What is so amazing about this book is that it is almost exclusively narratives of the Ethiopians alive during Haile Sallasie's reign. The reporter har...moreWhat is so amazing about this book is that it is almost exclusively narratives of the Ethiopians alive during Haile Sallasie's reign. The reporter hardly inserts himself and his views, which is impressive, considering he was from Communist Poland. He never tries to skew the narrative of his book, that is, of a complex African Emperor manipulating the people around him to help themselves--the denial on part of all involved in the Ethiopian regime is staggering.
Each Ethiopian, denoted by initials only, shares moments of what they observed in a corrupt and strangely anachronistic regime. A good read for anyone interesting in journalism and African history. Word has t that the author learned his prose from Gabriel Garcia Marquez. (less)
Undoubtedly beautiful and an ending that you just kind smile at. However, as a pick for our book club it was problematic; because of Gabriel Garcia Ma...moreUndoubtedly beautiful and an ending that you just kind smile at. However, as a pick for our book club it was problematic; because of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's prose, we found it hard to lock onto anything and close read. Consensus; it was hard to talk about.
We also talked about how Oprah tells us what to read and how problematic it is (also see our previous book The Corrections.
Some other things talked about was the history of Columbia; colonialization, liberation under Bolivar, the Thousand Days War, and the race divisions and how they relate to the class structure. We also had some interesting conversations on magical realism and the nature of "third world literature" and how it is talked about with Western bias. After all, though "magical realism" was grabbed by the writers of South America and anthemnized, it is problematic in what it implies (and attack me for my imply-ment); that realism is for the first world and magic is for the third. Traditions in Western literature are not magical; Traditions in the non-West are. Troublesome, but also easily argued against.
Some of the themes we fleshed out: Time (and its confusion); letters (and the fact that they are never read); religion (and where it falls in the social columns); what are the parts that are magical realism(?); dialogue; and of course, where cholera is mistaken for love (wink wink). (less)
Instrumental for testing norms of "state death," including: nationalism's role, economics, buffer state status, resurrected states, imperial rivals, o...moreInstrumental for testing norms of "state death," including: nationalism's role, economics, buffer state status, resurrected states, imperial rivals, occupations, norm after 1945.
Says that 1/4 of all states since 1816 have died, in opposition to the widely held perception that states never die.
Also gives a definition of "state death" based on loss of governance, inability to control foreign policy, no international recognition, and no means of defense.
Includes many helpful lists and charts of historical state deaths, rival states, and state resurrections, as well as case studies. While Fazal sets a good precedent, she also invites further research. (less)
I started to actually get upset when I realized that I was nearing the end (after all, histories can't go past the present).
This book is amazingly co...moreI started to actually get upset when I realized that I was nearing the end (after all, histories can't go past the present).
This book is amazingly comprehensive and focuses on the "myths" of Europe as much as it does the history. It's case seems to be made out of what people claim about Europe, offering ways to think about history as a kinetic movement that is constantly wrestling with itself. As he quotes in the last chapter: "The essence of a nation is that all individuals have many things in common, and also that they have forgotten many things." - Ernest Renan. The "nation" itself is a portal for infinite scrutiny for Judt, as he unpacks Soviet colonism of Eastern Europe, divided nationalities, Nationalism in all it's forms, the European Union's role in challenging national identity, sub-national conflicts within states, as just some of the avenues of thought. Perhaps what affected me most was his early observation that postwar Europe's legacy is one of ethnic cleansing, in that nations were born out of the mass movement and murder of people. This is not just in regards to the Holocaust, but also in the codification of European states into fixed ethno-linguistic countries that finally retire in the last few decades into nostalgic old men and women, who go about making monuments to the nations they feel that they had lost. But even then, the idea of the "nation" has already been pulled out from under them.(less)