Rowland Bismark's Reviews > The Emperor

The Emperor by Ryszard Kapuściński
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Jul 27, 10

Read in January, 2001

I could not help but wonder how a Rastafarian, for whom Heili Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia, is none other than the Christ returned, would respond to the realities of Selassie's life as chronicled by this book. Heilie Selassie I's 44 year reign was an almost unbelievable story of luxury and excess in a land of mass starvation and poverty. Kapuscinski once again seamlessly iterates the strands of this story, weaving an understanding into the surrealistic gluttony and violence and self-delusion that was palace life in Adas Abba. Like all Kapuscinski's fine books this one reads like quickly and leaves one with an understanding that goes far deeper than the facts. Like the works of Ondaje, his books, this one included, trigger movies in my brain, scents in my nose and stories for my head. But Rasta, your god is an animal.

"his highness worked on the assumption that even the most loyal press should not be given in abundance because that might create a habit of reading, and from there it is only a single step to the habit of thinking, and it is well known what inconveniences, vexations, troubles and worries thinking causes".

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