Swati's Reviews > The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence

The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith
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's review
Nov 04, 2011

ok, i didn't put a date on this thing because i've been "currently reading" it for ages. i think since xmas. it's quite daunting in length and scope, but there's enough there for a total amateur like me to latch onto---well-told stories of fascinating leaders, thematic links between countries with similar postcolonial experiences, etc. i wonder what someone w. more knowledge of the subject would think of it, though, and all the endorsements from right-leaning pubs makes me wonder if there's a bias i'm not well-versed enough to see (though i can appreciate, at least, that it's not a polemic, one way or the other).

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Hafeez (new)

Hafeez Lakhani I know all about books sitting around half read. good books, too. i've become a half-read-four-books-at-once kind of guy..

message 2: by Swati (new) - added it

Swati Totally! I have quite a few right now..... :)

message 3: by Kevin (new)

Kevin The two biggest critiques that I've heard about this book are 1) downplays the structural and institutional legacies of colonialism in favor of focus on the flaws of individual leaders/dictators and the relationships that Western powers had with those regimes (as opposed to the investment of those same Western powers with the Westphalian myth of ad hoc colonies-as-rationally-composed-nation-states), and 2) excludes discussion of what post-1960s African states might have looked like had they been allowed to reform their borders as proper nation-states, as many did and continue to desire to do, and as at least one country, Botswana, was able to do, making it a success story (notwithstanding the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic).

message 4: by Swati (new) - added it

Swati Absolutely true Kev-o, and the blurbs on the back from all the conservative pubs are suggestive of it, even if one only gets partway through, as I did :) Got any recs for a smarter history/wide survey? I'd love it!
(PS obviously I am very slow at replying to things on good reads)

message 5: by Kevin (new)

Kevin I don't know of any specifically. I think regular consumption of the London Review of Books articles on the region is pretty useful for getting a survey of the work that is out there, with a critical and skeptical lens of the excellent writers there through which to view publications new and old.

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