This is one of the best books I have read in years and I find myself literally recommending it to everyone I speak to. It is that good and is in leagu...moreThis is one of the best books I have read in years and I find myself literally recommending it to everyone I speak to. It is that good and is in league with such a brilliant novel as The Book Thief. Everything about this book and the depiction of Zimbabwe in the early 80s was authentic, right down to the schoolboy slang and jargon. Read it; this book is important.
I've read several disparaging remarks about Fergal Keane, the author, and his works as a journalist and presenter. People have called him arrogant and...moreI've read several disparaging remarks about Fergal Keane, the author, and his works as a journalist and presenter. People have called him arrogant and narcissistic but I beg to differ. Keane's account of travelling through a country undergoing genocide and war; his visits to a UN refugee camp in Tanzania and their journey through Burundi to get to government-held areas in the South of Rwanda is written with honesty, sensitivity and insight. Far from "narcissistic", Keane asks questions of everyone around him and gives a fair amount of insight into the lives of the RPF soldier, Frank Ndore, who escorts them for much of their journey and the Ugandan drivers who risk everything to take them on their journeys. He also asks a fair amount of questions of Interahamwe and government soldiers, giving us a glimpse of their reasoning and the ways in which the evil was perpetuated.
The Bone Woman is an incredibly well-written and poignant book written by the forensic anthropologist Clea Koff. The author talks about her work on mass graves in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo as part of UN International Criminal Tribunal investigations.
It is hard to describe this book - I feel like I have undertaken a very long and exhausting journey. Ms Koff described her surroundings so well I feel as if I actually visited hot, leafy forests in Rwanda and cold, grey landscapes in the Balkans. There were times when I had to put this book down and simply process the information that I was reading.
There is something about the human condition whereby we find it hard to imagine mass murder; we find it hard to comprehend the mechanics of taking the life of hundreds of people in one event; we find it hard to imagine that these were once people, to put a human face to the atrocity. In her book, Clea Koff does this for us - she paints a picture whereby the reader is finally able to comprehend and understand.
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is riveting and nearly impossible to put down. I would highly recommend it.
House of Stone is written by Christina Lamb, an English journalist. In the opening passages I wasn't too sure if I trusted this author yet as I thought she was exaggerating (this is the scene where she describes a city's main market as reduced to rubble). I then turned the page to see a photograph depicting the rubble and it was there that my hesitation and disbelief dissolved.
The author takes the life story of two very different Zimbabweans and she chronicles this against the backdrop of the major political events of the past 45 years. She also interweaves the history of Zimbabwe dating back over a hundred years, to when the country was first colonised. The protagonists are a white educated male born into a wealthy farming family and a poor black female with only a primary education who hailed from an underprivileged rural background.
The book is incredibly informative and yet it is never laborious or dry. This is a book that took me through a range of emotions from shock and horror to disbelief and sadness. I thought I had very strong beliefs about Zimbabwe before I read this book. I thought I had a very politically left position on matters there and I was convinced Mugabe was an evil man and that gross human rights violations were taking place. The truth is that I had no idea and that my mind could not have even conceived how bad things really are there. The point is not to discuss my politics but that knowledge is power and I would urge everyone to read this book so that they too can get an idea of what is going on in Zimbabwe and once armed with the truth, they can act accordingly.
It's taken me a long time to write a review on this book. It is not an easy book to write a review on. I'll start from the end result then and move ba...moreIt's taken me a long time to write a review on this book. It is not an easy book to write a review on. I'll start from the end result then and move backwards.
I think this is a very important book and I honestly believe everyone should read it. I finished it a couple of months ago and I imagine that barely a day has gone by without my thinking about it. Ishmael Beah and his horrific story are never far from my mind, but at at the same time I know that he escaped and now tours the world giving hope and guidance to others.
This book has been torn apart by reporters claiming the book to be inaccurate in terms of time frame and events. Other reviewers have criticised Beah's style of writing and emotional involvement in the story. I am not going to defend the author, I'm not going to say that it is okay if only most of the facts are correct and I'm not going to dwell on the fact that he is a human being and not a professional writer.
What I do take away from this book was that this young man was drafted into the war in Sierra Leone as a child soldier. I don't care if he was 13 or 15 when it happened and I don't care if he was a child soldier for two years or six months. The point is that he was pumped full of drugs by adults and he both witnessed the violent deaths of many young friends and personally killed several children and men.
The book left me with a desire to learn much more about Sierra Leone and I now know much more about the war in the region than I did initially. To me that meas that the book fulfilled it's purpose. Read it.(less)