the stories are compelling and ring true. This is certainly a way of gaining an understanding of that part of Africa during the 60s through 80s. He clearly had in mind western readers who
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Nana Fredua-Agyeman
My First Coup D'etat - Memories from the Last Decades of Africa (Bloomsbury, 2012; 318) by John Dramani Mahama is a memoir spanning the period of his childhood to the time he arrived from Russia after his postgraduate degree. Though this is a memoir of the author, it is also his memories in relation to his family, his country - Ghana, and Africa as a whole.

John Dramani Mahama talks about his childhood experiences in all the places he has lived - Damongo, Busunu, Accra, Tamale, Nigeria, and Russi
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Melitta
Autobiography by the newly elected president of Ghana. This book looks like it was written in a series of chapters about the first 20-30 years of the author's life. Each chapter represents a different event, or period in his life, and as such there is some repetition, since some people appear in more than one chapter, but it is written as if we have not already been introduced to them. I think some tighter editing would have helped.

Having said that, this book gives a clear picture of life in Gha
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Ryan
OK let's get this out of the way first: Mahama is a devoted socialist. He traveled to the Soviet Union in the 1980s to study socialism, though he certainly observed its flaws. He's also currently the president of Ghana. Having said that, I don't think the purpose of the book was to promote that philosophy. It is only mentioned as part of Mahama's background.

Whew, OK now on to the review.

This was an excellent book growing up in Ghana during the turbulent post-colonial years of the 1950s and 1960
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Mary Kooistra
The author was Vice President of Ghana when he published this book - he is now President. He grew up fairly privileged. I have a friend who is from Ghana - when I shared this book with him he said that this first Coup d'Etat which forced the author's father out of public life enabled my friend's family to return from Switzerland to Ghana when my friend was a child. The two of them attended the same private elementary school at the same time. The book gives a very accessible view of culture and l ...more
Megan
I really enjoyed this book. The author told some interesting stories from his childhood, but most of them were laced with history and background of Ghana's people and culture. It was nice to read a non-fiction book that was both entertaining and informative at the same time.
Kwesi Brookins
A decent book. Not a great book. But for someone interested in the narrative of the life of a typical albeit fairly well-to-do person (relative to Ghanaian circumstances) in the post-independence era in Ghana, it is an educational read. The author is now President of the Republic of Ghana. The book ends before any of his more relevant political activity. So, while the book does not give particularly great insight on his approach to governance, it does help us understand his personal qualities th ...more
Elaine Thompson
A book which conceals more than it reveals.
Karen
Written by the current President of Ghana when he was VP this is a story of what was a fairly privileged childhood in Africa but still full of uncertainty.

It's pretty easy to get caught up in the difficulty of our day to day lives but I have to say it's uncommon for me to feel my actual life is threatened or that of those close to me. Not only an interesting story about Africa but a good reminder of how good our lives are.

Good for non-fiction fans but not a difficult, terribly amusing or incred
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Drew
This was a very interesting book. The writing was a little stilted but I suspect it is due to the author's Ghanaian English. At times I felt like it could have been arranged a little better but in the end it all came together. I doubt many Americans know much about Ghana and this book is a good place to begin remedying that. For instance, I had no idea how many coups had taken place there! I would have liked to hear more about the author's mother and the lives of his sisters but they didn't real ...more
Sarah
My First Coup D'Etat is John Dramani Mahama's memoir his life in Ghana in the 30 years following independence from England. Its a moving and often relatable story about the culture and traditions of his homeland. Mahama's writing is clear, honest and highly readable. My First Coup D'Etat is highly recommended for anyone interested in Africa, culture or who just wants to read about life in another land.

Read my full review on http://www.sarahreadstheworld.com
Susan Frazier-Kouassi
It is always difficult to accept autobiography at face value, since the positive aspects of our memories tend to be more salient than the traumatic ones. Still, the books gives us a sense in time of Ghana's somewhat unsettled history, one that is common among African countries coming out of colonalism. I think it would be interesting to hear about the father's stories during this period.
Darren Sapp
I was hoping for a little more on the actual politics of the coup and Mahama's rise to MP and Vice President. This work stays with his early life and ends about 1997. However, readers will enjoy the numerous anecdotes of his life and will gain a greater understanding of life in Ghana in the 1960's, 70's, and 80's.
Jane
Thanks Grace for suggesting my Bookclub to read it. I appreciated the suggestion and enjoyed the book very much--but then I live in Ghana. It is an interesting and very readable memoir of the man running for President of Ghana. I have learned much that makes me understand the culture I live among.
Karyn
An interesting perspective on the recent history of Ghana. Brought back fond memories. Much of the book took place in the Northern Region and it was so nice to see names like "Tamale", "Yapei", and "Damongo" in print. It was interesting and I was nostalgic. Hard to separate the two.
Paul
Though not honed and polished as the best literature is, this is a great read which gives much insight into the humanity and resilience of the ordinary communities of West Africa. Recommended for anyone wishing to learn some background on life in Africa.
Jessica
I really enjoyed learning more about Ghana by reading this book. My parents live in Ghana, so I had an interest. Autobiographies are interesting. This one rambled a bit and didn't follow a timeline, but maybe that helped it be more readable.
ceeeeg
well-written, authentic in its voice, heartbreaking and triumphant by turns, but ultimately hopeful, this is a poignant and important piece of historical exposition...fascinating...4 stars
Melanie Furlong-Riesgo
I love his storytelling style. This book is totally engrossing and hard for me to put down at night. I am on a roll with African books. Making me want to travel to Africa!!
Merley
Essential reading for anyone interested in African history and particular interest in Ghanaian affairs. Great stories and inspirational observations. An enjoyable read!
Alex
I liked the matter of fact approach to the modern history of Ghana. One can better understand what is happening in many parts of Africa.
Therése
a huge piece of ghana's history told through dramani's life and experiences. inspiring and informative and touching; reads like a novel.
Marcus
Delightful read of coming of age in Ghana. It reminds the reader that although we are all similar; we have differences worthy of sharing.
Leah Swanson
It was very well written and flowed well in its story of a young African boy growing to become a man determined to make a difference.
Tracey
An inspiring book with its heartbreaking moments. A great read!
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